Red Wings Prospect Report: Danielson and Augustine Flourishing

The Hockey Writers

The Detroit Red Wings have one of the deepest and most talent-loaded prospect pools in the NHL, with plenty of future NHL players developing in their system. The Red Wings have landed high-end prospects in each NHL Draft since Steve Yzerman joined the franchise as the General Manager, with varying degrees of success. 

Detroit Red Wings Prospects Report
Detroit Red Wings Prospects Report (The Hockey Writers)

Guys like Sebastian Cossa and Marco Kasper are succeeding and delivering on the massive hype that surrounded them in their draft years while prospects who went in the second round like Jonatan Berggren and Trey Augustine are flourishing, showing why Detroit was right to give them a chance. 

Related: Red Wings’ Path to the 2024 Playoffs Becoming Clear

Today we’re going to take a deep dive into how six of the Red Wings’ top prospects have been doing of late across four separate leagues. These players are likely to be the future of Hockey Town so it’s important that they continue to develop at such a positive rate. 

Danielson’s Offense Arrives

After spending his whole WHL career with the Brandon Wheat Kings, a team that was consistently scoring very few goals, Danielson has finally had the chance to play on a high-flying offensive team recently with the Portland Winterhawks. While the points haven’t really popped quite like some expected from Danielson this year, he has certainly looked more confident offensively since being traded.

26 points through 26 games with Brandon was a step back production-wise from Danielson’s draft year, but his scoring rate has increased significantly with Portland, scoring 26 points in his first 20 games on one of the WHL’s best teams. It was always clear that pure offensive numbers weren’t likely to be Danielson’s calling card, but it’s encouraging to see him build some confidence and swagger in the o-zone as the year continues. 

Nate Danielson Detroit Red Wings
Nate Danielson, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Whenever I watch Danielson, I still see a great pro player, with the size, skating and skill to be an effective middle-six center, with room to become more if his offensive game develops. If you include his great showing at training camp and in the NHL preseason in September, this has been a really solid year for Danielson, and I expect we’ll see him in the AHL next Fall (he has played four WHL seasons and is therefore eligible for the AHL) unless he works his way into the NHL lineup for opening night.

Kasper’s Second Half Success

After a tough adjustment period to start the season, Kasper has looked much more confident and has found a lot more success in the AHL. When the calendar turned to 2024, something changed for him and he’s now sitting at roughly a half-point per game scoring rate. Kasper’s 25 points through 51 games is quite similar to his scoring in the SHL last season where he had 23 points in 52 games, but there are still 21 games on the schedule this year for the Griffins and I expect Kasper to easily surpass 30 points this year.

Related: Marco Kasper Bouncing Back After Slow AHL Start

Along with the increased point production, Kasper has looked a lot more confident as a forechecker, creating offense for his team through pressure and hard work. There have been multiple goals lately where you won’t find Kasper on the score sheet with an assist, but where his compete level was directly responsible for a Griffins goal. I expect he will stick around in Grand Rapids again next season, but I don’t think he’ll be sticking around for very long considering the value he could add to Detroit’s bottom-six forward group.

What More Can Berggren Prove in the AHL?

Berggren is too good for the AHL, plain and simple. He’s got 45 points in 42 games there this year, but since arriving in North America for the 2021-22 season, he has scored an impressive 116 points in 119 AHL games. He was a regular in the NHL lineup last season, and was quite successful in a fairly sheltered role. It seemed he was a lock to stick with the Red Wings but that wasn’t the case as the additions of offensive wingers like Alex DeBrincat, Daniel Sprong and Patrick Kane pushed him out of the lineup completely.

Jonatan Berggren Detroit Red Wings
Jonatan Berggren, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

In 76 career NHL games, Berggren has scored 33 points, a pretty solid number for a young forward. It’s not quite clear what he needs to do in order to earn his way back into the NHL lineup at this point. Is it just a matter of time? Could the Red Wings be planning on moving on from one or both of Sprong/Kane in the next six months, opening up a spot for Berggren? He’s not particularly far behind Sprong in my estimation so it wouldn’t surprise me if he took that spot in the lineup next year considering the pay-raise that Sprong will be looking for.

I expect Berggren to be with the Red Wings full time again next season. They added three offense-only wingers this year and that really hurt his role in the lineup, but I don’t expect all three of those guys to stick around for the 2024-25 season, making space for one of Detroit’s most offensively gifted prospects.

Sebastian Cossa Continues to Prove Doubters Wrong

There has been a lot of “Bust” talk surrounding Sebastian Cossa since the 2021 Draft, with many people bemoaning Detroit’s decision to draft him over Jesper Wallstedt. While it hasn’t been particularly smooth, Cossa’s development has taken a big step in the right direction this season. After a mediocre final season in the WHL, followed by a great season in the ECHL, Cossa has looked like a legit top goalie prospect this year in the AHL.

It doesn’t hurt that he has beaten both Wallstedt and another high-end goalie prospect Yaroslav Askarov multiple times each in the AHL this season. Cossa holds the fifth best save percentage (SV%) among U22 goalies in the AHL, and maintained a winning record with a fairly heavy workload for an AHL rookie.

Sebastian Cossa Detroit Red Wings
Sebastian Cossa, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Cossa is clearly back on the path to being an NHL starter, which is what Detroit drafted him to be, and doesn’t seem nearly as far away from reaching that goal as he did just a year ago. If he can build on this season as a full-time starter for the Griffins next year, then Cossa will begin to draw a lot more attention and hype.

Trey Augustine Shines in the Spotlight

Trey Augustine’s freshman season with Michigan State University (MSU) has been wildly successful. He helped lead the Spartans to their first ever outright regular season BigTen title with one of his best performances being a 44 save masterpiece against No. 4 Wisconsin in the final regular season game of the season. 

Related: The NHL’s Top 100 Prospects – Midseason Update

Augustine has had an incredible year, with a U18 World Juniors Gold, World Juniors Gold, and now BigTen title all coming within the past 12 months. He has proven that he plays his best hockey when the stage is biggest, keeping calm and controlled no matter the stakes of the match. Augustine has gotten better and better all season, and finished the year with a .917 SV% to go with a 20-7-2 record. 

Most of his important statistics rank second among U20 goalies in the NCAA this season behind Jacob Fowler who had an excellent season for Boston College. It is worth mentioning that Fowler played behind a team with a lot of drafted NHL talent while Augustine didn’t, though Fowler was absolutely a huge part of BC’s success as well.

Trey Augustine Michigan State University
Trey Augustine, Michigan State University (MSU Athletic Communications)

Augustine is almost certainly going to spend another year in the NCAA next season, and is also eligible to compete for a third time in the U20 World Junior Championship next December. I expect he’ll continue to be a steadying presence for MSU once again before being faced with the big decision of turning pro or not for the 2025-26 season.

Dmitri Buchelnikov is the KHL Rookie of the Month

After dominating the top Russian junior league, and their second-tier pro league in back-to-back seasons, it was great to see Buchelnikov earn a full time role in the KHL, even though it meant being loaned to a lesser team. He’s currently third on his team in scoring, which is impressive for the 20-year-old who many thought wouldn’t succeed against grown men because of his slight frame (5-foot-10, 170 pounds). 

Buch has found plenty of ways to contribute despite his size, sneaking around the offensive zone to find openings and scoring 13 goals already. In fact, he has played so well lately that he was named KHL rookie of the month in February after scoring seven points in 11 games. Buchlenikov has gone from an unknown prospect to looking like a player who was very much worthy of a second round pick.

He currently sits fifth in points among all U21 players in the KHL and should be able to build on this season well in 2024-25. He has just one more season on his KHL contract, meaning he would be eligible to join either the Red Wings or the Griffins for the 2025-26 season. Buch is still in tough to earn a spot with his KHL squad SKA St. Petersburg as he’ll be battling with Matvei Michkov and Ivan Demidov for a roster spot next year, but I think he’d do best in a top-six role on a weaker team again next season anyway.

Red Wings’ Prospect Pool in Great Shape

After so many years of lackluster play and drafting, the Red Wings really seem to be on the rise again. The playoffs are a real possibility for the team for the first time in nearly a decade, and their prospect pool is still very promising. I didn’t even mention guys like Simon Edvinsson or Axel Sandin Pellikka who both project to be meaningful NHL defenders, both likely in the team’s top-four.

Simon Edvinsson Grand Rapids Griffins
Simon Edvinsson, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Even if their playoff spot slips away to end the year, there is still a ton to be positive about in Hockey Town, and lots of talent waiting in the wings (pun intended).

Which prospect from this group do you think makes the NHL soonest? Is Berggren ever going to suit up in the Winged Wheel again? How long do you think it’ll be before Cossa and Augustine play in the NHL? Sound off in the comment section below!

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