2021 TSP: Detroit Red Wings Prospects

2021 Red Wings prospects
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Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 Detroit Red Wings Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

2021 Detroit Red Wings Prospects

After being one of the worst teams of the cap era in 2019-20, the Red Wings showed progress this past season. They were far more competitive as a number of the team’s young players started to make their mark in the league. General manager Steve Yzerman has taken steps to help support that young core this off-season. He acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, a Calder Trophy contender to be the team’s goalie of the present and future. He also picked up Pius Suter, who had a strong rookie season in Chicago and Mitchell Stephens, a 24-year-old forward he is familiar with from his time in Tampa Bay. Yzerman also brought in Nick Leddy, adding a veteran presence to the team’s blue line. The Wings may not be fully ready to compete for a playoff spot in 2022, but they continue to build the foundation for long-term success.

2021 Draft Picks:  Simon EdvinssonSebastian CossaShai Buium, Carter Mazur, Redmond SavageLiam Dower NilssonOscar Plandowski, Pasquale Zito
Graduations: Taro Hirose, Filip Zadina, Evgeny Svechnikov (no QO)

 

Top 2021 Red Wings Prospect: Moritz Seider

Right Defence — Shoots Right
Born April 6th, 2001 — Zell (Mosel), Germany
Height 6’4″ — Weight 207 lbs [192 cm / 94 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1st Round, 6th Overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft

Seider had an outstanding season. Playing for Rogle in the SHL, he put up seven goals and 28 points in 41 games. He also added a goal and five points in 13 playoff games, helping the team to the SHL Final. Seider was named the Best Defenceman and Best Junior in the SHL. He followed that up with an excellent performance at the IIHF Men’s World Championship, putting up five points in 10 games and being named the best defenceman in the tournament.

Skating

Seider pairs excellent size at 6-foot-4 with strong skating ability. Seider has an excellent skating stride. This gives him good speed in both directions, especially given his size. His first few steps and acceleration are also well above-average. Seider has good edgework and makes quick pivots. His agility allows him to move well laterally, both in the offensive and defensive zones. Seider has very good balance. He has added significant muscle to his frame since being drafted. This helps him to win his battles on the boards and in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Seider moves the puck up the ice with good stickhandling and quick skating, as well as the ability to make a strong first pass. He transitions the puck out of his zone and can carry it effectively through the neutral zone. He is even willing to lead the rush at times. By combining his stickhandling and skating Seider can generate effective zone entries. The stickhandling and poise with the puck on his stick are also extremely useful on the power play, as he can control the play and set things up at the point. Seider has good vision and can set up teammates on the rush, as well as in the offensive zone. He uses his lateral movement and quick hands to create passing lanes and set up teammates for scoring chances on the power play.

Seider also has a very good arsenal of point shots. He has the smarts to pick his spots. Seider likes to sneak down from the point, getting off a quick wrist shot with a good release. His wrist shot is powerful and accurate. His slap shot is also very good. He can keep it low and on the net to get rebounds as well as provide his teammates with the opportunity to deflect pucks and screen goalies. His shots should continue to add even more power as he gets stronger. Seider uses his lateral agility to walk the line and create shooting lanes. He also does a good job of pinching in to cut-off zone exits and keep the play alive. Seider can also get his shot off by being the trailer on the rush and taking a drop pass from a teammate.

Defensive Game

Defensively, Moritz Seider plays a physical game, looking to throw a big hit if an opposing forward challenges him down his side of the ice. However, he can get himself out of position looking for those hits and must become more disciplined. While he has really improved his positional play since his draft year, there is still a little more room for improvement. His time in the SHL has certainly helped but he won’t be able to get away with some of the things he does in the defensive zone when he faces tougher competition in the NHL. He will also need to adjust to the smaller ice.

To be clear though, the critiques here are a bit of nitpicking as Seider remains one of the top prospects not only on the Red Wings but in the entire NHL. His issues are small and should be easily fixed with good coaching. In addition, his size and long stick are a natural advantage in cutting down passing and shooting lanes. He is strong on the boards and does a good job clearing the front of the net. Seider is also able to quickly retrieve dump-ins and loose pucks and transition the puck out of the zone and create offence.

Outlook

Seider is one of the top prospects in the world right now and is expected to make the Red Wings out of training camp next year. Of course, like with many young defenders, there will be growing pains and the Wings need to have patience with him. That said the sky is the limit in terms of Seider’s potential and he should become the Wings’ top defender once he reaches his prime.

 

#2 Prospect: Lucas Raymond

Left-Wing — shoots Right
Born March 28th, 2002 — Göteborg, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 170 lbs [180 cm/77 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1st Round, 4th Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft

For the second straight year, Raymond spent the bulk of the season with Frolunda in the SHL. He improved his numbers, putting up six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 34 games. Raymond also added two goals and five points in five games playing for Sweden at the World Juniors.

Skating

Raymond is a fantastic skater. He has an excellent stride which leads to outstanding speed and fantastic acceleration. This is combined with excellent edgework and agility. He is extremely dangerous on the rush. His ability to change speeds as well as to quickly change directions combines to make him very hard to defend, especially in one-on-one situations. Raymond has a low centre of gravity which makes him hard to knock off the puck and allows him to fight through checks. He should continue to improve in this area as he adds muscle to his frame.

Offensive Game

Raymond combines his excellent skating ability with very good stickhandling. He can make plays at top speed. He has the passing skill and vision to set up teammates on the rush as well as the poise to quarterback the play on the power play. Raymond controls the puck on the half boards and creates scoring opportunities. He reads the play extremely well, almost always making the smart pass. He sees opportunities as they develop and is good at anticipating when a teammate will be open for a scoring chance.

Raymond also has a good wrist shot and a quick release. His quick hands allow him to change the angle on his shot and fool goaltenders. What is scary is that his shot may get even harder as he matures and adds muscle. Raymond can create offensive opportunities in a variety of ways. His stickhandling skills and speed allow him to beat defenders wide and cut to the net. When they back off to defend against him, he can take advantage of the bigger passing lanes or use the defender as a screen and shoot the puck on the net. Raymond will need to put on muscle before he is NHL ready but his offensive skills make him a dynamic threat.

Defensive Game

Raymond is willing to work in all three zones. He supports the defence down low and works to help his teammates in defending against the cycle game. However, his lack of size and strength can sometimes be exposed in his own end, especially in the SHL where he faces grown men. His positioning and effort level are there though, so it is hoped that his defensive game will improve as he matures physically.

Projection and Comparison

Raymond has the skills necessary to be a first-line winger in the NHL but will need some time. He recently signed his ELC with the Red Wings and will head to training camp looking to make the team. However, another season in the AHL or SHL would help him to continue to mature and to produce while playing a high level of competition. He will need to add muscle to be able to withstand the rigours of the NHL game. There is plenty of time for that though.

 

#3 Prospect: Simon Edvinsson

The Red Wings drafted Edvinsson with the 6th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Edvinsson. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#4 Prospect: Jonatan Berggren

Right Wing/Centre — shoots Left
Born July 16th, 2000 — Uppsala, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 183 lbs [180 cm/83 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd Round, #33 Overall at the 2018 NHL Draft

After battling injuries the past two seasons, Berggren was finally able to put together a healthy campaign this year. He was excellent for Skelleftea in the SHL, putting up 12 goals and 33 assists for 45 points in 49 games. Unfortunately, he struggled in the playoffs with just four assists in 12 games. Berggren also played for the Swedish National Team on the European Hockey Tour and in other exhibitions. He put up one goal and eight points in 13 games.

Skating

Berggren is an outstanding skater. He is very fast and reaches top speed in just a few strides. This can create breakaways and other odd-man rushes. He is dangerous taking a defender wide on the rush. He also gets in quickly on the forecheck. Berggren has a low centre of gravity and he is difficult to move off the puck as a result. Despite his size, he is effective in board battles and in front of the net. His agility and edgework are also strong. Berggren can beat defenders with quick movements and cuts.

Offensive Game

Berggren may be small, but he plays a heavy game. He is a torpedo on the forecheck, getting in quickly on opposing defenders and forcing them to turn the puck over. He also battles hard on the boards and gets to the front of the net and causes havoc. Berggren is not afraid to take a hit to make a play, or to take abuse in front of the net. He scores most of his goals in tight to the net. He has the soft hands to finish on breakaways that he generates with his speed. Berggren also has the hand-eye coordination and quickness to pounce on rebounds. However, Berggren needs to work on his shot. From further out, his wrist shot lacks power and needs a quicker release.

Berggren is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. When he creates turnovers on the forecheck, he is quick to move the puck to an open linemate. He is also good at finding open players on the rush. Berggren has good vision. He anticipates the play and makes smart passes with the puck.

Defensive Game

Berggren’s speed and hockey IQ are assets in the defensive zone. He is committed to playing in his own end and supporting the defence with backpressure. He also works to cut down passing lanes with his quickness and strong positioning. His ability to read the play aids Berggren in creating turnovers and quickly transitioning to offence. However, Berggren’s size starts to become an issue in the defensive end. He can be overpowered by bigger forwards when working to contain the cycle.

Outlook

Berggren is under contract with the Red Wings and will be around for training camp. Following his strong season in Sweden, he will look to take a spot on the main club. As one of the Wings top forward prospects though, it may make sense to start him in the AHL, allowing him to play big minutes and develop. That said, it won’t be long before Berggren is pushing for a middle-six role with Detroit.  His future is likely on the wing as he’s spent most of his time at that position since moving up to the SHL and up from the junior leagues.

 

#5 Prospect: Sebastian Cossa

The Red Wings drafted Cossa with the 15th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Cossa. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#6 Prospect: Joe Veleno

Centre — shoots Left
Born January 13th, 2000 — Kirkland, Quebec
Height 6’1″ — Weight 195 lbs [185 cm / 88 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1st round, #30 Overall at the 2018 NHL Draft

With the NHL Season delayed, Veleno went to Sweden. He put up 11 goals and 20 points in 46 games for Malmo before returning to North America. Veleno played five NHL games and scored his first NHL goal. He also put up three points in four games in the NHL with Grand Rapids.

Skating

Veleno has tremendous speed and outstanding acceleration. His skating skill truly gave him a leg up on the older competition and earned him an exceptional player status as a 15-year-old in the QMJHL. He is silky smooth on his skates. Veleno has the ability to take a defender wide and cut to the net. He also has the agility and edgework to beat a defender in a one-on-one situation off the rush. Veleno is strong on the puck and works well down low and in the cycle game. In recent years, he has shown increased core strength, though that will be tested playing against men at the pro level.

Offensive Game

Veleno is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He has great vision, hockey sense, and passing skills. Veleno reads the play well and anticipates where his teammates will be. He uses his speed and agility to open up passing lanes. He also has the ability to put the puck through tight spaces, and make tape-to-tape passes to set up linemates in good scoring areas. Veleno has very good hockey sense and seems to always make the right play with the puck on his stick.

While his instinct is still to be a playmaker first, Veleno emerged as a goal scorer this past year. Added power in his wrist shot and a more deceptive release saw him greatly increase his goal totals. He also shows off the hands needed to beat a goaltender in tight to the net. Veleno is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice, both with and without the puck. His determination and willingness to fight for position in front of the net and control the game down low have been key catalysts in taking his game to the next level.

Defensive Game

Veleno is also gritty and not afraid to get involved in battles on the boards at both ends of the ice. He is good on the back check and works hard in his own end. His compete level is very high. He could use a bit of work on his positioning, but this is not a major concern. Overall his defensive game is very strong at the junior level. He uses his body effectively and is willing to block shots. When a turnover is created, he transitions quickly to offence.

Outlook

Veleno should be competing for a spot on the roster in training camp. His development is also key to the Red Wings future at centre. It might may sense for him to play and develop at the AHL level for another season. The Red Wings have long been known as an organization that would rather see their prospects have too much time in the AHL instead of not enough. Playing in Grand Rapids Veleno will get to play against the opponent’s top line and get big minutes in all situations. His future is as a matchup centre at the NHL level.

 

#7 Prospect: Theodor Niederbach

Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 25th, 2002 — Bjasta, Sweden
Height 5’11″ — Weight 172 lbs [180 cm/78 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd Round, #51 overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft

Niederbach bounced around a bit last season. He was dominant in the Swedish Under-20 league, putting up 13 goals and 35 points in just 19 games. Given that performance, he was given the opportunity to play against men. He played 20 games for Frolunda in the SHL, putting up three goals and five points. He also played 15 games for Modo in the Allsvenskan, adding three goals and nine points. At the World Juniors, Niederbach scored two goals in five games.

Skating

As more time passes since Niederbach’s knee injury, his skating continues to improve. He has really improved over the last two years and his speed and acceleration are now assets. While not a speedster, he is well above average and more than keeps up with the play. The best part of Niederbach’s skating is his edgework and agility. His turns are smooth and he is able to make cuts to get away from defenders. He also has really good crossovers, that allow him to gain speed and power as he comes out of his turns. Niederbach’s lower body strength and balance are also average. He is not overmatched in board battles and also is strong enough on the puck. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement here as he continues to add muscle to his frame.

Offensive Game

Niederbach is an excellent playmaker. He keeps his head up when he has the puck and sees the ice extremely well. He is a good stickhandler and protects the puck well, allowing his teammates the opportunity to get open. When they do, Niederbach can snap a quick pass through a tight lane. He can also make a saucer pass to a teammate’s tape to create a scoring chance. Niederbach can control the play and speeds it up or slows it down as needed. His quick hands and good lateral mobility allow Niederbach to make a quick move and create space when he needs it.

Niederbach also has a decent wrist shot and good release. It has decent power, but it is very accurate. His ability to change the angle just prior to shooting also helps him to confuse goaltenders. Niederbach can get open without the puck and also has a good one-timer. However, he plays a bit of a perimeter game. Niederbach does not really play in the dirty areas of the ice and could do more to get to the front of the net with and without the puck. He also could engage in battles for loose pucks and in grinding more in the corners. This may come as he adds muscle to his frame.

Defensive Game

Niederbach’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He needs to be more engaged physically when supporting the defence in his own end. He has a tendency to reach for pucks a bit too much and try to stick check the opposition rather than engaging in battles for loose pucks and in containment against the cycle. His positioning is generally pretty good though, and he does a good job of getting into passing lanes and creating turnovers. Once they are created, he can transition up the ice. Niederbach can also improve in the face-off circle.

Projection and Comparison

Niederbach could become a two-way forward if he develops properly. He will need to improve his defensive game though. He also can continue to improve his skating as he gains more confidence in his knee. Niederbach has the versatility to play both centre and on the wing. His ability to play in the middle at the next level will be based on his skating improvements as well as improvements in his defensive game. Expect Niederbach to spend next season in the SHL. A full season against men in Sweden’s top men’s league would be good for the teenager’s development.

 

#8 Prospect: William Wallinder

Defence — shoots Left
Born July 28th, 2002 — Solleftea, Sweden
Height 6’4″ — Weight 192 lbs [193 cm/87 kg]
Drafted by the Red Wings in the 2nd Round, #32 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft

Wallinder put up six points in just four games in the J20 league last season. Clearly ready for a new challenge, he moved up to the Allsvenskan, playing 43 games with Modo. He put up a goal and five assists for six points.

Skating

Wallinder has excellent size, as he is already 6-foot-4 and may still be growing. He is a very good skater, especially for his size. While he is not a burner, his speed in both directions is good and his stride is powerful. He has a good first step and very good acceleration as well. Wallinder is strong on his skates and with good balance. He uses his size to win battles on the boards and in front of the net. He is also extremely agile and has good pivots and edgework. This helps him to cover a lot of ice.

Offensive Game

Wallinder prefers to use his wrist shot instead of his slap shot. It is powerful and has a good release. He sneaks down from the point to the top of the circles to get his shot off. He can get it through traffic and on the net. When Wallinder uses his slap shot, it is very powerful. He could stand to work on the accuracy though. Wallinder is also able to walk the line and create shooting lanes thanks to his strong agility and lateral movement. Wallinder is also a good passer. He can quarterback the play from the point, with strong passing skills. He has good vision and finds the passing lanes.

Wallinder’s passing skills also help him in starting the transition game. He can make a good first pass up the ice to start the rush. Wallinder has soft hands for a big man. He can retrieve loose pucks, skate away from forecheckers and start the rush. Wallinder is willing to lead the rush and can create offensive chances. He is also willing to join as a trailer, again making effective use of his wrist shot. His quick hands can change the angle on his shot and fool goaltenders. Wallinder is poised with the puck on his stick he doesn’t overreact to pressure. However, he doesn’t always make smart plays with the puck. Sometimes he holds onto it too long instead of moving it quicker.

Defensive Game

Wallinder’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He uses his strong skating to maintain good gap control and is tough to beat one-on-one. He creates turnovers with his active stick and can quickly start the transition the other way. Wallinder is willing to play physical. If an attacker tries to beat him on the boards, he can throw a big hit. He is physical on the boards and in front of the net. Wallinder needs to work on his defensive zone coverage though. He can sometimes puck watch when he is away from the play, leaving his man open for a pass from a teammate. Some solid coaching could help him in that area.

Projection and Comparison

Already possessing excellent size and still growing, Wallinder has the prototypical body for an NHL defender. When you add in his strong skating, and his offensive skill, his potential is immense. However, his game is very raw, and he needs some coaching with the puck on his stick as well as defending away from the play. Wallinder needs some development time before he is ready to take the next step. He has been traded to Rogle and should play with them in the SHL next year.

 

#9 Prospect: Eemil Viro

Defence — shoots Left
Born April 3rd, 2002 — Vantaa, Finland
Height 6’0″ — Weight 165 lbs [183 cm / 75 kg]
Drafted by the Red Wings in the 3rd round, 70th Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft

Viro had a strong season playing for TPS Turko and competing against men in the SM Liiga. He put up four goals and 14 points in 53 games. Viro also added three goals and an assist in 12 playoff games. Viro played for Finland at the World Juniors, winning a bronze medal. Viro had two assists in the tournament.

Skating

Viro is an excellent skater. He has very good speed in both directions. His first step and acceleration are also excellent. The ability to get around the ice quickly helps Viro to play a two-way game. He can join the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still get back defensively. Viro also has outstanding edgework and agility. His lateral mobility is very good, helping him to maintain good gap control and keep attackers in front of him. It can also be used to walk the line in the offensive zone. Viro has excellent pivots, allowing him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He needs work on his strength though. Added core muscle will help him to maintain balance and be stronger in battles for loose pucks and clearing the front of the net.

Offensive Game

Viro’s offensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He has strong puckhandling skills which he pairs with his excellent skating ability to retrieve pucks in the defensive zone and skate them past forecheckers and out of danger. He can also lead the rush through the neutral zone. Viro is a solid passer, able to make passes to start the transition or set up plays in the offensive zone. He doesn’t always make the best decisions though. Sometimes he needs to take the safer and easier play instead of trying to thread the puck through too tight of a window.

Viro can also use some work on his slap shot. It lacks power right now. With added upper body strength it might come, but right now it is not an effective weapon. As a result, Viro is more likely to try and sneak in from the point and let go a wrist shot from the top of the circles. His wrist shot is accurate and he has a decent release. Viro tries to keep his shots low, giving his teammates the opportunity for deflections and rebounds.

Defensive Game

Viro uses his skating ability to play a strong defensive game. He maintains good gap control and is tough to beat in one-on-one situations. When playing against the rush, he forces his man to the outside and into poor shooting situations. His quick stick is also able to knock the puck away from an opponent, creating a turnover. Viro gets the puck out of his zone quickly, transitioning effectively to offence. He needs to get stronger though to work along the boards and to be more effective in containing the cycle game and clearing the front of the net.

Projection and Comparison

Viro could develop into a top-four defenceman with time. He will need to add muscle onto his frame, especially before he is able to compete on the smaller North American ice at the pro level. However, with his skating ability and defensive instincts, he could play important minutes if he develops other aspects of his game. His offensive ability is somewhat limited and he may never be a power-play quarterback at the NHL level, however, he may bring some level of puck-moving and offensive ability at five-on-five. He should be back in Finland, spending another season with TPS Turku before potentially coming over to the AHL in 2022-23.

 

#10 Prospect: Jared McIsaac

Defence — shoots Left
Born March 27th, 2000 — Truro, Nova Scotia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 195 lbs [185 cm / 88 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, in the 2nd Round, 30th Overall, in the 2018 NHL Draft

McIsaac just can’t seem to stay healthy. He suffered another shoulder injury last season and was limited to just 11 games, 1 in Finland and 10 in the AHL in his first season as a professional.

Skating

McIsaac is an outstanding skater. He has very good mobility, with top-notch speed and acceleration in both directions. This allows him to lead the rush out of his own end, or to make pinches at the blue line and still recover defensively. Quick feet, good agility, edgework, and pivots allow McIsaac to cover 360 degrees of ice. He transitions quickly from offence to defence, and vice versa. His strong skating ability makes him very difficult to beat on the rush. McIsaac has good strength in his lower body. This gives him excellent power and balance. It helps him to win battles in front of the net, and along the boards. He is also strong on the puck.

Offensive Game

McIsaac can carry the puck out of his own zone and lead the rush. He combines excellent puck handling skills with his good skating and can carry the puck end-to-end to create a scoring chance. He also has the vision and skills to make a strong first pass and start the transition game that way. His good passing skills transition to his play at the point. He has the poise to handle the puck and the patience to make plays. His agility allows McIsaac to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. McIsaac has the passing skill and vision to set up scoring opportunities for his teammates.

McIsaac has a strong shot in addition to the ability to quarterback the power play. He has a good wrist shot with a quick release. His slap shot may not be an absolute bomb, but it is still above average. He understands how to get it on the net, even with traffic in front. McIsaac keeps his shot low and creates opportunities for tip-ins and rebounds.  The skill is clearly there, and it is high-end. McIsaac had issues with consistency earlier in his junior career but seemed to solve that as time went on.

Defensive Game

McIsaac’s strong skating ability helps him to be an excellent two-way defender. He is very difficult to beat one-on-one. McIsaac can also play a physical game in the corners and in front of the net. However, in order to continue to play this type of game at the next level, McIsaac must get stronger. He is also a smart player, with a strong positional game and good anticipation. McIsaac cuts down passing lanes with an active stick. When a turnover is created, he transitions quickly to offence.

Outlook

McIsaac needs to stay healthy and on the ice in order to move forward. The time lost to the two significant shoulder injuries after his draft year has not done him any favours. When he plays, he shows great potential but he simply needs time on the ice at this point. Expect him to be in Grand Rapids where he can play big minutes and in all situations for the Griffins.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Alex Cotton

Defence — shoots Right
Born May 12th, 2001 — Langley, British Columbia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 175 lbs [188 cm/79 kg]
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 5th Round, #132 Overall in the 2020 NHL Draft

Despite the shortened season, Cotton had another strong year with Lethbridge. He put up seven goals and 26 points in just 24 games in the WHL.

Skating

Cotton’s skating could use some work. He has very good speed and acceleration moving forwards, as well as a good first step. However, he could stand to improve his backwards skating. His feet are a little bit static as well, as he needs improvement in his lateral agility. Cotton loses speed through his turns and can improve his edgework as well. He also could work on his lower body strength, which would help him to be better on the boards and improve his balance.

Offensive Game

Cotton is a smart player who sees the ice very well and can quarterback the power play. He has poise with the puck on his stick and anticipates where his teammates are moving. A quick move with his stick can create a passing lane and help him find a teammate. He also can fake a shot to open up those passing lanes. Cotton keeps his feet moving in the offensive zone and this helps him to create space and opportunities. His passing ability is also an asset in his own end, as he moves the puck up the ice quickly and starts the transition game. He can also avoid forecheckers with his skating and stickhandling and get the puck out of his end.

Cotton can score from the point as well. He has a good, but not great, slapshot and one-timer. As he gets stronger, it may be even more powerful. He really excels with his wrist shot though. It is powerful and accurate. He has the ability to get it off very quickly and get it on the net. Cotton is dangerous when he sneaks down from the point and lets his shot go from the top of the circles. He is also willing to sneak in further taking a backdoor pass and one-timing it on the net. He is willing to join the rush and drive the net as well.

Defensive Game

Cotton’s defensive game is still a bit of a work in progress. Difficulties with his lateral movement and his strength on his skates hurt him in the defensive end of the ice. He has trouble maintaining proper gap control and his feet make him vulnerable when defending the rush, or in working one-on-one with quick and shifty forwards. He also has some trouble battling in the corners and in front of the net. His hockey intelligence is good though, and he has a good stick for breaking up passing lanes and for playing away from the puck. His ability to retrieve loose pucks and move them quickly up the ice helps to limit zone time and can help him in his own zone.

Projection and Comparison

Cotton has offensive skills and the hockey IQ that many teams are looking for in a puck-moving defenceman. However, he remains a bit of a project going forward. He will need time to work on his skating and his defensive game. Cotton could stand to improve his strength, especially in his lower body, as this will make him better in the corners and give him better balance. Expect to see him in Grand Rapids this season.

 

Other 2021 Detroit Red Wings Prospects To Watch

Years of rebuilding means that the Red Wings have one of the deeper prospect groups in the NHL. There are a number of prospects who fell just outside the top ten but are still worth keeping an eye on. Goaltenders Jan Bednar, Kaden Fulcher, Jesper Eliasson, and Filip Larsson are also in the system and will compete at one of the hardest positions to scout and predict. Goalies truly are voodoo.

The Defence group is strong, as seen in the top 10 prospects. There is even more in the system though, with Donovan Sebrango, Albert Johansson, Seth Barton, Kasper Kotkansalo, and Antti Tuomisto worth watching.

At forward, the Red Wings will keep their eyes on Albin Grewe, Sam Stange, Ethan Phillips, Ryan O’Reilly, Carter Mazur, Robert Mastrosimone, Cross Hanas, and Chase Pearson.

 

2021 Detroit Red Wings Prospects Main Photo:

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 18: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to pass around David Kampf #64 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at the United Center on September 18, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)