Detroit — Sports fans might be in full football mode, but guess what — the Red Wings are back in action this weekend.
Okay, calm down. Not the real Red Wings.
The 24th annual NHL Prospects Tournament takes place at Traverse City’s Centre ICE Arena, a four-team event this season, with the Wings’ roster composed of some of their best prospects.
Thirteen of the 24 players on the roster are former Wings draft picks, with three first-round picks, in addition to four second-round picks and one third-round selection.
The Wings begin the round-robin tournament on Thursday, facing the Dallas Stars’ prospects at 6:30 p.m. The Wings play Columbus on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and conclude the weekend playing Sunday against Toronto at 2 p.m.
All three games will be streamed on detroitredwings.com, Red Wings Facebook and YouTube.
Here are some Wings players to watch at this tournament (in alphabetical order), which has had 756 players who have moved on to play at least one NHL game, including 20 who played for the Red Wings last season.
▶ Sebastian Cossa, goaltender: The 2021 first-round pick (15th overall) will likely begin the season in Grand Rapids after an impressive finish last season in Toledo, helping lead the Walleye to the conference finals. Cossa isn’t yet on the NHL radar, but a good season with the Griffins could possibly open the door in 2024. The organization liked how Cossa progressed last season.
▶ Nate Danielson, center: The Wings’ first-round pick in June (ninth overall) has an opportunity to make the Wings change their minds. The expected route for Danielson is sending him back to junior hockey in Brandon (WHL) for another season. But if Danielson shows enough in this camp, then in the exhibition season, there’s a chance the Wings send him to Grand Rapids instead. Danielson was a diligent, trusted two-way player in juniors. Will it translate to this tournament against some of the best NHL prospects?
▶ Marco Kasper, center: Judging from fans’ comments, this might be the player Wings fans want to see most of all. The 2022 first-round pick (eighth overall) had an impressive season in Sweden before landing in the NHL and playing in one game with the Wings before suffering a knee injury that evening. All signs point to Kasper beginning the season with the Griffins. But again, if Kasper shows he’s capable of handling an NHL role and if some injuries take place, it wouldn’t be outlandish to think Kasper could land an immediate NHL job.
▶ Carter Mazur, wing: The way the Wings’ roster is currently constructed, it seems impossible for Mazur to crack the opening-night lineup. But again, injuries do happen, and Mazur can help his cause with an impressive prospects tournament. The abrasive Jackson native didn’t look out of place playing for Team USA at the world championships last spring (four points in 10 games), and opened eyes during a brief stay with the Griffins (six points in six games).
▶ Elmer Soderblom, wing: Soderblom, a towering 6-foot-8 forward, was impressive last season in this tournament, then during exhibition games, and won an opening-night spot in the lineup. Soderblom had five goals and eight points in 21 NHL games, but eventually found himself in Grand Rapids, after some Wings returned from injuries. This will be Soderblom’s first chance to show he again deserves another NHL look.
Here is the Red Wings’ tournament roster:
▶ Forwards — Nate Danielson (Brandon (WHL) 2023 first round); Alexandre Doucet (Val-d’Or/Halifax (QJMHL), free agent); Emmitt Finnie (Kamloops (WHL), 2023 seventh round); Cross Hanas (Grand Rapids, 2020 second round); Marci Kasper (Rogie, SHL/Detroit), 2022 first round); Amadeus Lombardi (Flint, OHL/Grand Rapids, 2022 fourth round); Dean Loukas (Saginaw, (OHL), free agent invitee); Tnias Mathurin (North Bay (OHL), 2022 fifth round); Carter Mazur (University of Denver (NCHC)/Grand Rapids, 2021 third round); Matyas Melovsky (Baie-Com0 (QMJHL), free agent invitee); Riley Sawchuk (Mount Royal (CUWAA), AHL contract); Nic Sema (North Bay/Saginaw (OHL), free agent invitee); Elmer Soderholm (Detroit/Grand Rapids, 2019 sixth round); Jake Uberti (Mississauga/Acadie-Bathurst (OHL/QJMHL), free agent signee).
▶ Defensemen — Andrew Gibson (Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), 2023 second round); Antti Tuomisto (Assat, (Liiga), 2019 second round); William Wallinder (Rogle (SHL)/Grand Rapids, 2020 second round); Connor Punnett (Barrie (OHL), free agent); Finn Harding (Mississauga (OHL), free agent invitee); Jackson DeSouza (Kelowna (WHL), free agent invitee).
▶ Goalies — Sebastian Cossa (Grand Rapids/Toledo (ECHL), 2021 first round); Jan Bednar (Acadie-Bathurst, (QMJHL)/Toledo, 2020 fourth round); Lukas Matrcha (Dynamo- Pardubice (Czech Jr.), free agent).
NHL Prospects Tournament
▶ Who: Red Wings, Dallas, Columbus and Toronto.
▶ Where: Traverse City Centre I.C.E. Arena.
▶ Watch: Live-streamed on DetroitRedWings.com, Red Wings Facebook and YouTube.
▶ Wings’ schedule: Thursday vs. Dallas, 6:30 p.m, Saturday vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., Sunday vs. Toronto, 2 p.m.