Red Wings Top 25 Prospects: Post-2023 Draft

The Hockey Writers

The Detroit Red Wings’ prospect pool has evolved quite a bit since Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper began calling the shots in their roles as general manager and director of amateur scouting, respectively. Their pool has been considered one of the deepest since the turn of the decade, and that remained true as they approached the 2023 NHL Draft. They entered the festivities in Nashville with 10 picks, but left Bridgestone Arena with 11 new prospects after they made a maneuver to add an extra fifth round pick.

That influx of talent has created a level of nuance in their prospect pool that simply wasn’t there before. There are multiple players throughout their pool that could fill similar roles at the NHL level. If one prospect doesn’t work out, there’s another one waiting to prove that they will. It creates internal competition that Detroit should feel the effects of over the next five years and more as their pool begins to yield NHLers year after year.

Detroit Red Wings Top 25 Prospects: Post-2023 Draft Simon Edvinsson, Nate Danielson, Carter Mazur
Simon Edvinsson, Nate Danielson, Carter Mazur (The Hockey Writers)

Perhaps the only downside of all of this is that it makes ranking the Red Wings’ prospects an even harder task. Prior to the draft, my colleague Delaney Rimer released a pre-draft top-15 rankings article that you should check out if you haven’t already. Shortly thereafter, my colleague Tony Wolak shared his top-25 ranking in a notebook article also prior to the draft. Now it’s my turn, and I know that there will be some difference of opinions – when you’re looking at a pool like this one, everyone is bound to have their own favorites for various reasons.

A lot has changed since the last time I ranked Detroit’s prospects. Here’s how the Red Wings’ top-25 prospects shake out after adding their latest draft class.

25. (D) Anton Johansson – 2022, 105th Overall

2022-23 Stats: Leksands IF J20 (J20 Nationell) – 32 Games Played (GP), 6 Goals (G), 13 Points (P)

Previous Rank: 25

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Anton Johansson. He was quite effective this season at the J20 level, and even though he didn’t light it up during his 21-game stay in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), he didn’t really look out of place either. At 19 years old, he has good size at 6-foot-4, 196 pounds, and his play on the ice reflects a mature player that understands when to take his chances.

Related: Red Wings’ 2023 Draft Class Provides Depth & Debate

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As was mentioned last time around, Johansson will need to find a way to assert himself on the ice in order to take his game to another level. He might not be anything more than a puck-moving, bottom-pairing defenseman at the NHL level, but he’ll need to take a few steps as a playmaker to get there. If he can spend most, if not all, of the 2023-24 season in the SHL, that will be a positive development in terms of his ability to play against fully-grown men. If he can start putting up meaningful numbers in that league, he’s a prospect that could shoot up these rankings the next time around.

24. (D) Antti Tuomisto – 2019, 35th Overall

TPS (Liiga) – 60 GP, 5 G, 20 P

Previous Rank: 19

Just when I was about to write off Antti Tuomisto, he and the Red Wings put pen to paper on a two-year contract that begins this season. The 22-year-old Finnish defenseman was the second player drafted by Yzerman in his current role, and while Yzerman’s first pick (Moritz Seider) has developed into a top-pairing NHL defender, Tuomisto struggled to stand out from the crowd while playing for a championship University of Denver team from 2020 to 2022. He then returned home and had a good enough season that he now finds himself heading back to the United States.

Tuomisto will be battling with a number of prospects for ice time on the Grand Rapids Griffins’ blue line in the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. If he struggles to stand out again, he’ll likely take his booming shot and large frame to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. He has the tools to turn some heads this season – he always has – but the onus is on him to show that the long, winding road of his development is about to get a lot more scenic.

23. (C/LW) Liam Dower Nilsson – 2021, 134th Overall

Västerås IK (HockeyAllsvenskan) – 32 GP, 3 G, 15 P

Previous Rank: 18

Liam Dower Nilsson’s playmaking took a step forward last season. While his two-way abilities and compete level remain his best assets, he is starting to look like a player that could produce points at higher levels of competition. To that point, he has five points in 32 SHL games since the Red Wings took him in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. He has to prove himself at that level before anyone should get too excited about his offensive potential.

Dower Nilsson is a project pick, no doubt about it. That being said, this coming season will be a big one for him as he tries to carve out his niche, hopefully in the SHL. It will be interesting to see how effective of a playmaker he is with another summer of training under his belt and another year of experience to his credit. He’s a smart player, so I wouldn’t discount his ability to find ways to make an impact one way or another.

22. (C) Redmond “Red” Savage – 2021, 114th Overall

Miami University (Ohio) (NCAA) – 32 GP, 7 G, 14 P

Previous Rank: 17

Redmond Savage’s time with Miami University (Ohio) will be mostly remembered for all the losing that happened over those two seasons. The Redhawks won a total 15 out of 72 games over that span, and Savage was routinely stuck defending against teams that were simply too good to contain. He had 13 goals and 30 points over his two seasons, and now looks forward to a new opportunity with Michigan State University.

Savage has always been a high-character, high-compete forward that could burn you if you afforded him space in the offensive zone. The pool of talent he’ll be playing with in East Lansing will be better, and expectations will be higher because of it. Given his history wearing a ‘C’ on his sweater during international competition, expect him to assume a leadership role with the Spartans in what will be his Junior year of college hockey. A strong season could lead to an assignment to Grand Rapids once Michigan State concludes their season…

21. (C/RW) Theodor Niederbach – 2020, 51st Overall

MoDo Hockey (HockeyAllsvenskan) – 31 GP, 7 G, 18 P

Previous Rank: 15

Technically, this season was a step backwards for Theodor Niederbach. After spending all of the 2021-22 season in the SHL, he spent the majority of this past season in the HockeyAllsvenkan, which is the Swedish comparable to the AHL. At that level, he performed well. He displayed the ability to contribute to, create, and finish plays in the offensive zone. When he is at his best, he is truly hard to contain and looks like one of the smartest players on the ice. At his worst, he’s a virtual non-factor. If he can develop some consistency, he should find his way back to the SHL.

What was really encouraging about Niederbach this past season was his performance in the playoffs with MoDo. He recorded 12 points in 17 games and was in on almost everything his time tried to do. Was that performance a sign of things to come, or did he just get hot at the right time? As the biggest fallers on this list, it needs to be the latter in order to reverse course and climb back into the top-20.

20. (LW/C) Noah Dower Nilsson – 2023, 73rd Overall

Frölunda HC J20 (J20 Nationell) – 37 GP, 26 G, 54 P

Previous Rank: 2023 Draftee

Noah Dower Nilsson, Liam’s younger brother, makes his debut here. Though he was a third round selection in this year’s draft, there’s a decent chance that Noah becomes one of the best players to come from the Red Wings’ 2023 draft class. He offers a blend of skill and pure offensive ability that could one day translate into a steady 20-goal scorer in the NHL.

Like his brother, he is a bit raw in his current state, but he’ll be one to keep an eye on over the coming years. After dominating at the J20 level this past season, the next step is to find a way to have that same level of success against higher competition. He’s the type of player that likes to take charge in the offensive zone, whether it’s by driving to the net or letting off a snap shot that puts the goalie on notice. Maintaining that moxie will be key in his development, but he would also benefit from learning to utilize his teammates more.

19. (RW) Alexandre Doucet – Undrafted Free Agent

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (2 Teams) – 70 GP, 58 G, 115 P

Previous Rank: NR

Alexandre Doucet was a nice addition to the Red Wings’ prospect pool when the team signed him to entry-level contract (ELC) as an undrafted free agent back in March. He’s a 21-year-old forward with good stick skills and offensive pop, and he proved it by finishing with the third-most points in the QMJHL this season. Now it’s time for him to prove he can do it against professionals.

Doucet was highly effective at getting pucks through defenders during the 2022-23 campaign, whether it was a shot on goal or a cross-ice pass. He can read the play in front of him and react accordingly, and he does it at both ends of the ice – a fact that will please his coaches next season. If he hits the ground running next season and is making an impact for the Griffins on a nightly basis, he’s going to soar up these rankings. Right now the question is whether he’s a late developer, or it’s a case of a 21-year-old playing in a league where the majority of the player base is younger than him.

18. (LW) Dylan James – 2022, 40th Overall

University of North Dakota (NCAA) – 36 GP, 8 G, 16 P

Previous Rank: 16

Dylan James had an okay season with the University of Denver. He experienced ups and downs along the way, but seemed to be on track by the end of the season. He’s a scrappy player that, at his best, is a force in all areas of the ice. He wins board battles and he goes to the net in the offensive zone. In his own end, he battles and looks to force turnovers. If he can take a few steps in his sophomore season, he’s going to become some people’s favorite prospect in this pool.

Consistency is key. James started the 2022-23 season with two goals and seven points in his first 13 games, but then had a stretch from December to March where he had just two points, both goals, in 17 games. His final six games of the season saw him record four goals and seven points, and that provides a lot of optimism for where he’s starting things off next season. However, he has to prove that those final six games weren’t just a random hot streak. He’s a solid prospect with middle six potential, but he needs to take some steps to keep pace with other names in this pool.

17. (D) Eemil Viro – 2020, 70th Overall

Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) – 48 GP, 1 G, 8 P

Previous Rank: 12

Eemil Viro remained true to character in his first season in North America. He played a quiet, steady game, but didn’t really pop in any particular area. While he spent most of the season in Grand Rapids with the Griffins, he did have a five-game stint in Toledo, where he put up three points as a member of the Walleye. Ultimately his season could have been better, but it also could have been worse. Another year in the AHL – and another year scratching and clawing for ice time – awaits him.

Eemil Viro Grand Rapids Griffins
Eemil Viro, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

This could prove to be a pivotal year in Viro’s development. The Griffins’ blue line already looks to be pretty crowded, and reinforcements could be coming from overseas and the collegiate level at the end of the season. For Viro to maintain his spot in the AHL, he’ll need to find ways to make a bigger impact. He’s never going to produce a ton of points from the blue line, but he can carve out a permanent role for himself by becoming a consistent shut-down defenseman. It’s a stretch to call this a make it or break it season for him, but I do hope to see him trending upward when it’s time for the next ranking.

16. (D) Andrew Gibson – 2023, 42nd Overall

Soo Greyhounds (OHL) – 45 GP, 7 G, 21 P

Previous Rank: 2023 Draftee

From the very beginning of the GM Yzerman era, the Red Wings have been willing to use early second round picks on raw defensemen with high upside. Tuomisto fit that profile back in 2019, and now Andrew Gibson fits that profile here in 2023. The developmental runway here will probably be long, but if enough things go right along the way, he could become a solid middle-pairing, two-way defender.

Gibson likes to be a part of the action in the offensive zone. He moves the puck well, and he looks for opportunities to shoot the puck. He also engages in the physical side of the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him evolve into a playoff warrior in the future. His development is going to hinge on how high he can elevate his offensive game while also being able to hold his own in his own end. It’s going to be fun to watch him mature as a hockey player.

15. (D) Shai Buium – 2021, 36th Overall

University of Denver (NCAA) – 38 GP, 4 G, 21 P

Previous Rank: 11

2021’s entry in the “second-round draft selection with raw skill and high upside” category was Shai Buium. After winning a national championship with the University of Denver in his freshman season, the hope was to see him take a step forward and play a bigger role in his sophomore season. His stat line saw a one goal and three point boost, and his ice time was steadier than the previous season. He endured his share of slumps and struggles this season, but finishing with a points per-game rate higher than .50 is a good sign.

Buium is a faller in these rankings almost entirely because of new entries ranked ahead of him. He hasn’t done much to hurt his stock in terms of these rankings, but he also hasn’t done enough to raise his stock – not yet at least. Considering he is still just 20 years old, there is still plenty of room for growth in his game. He seems poised to take on a big role in his junior season.

14. Jared McIsaac – 2018, 36th Overall

Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) – 61 GP, 3 G, 22 P

Previous Rank: 9

At 23 years of age, Jared McIsaac is the oldest player included in these rankings. He was added to the organization in the final draft of former GM Ken Holland’s tenure, and the three players the Red Wings picked ahead of him (Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren) are all in the NHL now. McIsaac has seen a lot of turnover on the Griffins’ blue line since joining them three seasons ago, but now his future with the organization probably comes down to how the 2023-24 season goes for him.

The Red Wings and McIsaac recently came to an agreement on a one-year deal after his ELC expired after last season. Given all the youth that will be vying for jobs on the Griffins’ blue line this season, he probably fits in the lineup as an elder statesman that can show them what being a pro is all about. He fought back from three long-term injuries from 2019 to 2021, and that makes him easy to cheer for as he continues to chase his NHL dream. He has to find another gear to make that dream a reality, especially considering the sheer amount of defensive depth he’s up against in Detroit’s system.

13. (G) Trey Augustine – 2023, 41st Overall

U.S. National U18 Team (National Team Development Program) – 33 GP, 29-1-2, 2.13 GAA, .926 SV%, 29-1-2

Previous Rank: 2023 Draftee

Depending on who you ask, the Red Wings might have added the top goaltending prospect in the 2023 draft class with their first pick in the second round. THW’s own Peter Baracchini had Trey Augustine ranked 32nd overall in his final rankings, while Central Scouting had him ranked as the third-best North American goalie prospect. Regardless of whose opinion you value most when it comes to prospects, it was accepted by virtually everyone that Augustine is a quality prospect that plays a position that is notoriously hard to scout.

Augustine moves very well in the crease and plays within his means. He isn’t huge, standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 190 pounds, but he uses sound, technical movements to keep himself square to the puck. Given how well he already understands the position, I feel pretty good about projecting him as at least a future backup in the NHL. He is set to join Savage at Michigan State University this season, so the Red Wings’ development staff will have a close eye on him. Augustine was a great addition in the 2023 draft, but he was also perhaps the Red Wings’ most interesting selection in the grand scheme of their prospect pool. More on that later…

12. (LW) Dmitri Buchelnikov – 2022, 52nd Overall

SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL) – 35 GP, 15 G, 28 P

Previous Rank: 8

Dmitri Buchelnikov is one of the most interesting players in this pool. His skill is undeniable, and it’s not hard to imagine him becoming a factor in the Red Wings’ top six sometime in the future. His NHL timeline is also fairly murky, and there really isn’t much of a defensive game to speak of at this point in his young career. Still, he had a solid season in what is Russia’s equivalent of the AHL. The hope is that he’ll take another step and spend most of next season in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Buchelnikov still has two seasons left on his contract that keeps him in Russia until the end of the 2024-25 season. Who knows what the Red Wings’ depth chart will look like by then, and who knows if he’ll be ready to make the leap to the NHL. In terms of raw skill, he is one of Detroit’s top prospects, but every prospect ranked ahead of him here has a comparable skill level while also being a bit easier to project at the NHL level. That being said, it is a testament to this pool’s depth that a prospect like this is ranked outside of the top 10.

11. (C) Amadeus Lombardi – 2022, 113th Overall

Flint Firebirds (OHL) – 67 GP, 45 G, 102 P

Previous Rank: 13

I am probably lower on Amadeus Lombardi than most, but it’s not because I’m not excited about this prospect. In fact, just like Buchelnikov, his placement here is more of a testament to the players ranked ahead of him than it is a commentary on his own play. To that point, he made his debut on this list at 23 a year ago. A year later, he is just outside of the top 10.

Amadeus Lombardi Flint Firebirds
Amadeus Lombardi, Flint Firebirds (Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

Lombardi was drafted as an overage prospect that was overlooked due to the OHL not holding a 2020-21 season because of the pandemic. Since then, he recorded 161 points over 134 games and was worth the price of admission for fans of the Flint Firebirds. He is fast, he can make plays at top speed, and he has a knack for putting the puck in the net. He reminds me of Andreas Athanasiou, another former fourth round pick of the Red Wings. There may be some people out there that are convinced he’s a future top six stud, I need to see his momentum continue at the AHL level this season before I can get on board with that projection. Regardless, it already seems like Detroit is going to get great value out of this fourth round selection.

10. (RW) Cross Hanas – 2020, 55th Overall

Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) – 30 GP, 9 G, 17 P

Previous Rank: 7

Cross Hanas was on his way to having a successful first professional season before a shoulder injury (and eventual shoulder surgery) cut his season short in February. He was a standout during last year’s Traverse City Prospects Tournament, and he generally looked competent during the preseason. The Texas-native carried over his strong play to the AHL as he was fairly consistent, never going more than five games without recording a point. He made a name for himself at the junior level with his playmaking abilities, but he seemed to develop some scoring touch in his first season of pro hockey.

Like others on this list, Hanas isn’t necessarily a faller here because of his own play. Obviously a full, healthy season would have been preferred, but he was good when he did play. He made mistakes along the way and I have some concern about his discipline (22 penalty minutes, including 12 in the month of January alone), but I also have to acknowledge that these are things that most first-year players deal with. Assuming he arrives at training camp healthy and hungry, I expect that he’s going to be a top six player for the Griffins this season and be a big part of their offense. If all goes well, he could be a call up candidate later in the season.

9. (LW/RW) Elmer Söderblom – 2019, 159th Overall

Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) – 20 GP, 5 G, 8 P

Previous Rank: NR

Elmer Söderblom taught me a great lesson when it comes to making these rankings. Last time around, I did not include him because he was only a few games away from exceeding the 25-game rookie limit set by the NHL. I figured he would lose his prospect status shortly after that last ranking was published, so I considered him “graduated” despite the fact he technically wasn’t yet.

Perhaps that’s kind of the point of why he’s ranked here, though. He played 21 games with the Red Wings last season after making the team out of training camp. But some inconsistencies creeped into his game, so he was sent down to Grand Rapids to iron out his game a bit further. His stat line in the AHL matched his NHL stat line, though he played a bigger role with the Griffins than he did with the Red Wings. He remains a large prospect with underrated hands and mobility that could become a middle six scoring winger if his offensive game can take a few steps forward. As of today, he is arguably their most NHL-ready prospect, but likely tops out as a bottom six winger due to his overall inconsistency. His physical tools will keep him in the mix, however.

8. (G) Sebastian Cossa – 2021, 15th Overall

Toledo Walleye (ECHL) – 46 GP, 26-16-1, 2.56 GAA, .913 SV%

Previous Rank: 6

This is the lowest I have ever ranked Sebastian Cossa since the Red Wings made him the first goaltender off the board in the 2021 draft. After falling from five to six the last time around, he falls a couple more spots this time around. In our midseason rankings, he fell because he was struggling to adapt in his first professional season. However, as you may have heard, he actually had quite a strong finish to the season and was a big reason why the Walleye were able to reach the Conference Finals this season in the ECHL. Entering his second season as a professional, the goal for him is to hold down a spot on the Griffins’ roster and compete with free agent signee Alex Lyon and Walleye teammate John Lethemon for starts.

Related: Red Wings’ Cossa Having an Excellent Season in the ECHL

However, this is why the addition of Augustine is such an interesting one. The Red Wings’ decision to take Cossa in 2021 received a lot of skepticism then and it continues to do so today, especially after he had an inconsistent season in the ECHL. All of that considered, some might look at the Augustine pick and assume that the Red Wings aren’t as sold on their second pick in the 2021 draft as they were two years ago. I am choosing to look at it as an embarrassment of riches – how many teams can say they have two potential starters in their prospect pool? Regardless of how you look at it, it is abundantly clear that the race to become the Red Wings’ goaltender of the future isn’t as cut and dry as it used to be. For a competitive individual like Cossa, that should help bring out the best in him.

7. (D) William Wallinder – 2020, 32nd Overall

Rögle BK (SHL) – 50 GP, 7 G, 26 P

Previous Rank: 4

Continuing with the theme, William Wallinder was the 2020 version of a “raw defense prospect with high upside”. He was one of two late-season ELCs signed by the Red Wings, and he was able to make it across the pond to suit up for one game with the Griffins. That is where he will most likely start the 2023-24 season, and he could be set up to take on a big role depending on who else is patrolling the blue line in Grand Rapids.

Wallinder is a skilled defenseman that fits the size profile Detroit has sought after in the draft. When he controls and moves the puck, he always looks to make things happen, and that could position him to play a role on the Griffins’ power play this season. His defensive game has taken some steps since he was drafted, but it is still the area of his game that needs the most work. For him to push for an NHL job over the next year or two, he’ll need to prove he can create offense from the back end without taking unnecessary risks in the offensive zone. It will be interesting to see how much of his game transfers to North American ice rinks.

6. (D) Albert Johansson – 2019, 60th Overall

Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) – 53 GP, 5 G, 15 P

Previous Rank: 3

As a long-time advocate for Albert Johansson, it pains me a little bit to drop him three spots here. In all honesty, I could be easily convinced that he still belongs in the top five, and he might even be the Red Wings’ most NHL-ready defensive prospect. You see, had he not been injured early in March, he might have received a late-season call up to the NHL. Don’t take it from me, take it from Griffins GM Shawn Horcoff.

“[Johansson’s injury was] too bad, because at that time he was probably in a position to be called up and play some NHL games,” Horcoff said following the conclusion of the Griffins’ season. “But for him it’s not a continuation of last summer. He’s got plenty of time.”

Albert Johansson Grand Rapids Griffins
Albert Johansson, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Johansson plays a cerebral game that translated well to the North American game. His offensive numbers don’t jump out at you, but he is an effective puck-mover, and the Griffins’ overall lack of offensive talent probably stunted his offensive ceiling last season. This season, he should have a better collection of talent to play with, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that has followed his development to see him make a good push to make the Red Wings’ lineup out of training camp. He’s the ultimate two-way, complimentary defenseman that can play both sides of the blue line and still make an impact. I remain very high on this prospect.

5. (C) Nate Danielson – 2023, 9th Overall

Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – 68 GP, 33 G, 78 P

Previous Rank: 2023 Draftee

One thing about me: I’m going to stick to my guns until proven wrong. When I released my own rankings for the 2023 draft class, I had Nate Danielson ranked 18th. Needless to say, I felt like the Red Wings taking him at ninth overall was a bit of reach, especially considering the other names that were still on the board.

That being said, Danielson is still a quality prospect that instantly became one of Detroit’s best when they called his name. He was a co-captain in the Western Hockey League last season at just 18 years old, and he never takes a shift off. He’s hard to play against, which fits right into the identity Yzerman and Draper are trying to mold the Red Wings into. Danielson flashed some serious skill last season despite playing for one of the weaker teams in the WHL (the Wheat Kings won just 26 out of 68 games last season.) I think he projects as a top-tier second line center in his prime, though I am a little worried that that that projection is a best-case scenario for him and not immune from potential setbacks. Regardless, I do think he’ll be an NHL player within a year or two, and a solid one at that.

4. (D) Axel Sandin Pellikka – 2023, 17th Overall

Skellefteå AIK J20 (J20 Nationell) – 31 GP, 16 G, 36 P

Previous Rank: 2023 Draftee

In those draft rankings I released, I had Axel Sandin Pellikka ranked four spots ahead of Danielson. While I have gained some appreciation for the Danielson pick since the draft, I still think they scored an absolute slam dunk with their second pick in the first round. Because of that, Sandin Pellikka makes his debut on this list ahead of the player the Red Wings drafted ahead of him – be sure to tell me I’m wrong down in the comments section!

Sandin Pellikka is, in some ways, the antithesis of the type of defensemen Detroit has looked for over the last five drafts. He stands at just 5-foot-11 and, by golly, he is right-handed instead of left-handed. He’s a highly skilled, highly mobile defenseman that absolutely dominated at the J20 level this season. That resulted in 22 games in the SHL last season and, while he wasn’t nearly has offensively potent, he was able to hold his own in what is a defense-first league. Smarter people than me have compared him to Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, and that would be a welcome addition to what is shaping up to be an absolutely stacked Red Wings blue line.

3. (LW) Carter Mazur – 2021, 70th Overall

University of Denver (NCAA) – 40 GP, 22 G, 37 P

Previous Rank: 5

Quite frankly, not enough people – Red Wings fan or not – know who Carter Mazur is. After what he did this past season, he is easily one of the most exciting prospects in this pool. No matter where he played – college, the AHL, and even as a member of Team USA at the world championship – he excelled and made his presence known. Now he enters the 2023-24 season as one of the prospects with the best shot at making the Red Wings’ roster.

While wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater in his sophomore season, he led the Denver Pioneers in goals and finished second in points. In his six-game cameo appearance with the Griffins late in the season, he recorded three goals and six points. Four points and a plus-9 rating with Team USA isn’t anything to scoff at either. His blend of physicality and skill makes him a suitable fit to fill the void left by Tyler Bertuzzi, whether that happens this season or next. Sandin Pellikka and Danielson both probably have higher ceilings than Mazur, but the latter seems to be knocking on the NHL’s door already, and that certainly counts for something.

Seriously, claim your membership on the Mazur hype train before everyone else does.

2. (C) Marco Kasper – 2022, 8th Overall

Rögle BK (SHL) – 52 GP, 8 G, 23 P

Previous Rank: 2

Like Danielson this year, I wasn’t sold on Marco Kasper when the Red Wings made him their top pick in the 2022 draft. Since then, Kasper has done a lot to win me over. First and foremost is his overall work ethic and willingness to engage in battles all over the ice. He’s going to gobble up a ton of ice time in his prime because he can fill multiple roles, including both the power play and the penalty kill. To top it all off, he made his NHL debut late in the season and was effective in 14:59 of ice time against the Toronto Maple Leafs – oh, and he did it on one good knee.

I was quite tempted to move Kasper up to first in these rankings because, to be honest, I think he might have the best shot at capturing a spot with the Red Wings out of training camp. I think it speaks to the organization’s faith in him that they had him wear the winged wheel right away instead of reporting to Grand Rapids. He could probably find instant success in a top nine role with the Red Wings, but their current depth chart likely forces him to at least start the season with the Griffins. I don’t think he’ll be in the AHL long, though. I’m still not sure if he’s got the goods to be a top line center in the NHL, but I’m much more of a believer today than I was a year ago.

1. (D) Simon Edvinsson – 2021, 6th Overall

Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) – 52 GP, 5 G, 27 P

Previous Rank: 1

Simon Edvinsson holds steady in the top spot for the third ranking in a row. The highest-drafted player on this list, he made his North American debut last season and experienced some success at the AHL level before playing nine games with the Red Wings after the trade deadline. At his best, he outclassed his competition in the AHL. At his worst, the bad habits in his game that go back to before he was drafted were present and easy to exploit. But through all of it, one thing remained clear: this kid has sky-high potential.

Simon Edvinsson Detroit Red Wings
Simon Edvinsson, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After his short stint in Detroit last season, it is fair to assume that he is the Red Wings’ most NHL-ready prospect. However, the blue line in Detroit is currently filled up with NHL contracts after Yzerman signed Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Holl in free agency, and that forces Edvinsson to elevate his game further if he wants to start his season in Detroit. Unless he makes that leap, he will begin the season in Grand Rapids. There, he will be tasked with doing everything he can to dominate at that level and give the Red Wings’ front office no choice but to make room in the lineup for him.

Top Prospects by Position

Left Wing Center Right Wing

Carter Mazur Marco Kasper Cross Hanas

Elmer Söderblom Nate Danielson Alexandre Doucet

Dmitri Buchelnikov Amadeus Lombardi
Dylan James Theodor Niederbach
Noah Dower Nilsson Redmond Savage
Liam Dower Nilsson
Left Defense Right Defense

Simon Edvinsson Axel Sandin Pellikka

Albert Johansson Andrew Gibson

William Wallinder Antti Tuomisto

Jared McIsaac Anton Johansson

Shai Buium
Eemil Viro

Sebastian Cossa

Trey Augustine

Just Missed….

  • (G) Carter Gylander
  • (LW/C) Maximilian Kilpinen
  • (G) Jan Bednář
  • (C) Owen Mehlenbacher
  • (D) Brady Cleveland

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