19 Notions - End of Season Edition

19 Notions End of Season Edition
By Jeff Watters

May 20, 2021

Welcome to the third edition of 19 Notions — a new monthly series providing 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.

A day late, but lots to get to. Let’s jump right into it.

19 Notions

1. Moritz Seider named SHL Defenseman of the Year

It’s standing room only on the Mo Seider hype train. His incredible year in Sweden was topped off with the award for best defender in the SHL. Jesse Virtanen and Joel Persson were the other finalists for the award.

I mean, what’s left to say here? Completely deserved. Seider had a dominant year in a very strong league — and just turned 20 years old in April. The Red Wings and their fans have to be incredibly excited to see what next season brings.

I know I am.

2. Eemil Viro the latest to ink an ELC

Just squeezing this one in. Last night, it was announced that the Red Wings had signed Viro to a three-year entry-level deal.

Could things have gone better for the Red Wings’ 2020 third-round picks? Viro and Donovan Sebrango truly exceeded expectations this season and are making the Wings’ 2020 draft look better and better by the day.

Viro has always had an advanced — albeit low-event style — defensive game but has taken big steps forward in terms of his decision-making this season. He’ll still leave you wanting more, but as he gains confidence with the puck I’m hopeful he’ll use his speed and continue to take what’s given to him at both ends of the ice.

Eemil Viro scores for TPS
Eemil Viro celebrates a goal. | Photo: redbull.com/fi

Viro’s impressive playoff run with TPS came to an end last week when his Turku-based squad dropped Game 5 of the Liiga finals 6-2 to Lukko.

Viro had 3 goals — including 2 game-winning goals — and 4 points in 12 playoff games. 

3. Petruzzelli spending another year at Quinnipiac?

In Steve Yzerman’s end-of-season presser, he shed some light on the Keith Petruzzelli situation.

Due to COVID-19, NCAA athletes have been given the option to exercise an additional year of college eligibility.

It seems Petruzzelli is giving that option some serious consideration. He’s not yet decided whether he would like to return to college for one more season or turn pro this summer.

It’s worth noting that if Petruzzelli does decide to go the college route the Red Wings will retain his rights for an additional year. They would then have until August 15, 2022 to get him under contract.

If there is mutual interest in getting a deal done with the Red Wings, I see no issue with Keith spending another season at Quinnipiac. He’ll be just 23 at the end of next season — and even then wouldn’t be NHL ready. 

4. Veleno impressive in NHL debut

All things considered, Joe Veleno’s debut really could not have gone much better — aside from the stinker of a game it came in.

Veleno logged nearly 15 minutes (!) of ice time in his first NHL game, was hard on the puck, and had a couple of sneaky takeaways.

In 5 games with the Wings, Veleno had just 1 point — a goal.

It sure was a beauty, though.

Veleno has an NHL release. He’s never going to be a big goal scorer, but it sure is nice to see another skilled forward who knows how to finish. 

Veleno also looked really explosive during his time with the Red Wings. This was much more noticeable back on North American ice.

Does Joe V. break camp with the team next season? Who knows. But he sure hasn’t done anything to hurt his chances.

5. Michael Rasmussen’s development

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to Michael Rasmussen’s development in 2021. It took him some time to adapt to the pace of the NHL after his call-up in early March, but he really hit his stride in April and carried that momentum through to the end of the season.

I suppose it didn’t hurt that he went from playing 12-13 minutes to 17-18 minutes per game, but kudos to him for earning that ice time.

No, Rasmussen isn’t suddenly a top six forward, but I’m much more confident in his ability to stay down the middle after his performance this season. He’s on track to be a very capable third-line centre who has finally shown some awareness in the offensive zone.

6. Jonatan Berggren leaves Skellefteå AIK

Berggren is officially on the move. This was expected, but officially announced a few weeks ago. I think we all know what this means, but…

7. Berggren has yet to sign with Detroit

You have to think this announcement is coming soon — especially now that Steve Yzerman has tied up whatever loose ends he was attending to over the past few weeks.

jonatan berggren celebrates with skelleftea
Jonatan Berggren’s tenure with Skellefteå has come to an end. | Photo: ANDREAS L ERIKSSON / Bildbyrån

Berggren should start the 2021-22 season in Grand Rapids, but hey — if he comes in and proves he’s able the play in the Red Wings top six or top nine and contribute immediately… I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make the big club.

The same goes for Lucas Raymond. Still, I would anticipate Berggren starts the year in GR and makes his debut later next season — assuming he performs well in the AHL.

8. Sweden sweeps Norway for Nordic Cup; drops 2 of 3 at Carlson Games

In a pre-World Championship tune-up, Jonatan Berggren, Albert Johansson, and Team Sweden topped Norway in a couple of exhibition games on May 3-4.

I wasn’t able to catch either game, but — of course — some clips of Berggren’s ridiculous passing surfaced on Twitter.

The Swedes then headed to the Czech Republic for another set of friendlies —the Carlson Games. Johansson didn’t play, while Berggren played 13-14 minutes per game on the 4th line.

9. Johansson makes the cut — Berggren does not 

After some late additions — of NHL players — it was announced that Berggren had been among the final cuts from Team Sweden.

Albert Johansson did make the final roster. However, I wouldn’t anticipate him playing much — if at all. He’s listed as the ninth defenseman and, as mentioned, did not dress at the Carlson Games. It seems things would have to go catastrophically wrong on Sweden’s blueline for the Red Wings prospect to work his way into the lineup.

Sweden 2021 World Championship roster
Photo: Tre Kronor (via Twitter)

Regardless, it’ll be a great experience for a 20-year-old who just completed his draft-plus-2 season. 

The World Championship kicks off in Belarus and Latvia on Friday, May 21st, and wraps up on June 6th.

10. Tyutyayev signs with Griffins

I’ll be honest, this came out of left field.

Kirill Tyutyayev wasn’t even on my radar when considering which Red Wings prospects would be next to sign. Granted, it’s an AHL deal and not an ELC, but I fully expected Tyutyayev to move to the KHL next season. 

Russians drafted in the late rounds are generally wild cards in terms of their intentions and NHL aspirations, so I’m thrilled that Tyutyayev is coming over to North America as a 20-year-old.

And that’s the other thing here. Not only was he a 7th round draft pick — he’s 20! He was drafted in 2019.

I’ve said it before, but Tyutyayev’s game really reminds me of Taro Hirose. I’m not a huge fan of comps, but this one stuck out to me almost immediately. 

11. Top prospects shine and U18s in Frisco, TX

Shane Wright (2022) and Connor Bedard (2023) both had 14 points — in 5 and 7 games for Canada, respectively. Matvei Michkov (2023) had 12 goals and 16 points in 7 games for the Russians — and was named tournament MVP.

We’re just over 2 months out from the 2021 draft, but man, it’s hard not to look ahead to 2022 and 2023. 

connor bedard celebrates goal team canada
Connor Bedard is on another level — at just 15 years old. | Photo: House of Hockey/youtube

Of course, I’ve already set myself up for the disappointment of being denied a top 3 pick in both of these drafts, but if the Red Wings can somehow land one of these guys…

And Connor Bedard? Still just 15 years old.

15.

He doesn’t turn 16 until July 17.

The kid…is a freak.

12. 2021 eligibles at U18s

Ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves with all this 2022 and 2023 talk.

The 2021 draft will be held virtually on July 23-24, and we won’t know where the Red Wings are picking until the lottery winners are announced on June 2nd.

But we do know:

1) they’ll be given 6th best odds with a 7.6% chance to land the 1st overall pick and

2) they’ll be making 2 picks on Day 1 of the draft. The additional 1st round pick acquired from the Washington Capitals will most likely land somewhere in the 20s. We won’t know where this pick is until the Caps are eliminated.

So who could the Red Wings be targeting among the top performers in Frisco, TX?

With their first pick, you’re looking at Fabian Lysell, RW (SWE), Simon Edvinsson, D (SWE), Dylan Guenther, RW/LW (CAN), and Brandt Clarke, D (CAN). Honestly, I would be perfectly fine with any of these guys.

Bob McKenzie’s most recent polling of NHL scouts would have us believe Guenther and Edvinsson will go in the top 5, while Clarke and Lysell are more likely to be available when the Wings inevitably pick at 6th, 7th, or 8th.

With Washington’s pick, well, let’s just say it’s even more wide open than it is at the top of the draft.

Some names to consider? Fyodor Svechkov, C/LW (RUS), Nikita Chibrikov, LW (RUS), Isak Rosen, LW (SWE), Logan Stankoven, C/RW (CAN), Corson Ceulemans, D (CAN), and Brennan Othmann, LW (CAN). 

13. Chase Pearson exceeding expectations

Pearson quietly put together a heckuva sophomore season down in Grand Rapids.

With his 8 goals and 22 points, he matched his 2019-20 totals — in just 28 games. Pearson put up the exact same numbers in 59 games last season. I don’t think anyone expected that uptick in offensive output from the 2015 5th rounder.

With the influx of young talent set to continue in Detroit — and Steve Yzerman sure to continue to supplement that youth with veteran stop-gaps — it’s going to be tough for Pearson to crack the roster. We’ve already seen how difficult it is for young, bottom 6 guys to stick in Jeff Blashill’s lineup. 

But his performance this season has done nothing but help his chances. Maybe he can push for a spot next season.

14. McIsaac’s AHL debut 

Congrats to Jared McIsaac, who picked up his first pro point with an assist in Grand Rapids’ May 1st loss to Rockford. He ended the year with 2 assists in 10 games for the Griffins.

McIsaac did miss a couple of games to end the year after spraining his AC joint. Reports are it was a minor injury and won’t affect his offseason training in the slightest — which is good news! I can’t think of a Red Wings prospect that needs a full summer more than McIsaac. It’s been a rough stretch for the Nova Scotian.

Don’t sleep on McIsaac, though. He’s often overlooked due to his injury history, but he’s still just 21 years old and could factor into the Red Wings’ plans soon with a solid 2021-22 season.

15. Over/under on prospects making their NHL debut in 2021-22?

I’ve been thinking about this lately, and what I’ve come to realize is a lot can change in a year. 

Moritz Seider, barring an injury, will be in the Red Wings lineup opening night. Even if he somehow has a catastrophic camp and begins the year in GR, he’ll debut next season. That’s a lock.

Moritz Seider Detroit Red WIngs
Expect to see Moritz Seider in the Red Wings’ top 4 from the opening bell next season. | Photo: nhl.com

And that’s really the only certainty. I would say it’s very, very likely we see Jonatan Berggren at some point next season. He would need to have an incredible camp to start the season with the Wings, but I would expect him to be called up at some point. 

Lucas Raymond? We don’t even know if he’ll be in North America next season — but he is signed. He could play another year in the SHL and make his way over at the conclusion of Frolunda’s 2021-22 season. 

And then there’s Albert Johansson. You have to think he’s in the same boat as Berggren. When Johansson signed his ELC — about 11 months ago — I believe the plan all along was to have him play the 2020-21 season in SHL before coming over to North America. Director of Player Development Shawn Horcoff has said something to this effect.

Beyond these four, there are a few wildcards. 

What if Kirill Tyutyayev goes on a tear in Grand Rapids and earns a contract from the Wings? Perhaps injuries in Detroit lead to McIsaacs’s debut. 

So, the over/under? Let’s set it at 2.5, and I’m going to go ahead and take the over. I think Seider, Berggren, and Johansson will all make their NHL debuts next season.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

16. So how about that 2018 draft?

Some say Ken Holland hit the 2018 draft out of the park, others say the talent dropped to him. Either way, 2018 is shaping up to be a very profitable draft year for the Wings. 

Detroit’s first four picks in 2018? Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren, Jared McIsaac.

Granted, all four players were taken in the top 36 — essentially giving the Red Wings four 1st round picks —  but look no further than the Boston Bruins’ 2015 draft if you think this guarantees you anything.

(Interestingly enough, the Red Wings’ 5th pick in 2018 was 3rd rounder Alec Regula, who debuted for the Blackhawks this year.)

Of course, we’ll need to see Zadina score a lot more, Veleno has played all of 5 games in the NHL, Berggren has yet to play a professional game in North America, and McIsaac has barely gotten his feet wet in the AHL…

But I’m hopeful.

17. Blashill re-upped for two more seasons

We all saw this coming. 

I’m going to be honest — I don’t have strong feelings about this one way or another. I understand some fans are enraged and point to Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha’s regression, Filip Zadina’s lack of production, and the deployment of Detroit’s veteran players, but I can’t say I don’t understand Yzerman’s logic behind the decision to stick with Blashill.

Yzerman has a plan. If he’s confident in Blashill’s ability to work alongside him to accomplish the plan in 2021-22 and 2022-23, I’m completely ok with that.

We have to trust that, just as players grow and mature, so can coaches. As more talent is infused into the lineup, it’ll be incumbent upon Jeff Blashill to make adjustments to his system in order to maximize the skill of his team.

18. But what does it mean for the prospects?

If guys like Moritz Seider, Jonatan Berggren, Lucas Raymond, and Albert Johansson come in and Blashill can’t adapt, I don’t see him being long for the Red Wings organization.

This isn’t to say that these players don’t need to earn their ice time, but as the team adds skill Blashill will need to make adjustments. It’s that simple.

There’s clearly been a lot of patience and understanding from Yzerman the last few seasons, but if the Wings blue-chip prospects stall under Blashill that’s an entirely different conversation. 

I will give him the benefit of the doubt, though. He has said multiple times that the Wings play the way they do based on the way they’re constructed.

Well, as the makeup of the team changes, I’d expect Blashill to as well.

19. Albin Grewe signs in Liiga

Grewe will suit up for Ilves next season. “T-Rex” signed a one-year deal — plus an option — with the club after splitting time between the SHL and AHL in 2020-21.

The 2021-22 season will be an important one for Grewe. He’s yet to establish himself at the professional level and has bounced around quite a bit over the past two seasons. Let’s hope that he can take on a prominent role with Ilves and put himself back on the map.

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