When Will the Red Wings’ Top Prospects Arrive in the NHL?

The Hockey Writers

With the regular season wrapping up around the junior and college ranks, a handful of Detroit Red Wings prospects find themselves playing key roles for their respective teams. While the team has one of the league’s top prospect systems, when can we expect to see some of its top prospects in a Winged Wheel jersey?

G Trey Augustine

2023-24 stats (Michigan State University – NCAA): 21-8-2, .919 save percentage (SV%), 2.86 goals-against average (GAA), three shutouts

After being seen as a surprise pick by general manager Steve Yzerman in last year’s draft, even with being the third-ranked North American goaltender, Trey Augustine has silenced the potential doubters of his selection by the Red Wings in the second round during his freshman season at Michigan State University. This comes after he helped backstop Team USA to a gold medal at the 2024 World Junior Championship.

ETA of Red Wings' Top Prospects Simon Edvinsson, Trey Augustine and Nate Danielson
Simon Edvinsson, Trey Augustine and Nate Danielson (The Hockey Writers)

While not the biggest in stature (6-foot-1), Augustine’s skillset allows him to play a “bigger” game in the crease and can take away time and space on shooters. In his first season in college hockey, he has become one of the best goaltenders in the Division One ranks and helped the Spartans win their first Big Ten regular season championship this season. He is also a finalist for Goaltender of the Year in the conference.

While Augustine’s season has been quite impressive, he is also one of the youngest players in the college ranks, turning 19 years old on Feb. 23. With his age, the Red Wings are most likely to let him season and continue to develop at Michigan State for a while longer before having him jump to the professional ranks.

ETA: 2027-28

LW Dmitri Buchelnikov

2023-24 stats (three teams): 66 GP – 16 goals, 26 assists, 42 points

Another player that Yzerman drafted at an interesting point in the draft was his selection of Dmitri Buchelnkiov in the second round of the 2022 Draft. When taken, Buchelnikov was known more as an offensively-minded forward with a strong skillset in the offensive zone. His puck handling sticks out the most in his offensive game, but he has a strong shot and strong hockey IQ that allows him to find teammates.

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But this season, which he has spent most of with Admiral Vladivostok of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Buchelnikov has shown an improved all-around game that is seemingly underrated. This includes showing off the willingness to battle in the dirty areas of the ice and playing more of a sound defensive game as well. Even with this improved all-around game, it might still end up being a few years before he makes his way to the Red Wings lineup. His current contract in the KHL runs through the 2025-26 season.

With his skillset, and if he can continue to develop his game at both ends of the ice, he could find himself with a short stint with the Griffins in Grand Rapids before making his way to Detroit. He may not end up making the impact that someone like Sergei Fedorov or Pavel Datsyuk made for the Red Wings, but he could easily become yet another Russian-born player who carves out a solid career in a Winged Wheel jersey.

ETA: 2026-27 with a chance to earn a call-up during the 2025-26 season with solid play in Grand Rapids

G Sebastian Cossa

2023-24 stats (Grand Rapids Griffins – American Hockey League): 14-7-8, .911 SV%, 2.58 GAA, one shutout

After the Red Wings traded up in the 2021 Draft to take Sebastian Cossa, the hopes were that he would become the eventual franchise goalie the organization had been looking for. But after a subpar start to his professional career with the Griffins, he spent most of the season in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye, where he looked confident and capable. This earned him a promotion to Grand Rapids this season, where he had an up-and-down season to begin but has been able to showcase why the Red Wings drafted him with the 15th pick in 2021.

Sebastian Cossa Detroit Red Wings
Sebastian Cossa has looked solid for the Grand Rapids Griffins this season. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Cossa’s game has gone to another level as the season has progressed for the Griffins and he is a key reason why the team has had the success it has. He has seemingly been able to become more comfortable and confident in the crease this season and has looked every bit of the goalie that Yzerman and the Red Wings hoped he would. With the goaltending situation being unsettled with the organization going forward, Cossa could find himself in a position to earn a spot on the roster in the near future.

ETA: 2025-26

C Nate Danielson

2023-24 stats (Brandon Wheat Kings/Portland Winterhawks – Western Hockey League): 51 GP – 24 goals, 38 assists, 62 points

After being a surprise in his first preseason with the Red Wings, Nate Danielson has continued to be a highlight reel to watch for WHL and Red Wings fans. While being on a Brandon Wheat Kings team that struggled this season, Danielson was traded to Portland, where he has been able to better showcase his offensive game with a stronger team.

The reason the Red Wings drafted him was not due to his offense but more of his all-around, two-way game that he possesses. That has been displayed in the WHL this season and with Team Canada in the 2024 World Junior Championship. He stood out for Canada as one of its best all-around players while being a pest at both ends of the ice. His energy and motor have helped lead him to earn penalty-kill time as well as being a strong face-off player.

If Danielson’s game can stay at the pace and development it has so far this season, he should again find himself in a Red Wings jersey next preseason. While he may not be 100 percent ready for the jump to the NHL, he can be sent to Grand Rapids instead of back to junior hockey. This is because, after this season, he would have played four seasons in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). With a strong showing in the preseason, he should find himself in the Griffins’ lineup and the NHL not too long after.

ETA: 2025-26

D Simon Edvinsson

2023-24 stats (Grand Rapids): 52 GP – 8 goals, 21 assists, 29 points

The big-bodied defenseman that the Red Wings took with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 Draft, Simon Edvinsson, has begun to turn his game into a fully developed game, with many fans calling for him to get a full-time call-up now. With the Red Wings’ defense playing like they have this season, there is an outside chance he will earn that if the team continues to struggle.

Related: Red Wings Top 25 Prospects: 2023-24 Midseason Update

With the Griffins this season, Edvinsson has been the team’s strongest defenseman. He has been caught flat-footed or out of position a few times, but that happens to every defenseman. He is starting to become more involved offensively and that has put pressure on Yzerman and the organization to decide what to do with him. There should be no reason that the number nine ranked prospect in the NHL by our own Logan Horn does not find himself in a top-four and power-play role heading into the 2024-25 season.

ETA: 2024-25

C Marco Kasper

2023-24 stats (Grand Rapids): 56 GP – 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points

After making his NHL debut towards the end of last season, there were high hopes that 2022 first-round pick Marco Kasper could get healthy and make a push for a roster spot with the Red Wings this season. But he ended up in Grand Rapids due to the mix of off-season additions that Yzerman made and the fact that Kasper struggled in his preseason opportunities. His season started slow production-wise, but he kept pushing on and was a pest for opponents.

Marco Kasper Grand Rapids Griffins
Marco Kasper, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jonathan Kozub / Manitoba Moose)

Over time, the offense has started to pick up and match the rest of his play, and Kasper has become one of the Griffins’ better forwards this season. Whether it be jumping into the dirty areas and playing a physical game or finally starting to display his strong offensive skill set, he has shown that he is inching closer to being ready for the NHL level. Depending on what happens with the number of pending free agents the organization has this upcoming off-season, Kasper could find himself in a middle to bottom-six role with the team next season. This is also dependent on a strong training camp and preseason as well.

ETA: 2024-25

LW Carter Mazur

2023-24 stats (Grand Rapids): 50 GP – 15 goals, 16 assists, 31 points

Another player who is a pest and has a gritty side to his game, like Kasper, Carter Mazur has developed himself into a player who should find himself as a bottom-six type of player who can bring some depth scoring to the Red Wings’ lineup. There were hopes that he would have a strong showing in both the Traverse City Prospects Tournament and in training camp, but he ended up getting hurt in the tournament’s first game and missing out on an opportunity to showcase his developing game while being sent to Grand Rapids.

Mazur has showcased his game for the Griffins this season and should push for a spot in the lineup for the Red Wings, hopefully as early as next season if he can finish this season on a high note.

ETA: 2024-25

D Axel Sandin Pellikka

2023-24 stats (Skellefteå AIK- SHL): 39 GP – 10 goals, 8 assists, 18 points

With the pick the Red Wings acquired in the Filip Hronek trade with the Vancouver Canucks, they took Axel Sandin Pellikka. The 19-year-old Swedish defenseman has developed his game to the point that many have believed that Yzerman got a steal in the draft. Between his offensive game being the strongest suit of his game and slowly progressing defensively, Pellikka has earned high praise for his play in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) this season.

Axel Sandin Pellikka Team Sweden
Axel Sandin Pellikka, Team Sweden (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

While his defensive game could still use some work, his offensive game is very much a welcomed sign in the Red Wings pipeline and could lead to him making the jump to the NHL quicker than other players may. But players have found that making the jump to the North American style game is a learning curve. The most likely route for the Red Wings to go is the Moritz Seider route. Bringing Pellikka over to Grand Rapids and letting him get his feet wet in the professional game while adjusting to the play would do him wonders. If he can prove he is ready, there is a chance that he could earn a shot in the NHL lineup before the end of next season.

ETA: Late season call-up in 2024-25 with a full-time spot in 2025-26

LW/RW Elmer Soderblom

2023-24 stats (Grand Rapids): 52 GP: 9 goals, 15 assists, 24 points

After earning a spot in the opening night lineup with the Red Wings last season, big-bodied winger Elmer Soderblom played 21 games in the NHL before spending the rest of the season with the Griffins. There were hopes that he could make the next steps in his development this past offseason to earn another shot in the NHL, but was a victim of the new additions in the forward grouping and found himself in Grand Rapids once again this season.

Elmer Soderblom Detroit Red Wings
Elmer Soderblom, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Soderblom started off slow like Kasper did with the Griffins, but likewise has seen his game progress as the season has gone on. He has been able to take advantage of his big frame (6-foot-8) to play a strong offensive game thanks to a strong shot. His playmaking abilities have been more on display this season as well, showcasing strong hockey IQ and passing ability. With the uncertainty of the pending free agents in the organization, Soderblom has an outside chance of earning himself a shot once again in the Red Wings lineup next season as another depth player who can be a net-front presence and cause havoc in the offensive zone with his size.

ETA: 2024-25

D William Wallinder

2023-24 stats (Grand Rapids): 52 GP – 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points

After Yzerman surprised some with his selection of William Wallinder in the second round of the 2020 Draft, Wallinder ended up making his move to North America full-time this season with the Griffins. The surprise by many came in the form of that Wallinder is a raw talent that will need some development and time before making his way to the NHL.

The move to Grand Rapids was a learning curve for Wallinder, as it is for a lot of European players. But he is another player who has seen his game catch up to the game style in North America. With him, Edvinsson and Albert Johansson holding down the fort on the back end for the Griffins, they have created a strong grouping defensively. Another season in Grand Rapids mixed in with more players in the Red Wings lineup heading towards free agency after the 2024-25 season, Wallinder could make the jump to the NHL in the 2025-26 season full-time.

ETA: 2025-26

Plans Could Change

While the Red Wings have a number of prospects in the pipeline that could be pushing for roster spots in the near future, Yzerman could end up doing what he did this last offseason by adding veteran pieces to round out the roster that takes spots from these kids. Red Wings fans have seen in the past with former GM Ken Holland letting prospects play quite a while in Grand Rapids before getting their full-time shot in the NHL. The hope is that at least a few of the top prospects can make decisions tougher on Yzerman when it comes to roster and lineup choices in the not-so-distant future.

*All stats are as of March 17, 2024*

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