19 Notions - Deadline Edition

19 Notions Deadline Edition
By Jeff Watters

April 19, 2021

19 Notions is a new monthly series I’m rolling out here on Red Wings Pipeline. These posts will provide updates, speculation, and general feelings towards the state of the Red Wings’ system and its prospects. You can check out last month’s edition of 19 Notions here.

Today we celebrate two years of Steve Yzerman — or critique the job he’s done so far

The Red Wings may not have come a long way at the NHL level, but the groundwork is being laid. We’ve all accepted this is going to take time.

I know — or should I say, hope — that most Wings fans are on the same page in terms of how Yzerman should be approaching this rebuild: draft, develop, and stay far, far away from long-term contracts in free agency. 

Yzerman has done a fantastic job. He really has. 

The Red Wings have 12 picks in the upcoming July draft, including 5 in the first 2 rounds. There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty with the class of ’21, but I think that uncertainty is accompanied by a ton of excitement as well. 

I look at the plethora of mid-round picks Steve Yzerman has accumulated, and I can’t help but wonder how many top 50 talents may fall to the 3rd and 4th rounds. Whether it’s due to limited exposure or the inability of some scouting departments to adapt to video scouting, talent is going to slip this year.

It’ll be up to the Red Wings to take advantage. There’s power in numbers, and Steve Yzerman will have the option to move up, trade back, or deal a pick for a young NHL player ahead of the expansion draft.

The past two seasons have been pretty brutal at the NHL level. But this summer could be a fun one.

19 Notions

1. Lucas Raymond signs

The Wings’ top prospect inked his entry-level deal on Friday. Exciting times! Raymond hasn’t played since mid-February but has been practicing for a few weeks now. 

So where does Raymond play next season? Does he stay in the SHL for one more year? Make the transition to North America?

With his contract starting next season, one thing we do know is he won’t be making a late-season appearance in Detroit or Grand Rapids this year.

2. Berggren next?

I’d expect Jonatan Berggren to sign soon as well. The Red Wings own Berggren’s rights through 2021-22, but I anticipate the Red Wings locking him up as soon as Skellefteå’s season comes to an end — which could be soon. More on that later…

3. Detroit adds a few mid-round picks leading up to the trade deadline.

Though I was somewhat surprised to see Luke Glendening and Jonathan Bernier stay put in Detroit, it’s hard to be displeased with the job Steve Yzerman did leading up to the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline.

The return for Patrik Nemeth is exactly what I would’ve expected. A 4th round pick for a bottom pairing defensive defenseman seemed like decent value in this year’s market.

The 4th rounder from the Lightning for facilitating the David Savard trade was an impressive bit of work. By taking on just 25% of Savard’s $4.25 million salary and “trading” Brian Lashoff to Tampa, the Wings essentially bought a 4th round pick for about $787,500 in cap space and a prorated amount of less than $200,000 in real dollars (some quick math based on capfriendly.com figures).

Brian Lashoff has been “loaned” to Grand Rapids, so it’s likely he never plays a game in the Lightning organization. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him sign back with the Griffins.

Brain Lashoff Grand Rapids Griffins
Brian Lashoff was dealt to Tampa Bay but will remain in Grand Rapids for the rest of the season. | Photo: Nicolas Carrillo

I did think Jon Merrill would garner more interest and bring back more than a 5th round pick and some AHL depth, but at the end of the day, he brought back almost the same exact value as Nemeth. 

The late 4th (2022) from Colorado will be in the same range as the early 5th (2021) that originally belonged to the Sens. Was it a bit underwhelming? Yeah, I thought a 3rd for Merrill would’ve been fair. 

4. Steve Yzerman does it again: Mantha shipped out

You didn’t think I would gloss over this one, did you?


I think I said it half a dozen times when I first saw the report from Kevin Weekes.

Anthony Mantha traded to Capitals

As details of the entire scope of the deal trickled in, I chuckled to myself. Only Steve Yzerman could extract maximum value for Anthony Mantha in a year Mantha has looked like a shell of himself.

There’d always been speculation that Mantha didn’t fit the timeline, wasn’t one of Yzerman’s guys, etc., but I really didn’t see a move like this happening before a) the offseason — when teams would have some more financial flexibility or b) Mantha restored some of his value.

To be able to acquire a similarly impactful winger in Jakub Vrána — who’s a year and a half younger — while also netting a 1st and 2nd round pick…wow. 

We all thought that trading Mantha would push back the timeline of the rebuild a year or two. The prospects and picks acquired would take years to develop and contribute at the NHL level, right? 

Well, Vrána essentially replaces Mantha — today. He’s a talented, young, established NHLer who’s had an almost identical career arc to Mantha in terms of his yearly production. In fact, per EvolvingHockey, Vrána’s 1.31 goals/60 and 2.72 points/60 top Mantha’s 1.13 and 2.32, respectively. 

So, Yzerman plugs Vrána into the Mantha-sized hole in the Wings’ top-6 and also comes away with a 1st and a 2nd. Yes, the Red Wings had to take on Richard Pánik’s two remaining years and $2.75 million AAV to make the dollars work, but that’s the beauty of cap space, my friends. 

Hell of a trade.

5. Adding Washington’s 1st round pick to the pipeline

Just a quick thought on that 1st round pick. 

At first glance, it’s easy to undervalue a 2021 first-rounder. Sure, the top of the 2022 draft is much, much stronger than the top of the 2021 draft. However, we’re talking about a pick that’s likely going to fall in the 23-32 range. I think there’s a real opportunity to snag a very talented player at this spot this season. A guy who, in a normal year, may have been ticketed to go 10 spots higher. 

Consider OHL guys like Francesco Pinelli, Brennan Othmann, and Mason McTavish. They’ve all been playing in Europe this season. Håkan Andersson and the Wings’ European scouts are among the best in the business and are going to have even more talent to draw from. 

This is ultimately just positive thinking, but a lot of weaker scouting departments could be exposed this year. Let’s hope the Wings can take advantage.

6. Trade Deadline Recap

All told, Yzerman traded:

  • Anthony Mantha (3yrs, $5.7 million AAV)
  • Patrik Nemeth (pending UFA)
  • Jon Merrill (pending UFA)
  • Brian Lashoff (pending UFA)

While acquiring:

  • Jakub Vrána (pending RFA)
  • Richard Pánik (2 yrs, $2.75 million AAV)
  • 2021 1st round pick (WSH)
  • 2022 2nd round pick (WSH)
  • 2021 4th round pick (TB)
  • 2022 4th round pick (COL)
  • 2021 5th round pick (OTT)
  • Hayden Verbeek (RFA)

Steve Yzerman, man.

7. How the Pánik acquisition may affect expansion draft considerations

Not lost in all this excitement is how Richard Pánik may — or may not — shake up the Red Wings’ expansion draft plans. 

Last month, I examined the possibility the Red Wings could lose one of their older prospects to Seattle this summer. In this discussion, I noted that the Wings would have to expose Frans Nielsen and Vladislav Namestnikov as their two forwards who meet the exposure requirements.

With the acquisition of Pánik, Steve Yzerman now has the option to protect Namestnikov if he chooses to do so. With Adam Erne’s recent play, you’d have to think he’ll be protected. That could leave Givani Smith and Evgeny Svechnikov as the odd men out.

Adam Erne Detroit Red Wings
Has Adam Erne done enough to secure a spot on the Red Wings’ protected list? | Photo: Gregg Forwerck, NHL, Getty Images

Of course, as I’ve said before, a lot can still change when it comes to how protected lists will look around the NHL come the expansion draft. You better believe Steve Yzerman will be exploring every option to nab a young player from a team who’s struggling to protect him.

8. Cholowski and Lindstrom auditioning for a spot on Detroit’s protected list

With the departures of Merrill and Nemeth, Dennis Cholowski and Gus Lindstrom have been getting some extended looks. There’s still lots of competition on the Wings backend, and Jeff Blashill will not be serving up minutes on a platter, so it’ll be interesting to see how the final ten games play out for these two.

I don’t know. I still can’t see how Lindstrom would be considered for the Wings’ protected list, but at the same time, Cholowski hasn’t done much to impress since being called up. We can only talk about his upside for long before recognizing this may be who he is.

Anyway, it looks like it’s down to Lindstrom and Cholowski for that last spot. Unless…

9. Could Steve Yzerman be targeting another defenseman?

I have a theory and it’s concerning the handling of Dennis Cholowski this season. 

This seemed like the perfect year to leave Cholowski in Grand Rapids, let him put together a full season — by this year’s standards — and have him come into camp next year primed to seize a full-time job for good. 

Hasn’t exactly worked out that way, has it? 

I think it’s clear Yzerman isn’t convinced Cholowski is a part of the future and he wanted to give him every opportunity to prove himself ahead of the expansion draft.

If Cholowski looks good in Detroit? Great, protect him. If not? Yzerman can target a defenseman that another team can’t protect. Maybe Ryan Graves (COL)? Vince Dunn (STL)? Eric Cernak or Cal Foote (TB) are both righties, but I think Yzerman could overlook that if they become available.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned since Yzerman took over in 2019, it’s that he really values roster flexibility. If he’s able to find an upgrade on the backend at a reasonable price, that player would be worth protecting over Cholowski (and Lindstrom). 

10. Seider moves on to the semi-finals

Lucas Raymond, Theodor Niederbach, and Elmer Söderblom all saw their seasons come to an end last week as Frölunda was steamrolled by Rögle in the quarter-finals of the SHL playoffs. Rögle swept the best-of-7 series, outscoring Frölunda 20-3. Yikes.

Moritz Seider skates with puck for Rogle
Moritz Seider could be playing into mid-May if Rögle can reach the SHL finals. | Photo: Petter Arvidson

Raymond, of course, hasn’t played since mid-February, so it’ll be a long offseason for him. Söderblom was injured in the very first game of the “eighth-finals” — the round before the quarters — on April 5th, and hasn’t played since.

11. Johansson’s season over as well

Albert Johansson is also done for the year as Färjestad was swept by #1 seed Växjö in the quarterfinals. 

All indications are Johansson will be making his way over to North America next season. As I speculated earlier, I think the left side of the Wings’ backend could look dramatically different in 2021-22. 

Do I think it’s likely Johansson makes the team out of camp? No. It’s doubtful the Wings would break camp with two rookies on the blueline.

But, I seem to remember a 20-year-old Dennis Cholowski unexpectedly cracking the lineup in 2018.

Just sayin’.

12. Johansson named to Sweden’s preliminary roster for World Championships

For the second time this season, it looks like Johansson will be named to the Swedish national team. In February, Johansson participated in the Beijer Games — a four-team tournament held annually in Sweden. 

Yes, this is just the preliminary roster, but there’s a very good chance Johansson makes the cut.

Sweden’s camp runs from April 19-23, and the Worlds begin on May 21st.

13. Prospects in SHL coming to North America this season?

I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one.

As Steve Yzerman mentioned in his trade deadline presser (about 16 minutes in), visa issues may prevent any European prospects from making their way over before the end of the 2021 season. 

In a normal year, Johansson and Jonatan Berggren would be good candidates to join the Griffins — though Johansson will now be preparing for the World Championships.

Seider is likely in the midst of a long playoff run with Rögle, and I would much rather see him win a championship in Sweden than join the Red Wings for a couple of games down the stretch.

Jonatan Berggren’s season could be over today as well. Could he join Johansson at the Worlds if Skellefteå is eliminated from the playoffs? Or maybe, Berggren is able to get a visa and join the Griffins in a few weeks. Time will tell.

14. Joe Veleno to debut this season?

Veleno was assigned to the Red Wings’ taxi squad over the weekend. He’s been back in North America since his Malmö Redhawks were swept by Färjestad in the SHL playoffs on April 7th.

Veleno has been sidelined with a mild concussion since March 29th and hadn’t played in either of the Redhawks’ playoff games. His quarantine period has allowed him to get some extra rest, so hopefully, he’ll be in game shape relatively soon.

I’m excited to see what Joe can do in the NHL. With the larger ice in Sweden, I found that he often appeared to misjudge how much ice he had to work with. This led to some questionable decisions with the puck. I’ll be curious to see how he reverts back to the North American-style game. 

15. Jared McIsaac nearing a return

McIsaac skated in warmups for the Griffins on Saturday but didn’t dress. I’m hoping he gets into a game soon with less than a month to go in the AHL season.

I know it’s too early to look ahead to next season, but a solid, healthy 2021-22 would be so huge for McIsaac and the Red Wings. He’s often forgotten about, but McIsaac is still just 21 years old.

16. Sebrango to stay in the AHL

With another lockdown in the province of Ontario, it’s looking more and more like a lost season for the OHL. That means Donovan Sebrango will be sticking around in Grand Rapids for a little longer. 

Donovan Sebrango fighting
Donovan Sebrango is not afraid to chuck knuckles. | Photo: Todd Reicher/IceHogs

Sebrango has just one assist in 17 games, but has looked very good as a 19-year-old in the AHL. He’s been very sound defensively and has been making good reads in all three zones. Sebrango is such a good skater, and when you combine that skating with good positioning and a very effective stick, you’ve got yourself a reliable blueliner. 

I also love the grit. He’s not afraid to mix things up and certainly won’t hesitate to drop the gloves. The arrow’s pointing up for Sebrango. I’m a fan.

17. Red Wings sign two to amateur tryouts, one more to an entry-level deal

The Wings signed Albin Grewe (3rd round, 2019) and Patrick Holway (6th round, 2015) to amateur tryouts late last month. Grewe, who was set to join the Saginaw Spirit (OHL)  this season, had been with Djurgårdens in his first “full” season in the SHL. 

He’s struggled in the SHL but has averaged less than 10 minutes per game. Had the OHL season not been delayed, Grewe would’ve been in North America all season. The OHL is a clear step up from the J20 SuperElit in Sweden, so although it’s disappointing he hasn’t figured things out in the SHL, perhaps this is the move that will get him going again. 

Meanwhile, Holway is presumably being given a shot to show he can be a guy for the Wings. Detroit will lose his rights this summer if they decide not to offer him a contract, so this is an opportunity for the 6’5” defender to show what he can do. He’s yet to play a game so far.

Seth Barton, the 81st overall pick in 2018, signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Wings last month as well. Barton has spent the past three seasons in the NCAA with UMass-Lowell. I haven’t seen much of Barton yet, but he appears to be a decent puck-moving defenseman with bottom-pairing upside.

18. Kivenmäki inks two-year deal with Pelicans

Otto Kivenmäki, a 7th round pick in 2018, had been in the Ässät organization for his entire career — dating all the way back to his U16 days. Kivenmäki is a very talented, albeit undersized, forward who had 6 goals and 18 points in 29 games this season.

I’m a big Kivenmäki fan. I love his game. Really hoping he stays healthy and has a big year with the Pelicans. The Red Wings have until June, 2022 to sign Kivenmäki to an entry-level deal, so 2021-22 will be a huge year for Otto.

19. Mass-terful performance

Congrats to UMass on its first national title in program history. The Minutemen strolled to a 5-0 victory over St. Cloud State in the NCAA championship game.

A few Red Wings prospects participated in the NCAA tournament, but none advanced past the first round. Keith Petruzzelli (Quinnipiac), Robert Mastrosimone (Boston Univ.), and Sam Stange (Wisconsin) saw their seasons come to an end in late March. You can add Cooper Moore (North Dakota) to that list, though he was left off the Fighting Hawks’ roster.

Mastrosimone, Stange, and Moore have long offseasons ahead of them, while all eyes will be on Petruzzelli as he negotiates his entry-level contract with the Red Wings. 

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