Red Wings’ Mazur, Seider are surprise selections for world championships

Detroit News

Detroit — There’s an interesting list of Red Wings players who will begin competing for their countries at this week’s men’s International Ice Hockey Federation world championships.

Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider — who is a late addition to Germany’s roster — along with Olli Maatta, coach Derek Lalonde on Team USA’s coaching staff, Carter Mazur.

Wait, what?

Mazur, the Wings’ 2021 third-round draft pick (70th overall) from Jackson, was included on Team USA’s roster after an impressive season collegiately at Denver, then an equally productive six-game stint with the Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Team USA always has a level of difficulty in putting together an elite roster, given many top Americans are still competing in the NHL playoffs, and those who aren’t simply are winding down from the long NHL season.

So, including some promising collegiate players isn’t shocking. And given Mazur’s performance and potential, he could potentially help the USA lineup.

General manager Steve Yzerman — who is the associate GM for Canada and will get a chance to watch Mazur against many NHL players — hinted in his season-ending press conference that Mazur, 21, has a chance to make the Wings’ lineup quickly.

“Is he ready to play next year (in the NHL)? Maybe, maybe not,” Yzerman said. “But, he looks like a good prospect. He looks like an NHL player for me. He skates well, he’s got good hands, he knows where to go on the ice.

“He’s going to be on our team and he’s going be a real good player for us sooner than later. Is it September, October? I’m not sure.”

Mazur had 37 points (22 goals, 15 assists) in 40 games as a sophomore at Denver. After turning pro, Mazur had three goals and three assists (six points) in six games in Grand Rapids.

Mazur will see plenty of future teammates milling around the tournament, which takes place May 12-28 in Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia.

In terms of coaching, Lalonde is an assistant coach on David Quinn’s Team USA staff, while Wings assistant Alex Tanguay is an assistant on Andre Tourigny’s Canadian coaching staff.

Wings players competing include Raymond and Jonatan Berggren (Sweden), Seider (Germany), Joe Veleno (Canada), Dominik Kubalik (Czechia) and Olli Maatta (Finland), along with Mazur.

Jake Walman was on the Canadian roster, but withdrew earlier this week because of an upper-body injury.

The NHL playoffs are where players would ultimately like to be playing, but the world championships have always been a viable option if the playoffs aren’t possible.

“There’s always a big honor playing for your national team, and last year, I didn’t go,” said Raymond, who was worn down after his rookie season. “This year, coming out, I feel really good and I want to keep playing. That was my thought process. I’m very excited to go.”

Veleno was a mild surprise addition to the Canadian roster. A member of Canada’s world junior team back in the day, Veleno just finished his first full season with the Wings.

This could be an invaluable experience for Veleno, who is likely to get plenty of important playing time.

“There’s plenty of great Canadian players that can be eligible,” Veleno said. “I was really grateful and honored that they thought of me.

“Any time you get a chance to represent the Maple Leaf for us Canadians, it’s a huge honor. It’s always a pleasure, and any time I can get that opportunity, more often than not, I’ll take those tournaments. It’ll be a good experience. My family will most likely be coming down, and I’ll get to spend time with them.

“I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”

The surprise addition in this tournament from the Wings’ perspective was Seider, who said during his season-ending Zoom call with media that he planned to rest after the long NHL season.

But Germany general manager Christian Künast announced Monday that Seider is traveling to Finland and could play Friday.

“After the talks immediately after the end of the NHL season, there was further contact between Moritz and us,” Künast told the German team’s website. “Now, he has signaled to us that he has fully recovered from his injuries in time and feels 100% ready to go to the world championships.

“So, there was no question for us to include him in the World Cup squad before leaving for Finland. We are pleased that we can continue to build on his commitment and energy in the upcoming tournament and that he will strengthen our team.

“The release of the Detroit Red Wings has also been obtained, so nothing stands in the way of his World Cup appearance.”

2023 IIHF men’s world championships

When: May 12-28.

Where: Co-hosted by Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia.

TV: Team USA’s games televised by NHL Network.

First game: Friday 9:20 a.m. vs. Finland.

Red Wings connection: GM Steve Yzerman (Canada associate GM), coach Derek Lalonde (asst. coach Team USA), asst. coach Alex Tanguay (asst. coach Canada), Joe Veleno (Canada), Carter Mazur (USA), Lucas Raymond, Jonatan Berggren (Sweden), Moritz Seider (German), Olli Maatta (Finland), Dominik Kubalik (Czechia).

Twitter: @tkulfan

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