Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman always makes it clear that being drafted by an NHL team doesn’t come with a guarantee of future employment. He doesn’t set aside roster spots in anticipation of a rookie’s arrival.
“I don’t sit here and plan on saying I’m gonna give Prospect A or Prospect B a spot on the roster,” Yzerman said. “I’m not going to do that.”
In other words, no prospect is guaranteed a job next season, although Yzerman and the Red Wings are clearly excited about Simon Edvinsson’s potential to join the lineup.
“He’s strong. He can skate really well. He does have a chance — I want to say a real good chance to play in the NHL next year,” Yzerman said. “It’s a bit of an educated guess based on okay, this is what Moritz Seider did in the Swedish League last year. Kind of compare him to that. Can he have a similar impact? He’s a differentplayer than Moritz, really. Both very good, young prospects but there’s a little bit of a difference in the two of them and we’ll see how he does. I’m optimistic.”
Edvinsson headlines Detroit Hockey Now’s Top 10 Red Wings Prospects list heading into the 2022 draft. All three DHN writers (Nate Brown, Bob Duff and myself) submitted their Top 10 list. We assigned point values for each ranking and then added the points from each list to determine our final ranking. Because Brown’s list was slightly different than our final, he wrote a short dissenting opinion at the end of the story.
Our list has five defensemen, four forwards and a goalie. Here it is:
Top 10 Red Wings Prospects
1. Defenseman Simon Edvinsson (No. 6, 2021)
It seems like the Red Wings are as excited about Edvinsson’s potential as they are about Seider’s first NHL season. Edvinsson was a finalist for Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Hockey League. He’s 6-foot-4 and put up 19 points in 44 games playing for Frolunda.
He’s a left-shot defenseman, meaning he would a perfect partner for Moritz Seider. But the more likely scenario would be to play them apart to give Red Wings a dominant defender in two separate pairings.
2. (tie) Right wing Jonathan Berggren (No. 33, 2018)
Berggren set a new Grand Rapids Griffins’ record of 64 points by a rookie. He finished 12th in the American Hockey League scoring race.
The Swedish forward scored 21 goals last season and Yzerman said the organization was “pleased” with his progress. But he never received a call-up last season.
“ I sit here today and I say I’m not gonna pencil Jonatan Berggren into the lineup,” Yzerman said. “But I’m also not going to say that he’s destined to play in GR. Let’s see how the training camp goes. Let’s see how the preseason goes and we’ll make a determination at that point.”
2. (tie) Goalie Sebastian Cossa (No. 15, 2021)
Cossa’s development is on schedule, which means he is still a long way from being NHL-ready. The Red Wings believe the 6-foot-6 netminder can be a difference-maker. But NHL goalies are usually not ready until they are 23 or 24. Cossa is 19.
The expectation is Cossa will play for Grand Rapids for the next couple of seasons as he refines his game. He”s had a strong season in the Western Hockey League. His Edmonton Oil Kings team is in the WHL Championship series against the Seattle Thunderbirds. The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1. In this postseason, Cossa is 13-2 with a 2.07 goals-against average.
In three years of regular-season duty for the Oil Kings, Cossa is 71-16-7. He’s a confident athlete.
4. Left wing Elmer Soderblom (No. 159, 2019)
The 6-foot-8, 249-pound forward scored 21 goals for Frolunda to be the highest-scoring player under age 21 in Sweden’s pro league.
Yzerman said at the end of the season that the Red Wings want to get Soderblom signed and bring him to training camp. Even though Soderblom is big, he’s more of a finesse player than a power forward. He possesses excellent hands and skates well. Soderblom is not a physical player. But the mammoth forward had his share of highlight reel goals this season.
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) October 21, 2021
5. Defenseman Albert Johansson (No. 60, 2019)
One of Johansson’s advantages coming into the next season’s training camp is that he has already played three full seasons in the Swedish Hockey League. He has played 141 games in the SHL.
His efficient play on the blue line helped Frolunda win the SHL playoff championship. We can presume that he would start the season with Grand Rapids. But he could also be considered a potential sleeper to make the Red Wings coming out of training camp. It will depend on who Yzerman acquires this offseason and how sharp Johansson looks in training camp.
6. Defenseman Eemil Viro (No. 70, 2020)
Viro is another one of the superb skaters the Red Wings have added since Yzerman took over. He projects to be a quality transition defenseman. He can accelerate quickly with the puck on his stick. Viro is a responsible, posed competitor.
He produced seven points and was +9 for TPS in the Finland’s top league this past season. Viro had five points in 15 playoff games. He is about 6-foot, 185 pounds.
7. Defenseman William Wallinder (No. 32, 2020)
It was disappointing for Wallinder that he wasn’t picked to play for the Swedish National Junior Team. But after getting some advice from Detroit Red Wings consultant Niklas Kronwall, Wallinder ended up having a strong season for a very good Rogle team.
Playing his first season in the top Swedish league, Wallinder registered 19 points and was named the SHL’s Junior Player of the Years.
He’s a 6-foot-3 defenseman who isn’t timid about carrying the puck into the offensive end. Quality skater.
8. Right wing Theodor Niederbach (No. 51, 2020)
Niederbach has signed to play for Rogle BK next season, which could be an important move for his development. Because Rogle is a strong team Niederbach is going to play in important games throughout the regular-season and playoffs.
He can play both center and wing. Niederbach scored nine goals in limited action for Frolunda last season. He only averaged 10 minutes per game last season.
Detroit has more quality prospects at defense than forward. Hence, it’s important that Niederbach has a strong season for Rogle BK in 2022-23.
9. Left Wing Carter Mazur (No. 70, 2021)
Mazur was named National Collegiate Hockey Conference freshman of the year after registering 14 goals and 38 points in 41 regular-season games for Denver. He was +23.
The Michigan native also helped Denver win the NCAA National Championship. He’s at his best when he’s playing a prickly, high-energy game. He is a feisty competitor with a nose for the net.
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) July 30, 2021
10. Defenseman Shai Buium (No. 36, 2021)
Buium was Mazur’s teammate at Denver. As the season wore on, his role expanded. He was +3 in the NCAA championship game against Minnesota State.
His chief strength is his size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and skating ability. Buium recorded18 points in 39 games as a freshman.
Like Mazur, he will be back at Denver this fall. Would expect both to turn pro after next season.
Dissenting Opinion by Nate Brown
Cossa is absolutely a top tier prospect for Detroit. I ranked Cossa at No. 5 because the four above him are more NHL ready, and dare I say, good enough to skip Grand Rapids altogether. From what Yzerman said about all four during his end of the year press conference, there seems to be an awful lot of confidence in their abilities.
I ranked defenseman Jared McIsaac at No. 9 on my list. He is similar to Niklas Kronwall — a smart defenseman who was unlucky with injuries. If he’s healthy, he’s on one of the bottom two pairings to start out the 2022-23 season. Expect to see him in Detroit at some point during the season.
I view Cross Hanas and Mazur as co-equals at this point in their careers. Hanas has grown as a player and along with James Stefan (who the Red Wings should look at in the middle rounds), carried the Portland Winterhawks last season. Mazur boasts intangibles that you look for beyond the ice, and as he comes along, will be the type of leader you want in the locker room. Winning a National Championship only emboldens that, having the idea of what it takes to get to the next level.
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