The Detroit Red Wings prospects are going to be key to their turnaround. Detroit finished with a league-worst 17-49-5 record and 39 points. The Red Wings had a mix of aging players and younger pros that lacked experience.
There have been glimpses of hope with players like Filip Zadina scoring eight goals in 28 games with the club. German defenceman Moritiz Seider showed a great mix of skill and physical play at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships. Joe Veleno and Gustav Lindstrom also played for their respective national teams at the World Juniors.
Younger players need reps and ice time if they want to make improvements. Many younger players do this via the American Hockey League, but the start of that season will be delayed at least until December. General manager Steve Yzerman has decided to loan some of their younger European-based players to teams on the continent, This is a smart play to help the growth of the Detroit Red Wings prospects.
Detroit Red Wings Prospects Loaned to Europe
Other teams in the league have loaned their European players to teams in their home country. However, Detroit seemed to be one of the first kicking around the idea. The Wings loaned Seider to his old team Adler Manheim in Germany. Zadina is playing for HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech league.
Both did well in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins as Seider got two goals and added 20 assists for 22 points in 49 games. He totaled six points in seven games at the World Juniors and showed physical edge.
Zadina scored nine goals in 21 games with the Griffins and played well for the big club. The sixth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft is looking to make the team full-time this season.
Lindstrom got loaned to Almtuna of Allsvenskan in Sweden’s second-highest division. He is a stay-at-home defeceman and a righthanded shot. The young Swed had one assist and 14 penalty minutes in 16 games with the big club. He spent most of the season with Grand Rapids as got five assists in 45 games.
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Time to Develop
The AHL is a fan-driven league that makes little in the way of television revenue. They will likely delay the start of the league if fans can’t come to the arenas in some form. Some teams like the Vegas Golden Knights affiliate are owned by the club and can take on the loss of no gate revenue. However, some AHL teams are owned independent of the parent club and need fans a la the Utica Comets.
The uncertainty surrounding the AHL start will cost team’s precious time to develop their prospects. Things are more difficult with the United States and Canadian border being closed to non-essesntial traffic due to COVID-19. There’s uncertainty also surrounding the start of major junior and NCAA hockey also with the current health climate.
Europe seems to have a better hold on keeping infection numbers down. Those leagues will start in the next couple of months. This will give them extra ice time and a chance to be ready when training camp starts in November. All of these players have clauses in the loan deal that will allow them to come to North America when camp starts.
What it Means for the Future
All three will benefit from the added ice time in competitive games. The trio are familiar with these leagues that are based in their respective home countries. Detroit hasn’t played since early March and the Griffins lost out on a Calder Cup run. A long run in the playoffs would have given the youngsters valuable time in a pressure environment.
Detroit will need contributions from these players if it wants to dig its way out of the cellar. This extra time is crucial for a team trying to reclaim its past success.