19 Notions - First Edition

19 Notions - Red Wings Pipeline
By Jeff Watters

March 19, 2021

19 Notions is a new 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.

Welcome to the first edition of 19 Notions — a blatant rip-off of Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts.

In all seriousness, there are just so many things I’d like to discuss that don’t warrant their own stand-alone piece of content — and this seemed like the best way to organize some of these notions.

I wanted to kick this new series off by thanking all of you for reading and following Red Wings Pipeline. I appreciate the passion Red Wings’ fans have for their prospects, and I’m happy to be able to provide a fraction of the content you consume on a regular basis. 

So, thank you.

If you’re wondering what the significance of “19” is, well, you’re probably in the wrong place. I don’t know what to tell you, but maybe this guy does:

Steve Yzerman General Manager Detroit Red Wings
Photo: Daniel Mears, Detroit News

I’ve also yet to decide how often I’ll be dishing out new editions of 19 Notions, but the 19th of every month would make some sense, wouldn’t it?

Draft Lottery Changes 

I’ll get to my 19 Notions in a moment, but first, let’s touch on the draft lottery.

Way back on March 8th, Chris Johnston came out with news that the NHL had submitted a proposal to make some changes to the draft lottery.

To my surprise — and delight — two of my proposed changes made the cut.

Early in February, there was talk of limiting the number of times a team could win the lottery. Specifically, there was interest around the league in implementing a change that would prevent teams from winning the lottery in back-to-back years.  

As I wrote, the idea of not allowing back-to-back wins is counterintuitive — and seemingly the NHL agreed.

My — and now the NHL’s — proposal of limiting teams to no more than two lottery wins per five-year period would scratch that itch for some, while still allowing a team like Detroit to draft multiple impact players as quickly as possible.

It’s anticipated that a lottery win is to be interpreted as “moving up.” So, if a team finishes last and wins the lottery, it would be considered a lottery win. This means a team finishing last could pick first overall repeatedly. The same would go for a team finishing 2nd last and winning the second lottery — they could seemingly pick 2nd overall without using up one of their lottery “wins.”

The other change I felt made sense was choosing two lottery winners instead of three. This would ensure the last place team drafts no lower than 3rd; 2nd no lower than 4th, etc. This guarantees the Red Wings will never again have the misfortune of dropping 3 spots after a draft lottery — that’s got to be considered a win, right?

The NHL agreed with this notion as well and included this in their proposal.

The final change Johnston mentioned, I’m not so crazy about.

Teams will still be able to jump 10 spots if they are lucky enough to be one of the lottery winners. This means that the team with the 11th best odds to win the lottery can still pick 1st overall, the 12th best can still pick 2nd, etc. 

It’s easy to see why the NHL wants to keep as many teams as possible in the running for 1st overall. It’s tough to keep fans engaged when you only have a handful of teams with a vested interest in the outcome of the lottery. More teams in, more fans watching. 

It’s also a lifeline for teams stuck in the middle. I immediately think of a team like Minnesota (although Kirill Kaprizov is quickly becoming that guy for the Wild). I suppose I wouldn’t be complaining if the Red Wings jumped from 11 to 1 in a few years and picked up the superstar that could take them to the next level.

We haven’t seen the proposed odds for each slot, so it’ll be interesting to see how that final piece of the lottery puzzle fits in with the other changes that have been proposed.

Finally, all potential changes (other than moving from 3 lottery winners to just 2) won’t take effect until 2022. 

This means that, hypothetically, if the Red Wings were to win the lottery this season, they could still win in 2022 (Shane Wright draft) and 2023 (Matvei Michkov draft). 

This is highly unlikely, but it’s nice to be involved in as many lotteries as possible.

All in all, these changes are good for the Red Wings. They’ll be given better odds with the absence of the 3rd lottery winner, and will drop fewer spots if a team above them in the standings gets lucky. 

Now let’s get into it. The first edition of 19 Notions:

19 Notions

1. The clock is ticking for a handful of Red Wings prospects.

The following players will need to be signed to an entry-level contract by the dates listed. Otherwise, the Red Wings will lose their rights and each player will become an unrestricted free agent. 

NCAA Prospects: August 15, 2021

Patrick Holway, D, 24 (2015 – 6th Round, 170th)
Kasper Kotkansalo, D, 22 (2017 – 3rd Round, 71st)
Keith Petruzzelli, G, 22 (2017 – 3rd Round, 88th)

Non-North American Prospects: June 1, 2021

Malte Setkov, D, 22 (2017 – 4th Round, 100th)

I would expect the Red Wings will do everything in their power to lock up Petruzzelli soon after he completes his senior year at Quinnipiac. The only question will be if he is interested in remaining with the team or would prefer to test the market after the August 15th deadline.

Petruzzelli has had another strong season — 1.78 GAA, .929 SV%, and 4 shutouts thru 27 games.

He’d be hard-pressed to find a clearer path to the NHL if he decides to sign elsewhere. Max Bultman, of The Athletic, recently reported that Petruzzelli is indeed hoping to get a deal done with Detroit, so let’s hope the Wings are able to officially add the towering netminder to the system soon.

Keith Petruzzelli makes a save
Keith Petruzzelli has had a fantastic season for Quinnipiac. | Photo: Rob Rasmussen/Quinnipiac Athletics

Of the three defensemen, Setkov may garner some consideration, but I wouldn’t expect the Wings to offer him a contract. Detroit will likely cut ties with Holway and Kotkansalo — who’s actually playing in Finland this season —  as well.

2. The accolades keep rolling in for Petruzzelli

Petruzzelli was named a Top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker award and won the ECAC Goaltender of the Year award this week. Montreal Canadiens 2019 1st rounder Cole Caufield is expected to take home Hobey Baker honors, but it’s good to see the Quinnipiac senior recognized for his outstanding run this season.

Petruzzelli leads the nation in games started and has made 57 consecutive starts dating all the way back to the 2019-20 season opener.

3. Johansson buzzing in the SHL

One Red Wing who’s already received an entry-level deal is Albert Johansson. The 2019 2nd rounder has been a man on fire since returning from his first-ever international tournament with the Swedish men’s national team. He has 2 goals and 7 points in the 8 games that have followed the Beijer Games.

I’ve got high hopes for Johansson. He’s a dynamic player. The plan seems to be for him to come over and compete for a spot in the NHL next season. It’s very unlikely he breaks camp with the Red Wings, but Johansson is closer than a lot of people, including me, thought he’d be at this time last year.

4. Sebrango gets his Entry Level Contract

Defenseman Donovan Sebrango inked his three-year ELC on Sunday, making him the first of the Wings’ class of 2020 to sign with the club.

It’s been a whirlwind of a season for Sebrango. After nearly making the Canadian national junior team, the 19-year-old had a brief stint in the Slovakian league where he piled up 50 PIM in 5 games (he also had a goal and 2 assists).

Sebrango then returned to North America to join the Griffins after being signed to an amateur tryout. He’s done well to parlay that into an entry-level deal.

Sebrango’s stock is on the rise, and that’s exciting to see from a third-round pick. It’s not every day you see a mid-rounder be the first of his team’s draft class to be awarded an ELC. 

5. Viro also on the rise

Eemil Viro is another 2020 third-round pick who’s impressed this season. He’s had an excellent run with a very good TPS squad in the Finnish Liiga.

Viro is still just 18 (turns 19 next month) but has continued to show he’s not only advanced for his age defensively but may have some more offensive upside as well. We saw glimpses of this at this year’s World Juniors, but it looks like Viro has begun playing with more conviction on a regular basis back in Finland. Viro had 3 assists in 29 games in 2019-20. This year, in 43 games, he has 4 goals and 13 points. 

If Viro can continue to show more of this creativity and conviction with the puck, we may be seeing a trend here with Red Wings defense prospects. Moritz Seider and Albert Johansson were two other defenders who faced questions about their offensive upside. Red Wings scouts have seemingly targeted and identified skilled defensemen who’ve either been assigned shut-down roles or have lacked the confidence to fully display their talents.

I was a big fan of the Wings 2020 draft but did not expect Sebrango and Viro to impress this much, this early.

6. Another Söderblom?

Elmer Söderblom has had a very impressive 2020-21 campaign. While he hasn’t produced big numbers with Frölunda’s men’s team, it’s safe to say he’s playing in the right league. It’s hard not to get excited about a player with his unique skill set. 

But did you know he has an older brother who also plays in the SHL?

Elmer and Arvid Soderblom
Elmer (L) and Arvid (R) Söderblom have become household names in the SHL this season. | Photo: norran.se

Arvid Söderblom is a goaltender and teammate of another Red Wings prospect — Jonatan Berggren.

Arvid is “just” 6’3” and, like his younger brother, has impressed this year. His .922 SV% and 2.08 GAA are 2nd in the entire SHL this season. At just 21 years old, Arvid is garnering interest from NHL teams.

I do wonder if the Red Wings have checked in. If there is interest, you’d have to think the possibility of one day playing with his younger brother would persuade him to join the organization.

7. Niederbach back in Frölunda

Lucas Raymond’s injury came at a bad time for Frölunda. They’re in the middle of a playoff push and are now down a key contributor.

A silver lining? Theodor Niederbach is back with the team to take Raymond’s spot. The 2020 2nd round pick had been loaned to Modo (Allsvenskan) where he had 3 goals and 9 points in 15 games. Now back in the SHL, he’ll get to experience his first playoff run with the men’s team.

In 7 games since returning to Frölunda Niederbach has a goal and 2 assists in 7 games.

8. Leadership qualities.

They’re in the DNA of some players — and when you see or hear about prospects demonstrating the ability to lead, your ears tend to perk up.

That’s why the story (via The EliteProspects Podcast) of Lucas Raymond being a calming influence during the World Juniors got me that much more excited about the Red Wings 2020 1st round pick.

No, I’m not talking about an 18-year-old simply taking on a leadership role in a tournament filled with 19-year-olds. Raymond was said to have been a huge help to…his coach.

That’s right. 31-year-old Joel Ronnmark — who had been an assistant coach at the 2019 and 2020 World Juniors before filling in for Tomas Monten this year — apparently let it be known that Lucas Raymond was the person who helped him the most throughout the tournament.

Lucas Raymond drives to the net at 2021 World Juniors
Lucas Raymond had an impact on and off the ice for Sweden at the 2021 World Juniors. | Photo: hockeycanada.ca

According to Red Wings Director of European Scouting, Hakaan Andersson, Ronnmark praised Raymond for being a big part of team meetings and communicating with players. Ronnmark apparently said that, without Raymond, he felt he would’ve been a disaster as a head coach.

9. How about a Joe Veleno update?

The 30th overall pick in 2018 is doing what he always seems to do. Slowly but surely acclimate to a new level. 

Veleno is now up to 10 goals and 18 points in 40 games for Malmo in the SHL — that’s good for 5th in team scoring.

He hasn’t had the good fortune of playing on a contender, like Moritz Seider’s Rögle squad, but Veleno has shown steady progress throughout the year.

He’s continued to work on his defensive game, which has likely been a considerable challenge on the bigger ice surface. Notably, he’s spent a lot of time on the wing to lessen the burden of playing that two-way game.

In my viewings, Veleno has been noticeably more patient and confident with the puck when compared to earlier this season. He’s primarily been a north-south type player but has shown the ability to slow the game down, hold onto the puck, and make some impressive plays. Hopefully, he can carry this momentum into camp next season.

10. Cholowski’s hot start

Dennis Cholowski got off to a blistering start down in Grand Rapids this season. He had 8 points in Grand Rapids’ first 7 games before being held off the scoresheet in the 4 games that followed.

Jeff Blashill has repeatedly stated Cholowski needs to be elite at quarterbacking the power play and creating offense, ostensibly recognizing that defense will never be one of Cholowski’s strong suits. Well, I don’t think you could’ve asked for much more than what he’s done so far.

I’m still of the belief you leave Dennis in Grand Rapids and make him prove this is sustainable. You want to see him show he can be effective night in and night out. He’s yet to have a full year in Grand Rapids, so let’s hope he gets at least a few months of consistency this year.

If he is called up, he’s got to be given the time to figure things out in the NHL. Please, no more yo-yoing between Detroit and Grand Rapids.

11. The WHL’s return to play

I’ll be keeping an eye on the WHL from here on out. A number of teams have resumed play, and it’s looking like the entire league will be back in action by March 26. 

There have been a couple of 2020 Red Wings draft picks who’ve been affected by the delayed season. 

Cross Hanas (2nd Round, 55th) and Alex Cotton (5th round, 132nd) have seen varying amounts of action in the USHL and AJHL, respectively.

Hanas has been playing with the Lincoln Stars (USHL) after spending the past two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks. He’s totaled 9 points (1 goal) in 17 games this season. More notably, Hanas has racked up 77 PIM (including 48 in his past 3 games). The forward has been slammed with a handful of misconducts this year — three of them on March 6 vs. Omaha.

Aside from the disciplinary issues, Hanas had a nice run from February 26 – March 5 where he piled up 7 points in 5 games, so he has been better of late. Hopefully, he can show some more consistency — but this has been something that’s plagued him in the past. Hanas is expected to stay in the USHL for the remainder of the season.

Cotton was briefly with the Canmore Eagles (AJHL) where he scored once and added 2 assists in just 2 contests.

The defenseman has already returned to Lethbridge (WHL) and has 2 goals and 5 points in 5 games for the Hurricanes.

12. Evgeny Svechnikov!

It’s unfortunate that Svechnikov has only been able to crack the lineup due to injuries, but it sure has been refreshing to see Geno wearing the winged wheel again.

In his first NHL action this year, all Svech did was score and assist on Frans Nielsen’s first goal of the season (turns out the key was not playing Svechnikov in place of Nielsen, but playing them together). He followed that up by scoring a power play goal on an elite release from the top of the left circle in his second game back with the Wings.

Seeing Svechnikov finally get to square off against his little brother, Andrei, was one of the bright spots of the season (that says a lot about how this year has gone). Evgeny is such an easy guy to cheer for, and all indications are he’s a great teammate. I think this quote from Dylan Larkin — re: his injury and Svechnikov’s call up — sums it up:

“If my being out is what it takes for you to show what you can do for this team, that’s what it’s all about and it makes me so happy that you get in.”

That speaks volumes. 

Andrei and Evgeny Svechnikov pose for a picture
Andrei (L) and Evgeny (R) Svechnikov pose for a picture before facing off for the first time. | Photo: Karl DeBlaker, Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, Svechnikov was sent down to Grand Rapids after his 4 points in 4 games. He’s since been recalled to fill in for Bobby Ryan, and played under 10 minutes in Tuesday’s win over Carolina. 

I wish I had the answers, but I’ve just about given up trying to make sense of his utilization this season. 

13. Let’s talk Michael Rasmussen

He’s back up with the Red Wings.

Injuries to Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri left Detroit thin down the middle earlier this month, so I understood the call-up (though I would’ve handled it differently).

Initially, I feared Rasmussen would be getting the Cholowski treatment.

The Cholowski Treatment:

  1. Sent to Grand Rapids to properly develop; 
  2. Called up as soon as there’s an injury in Detroit; 
  3. Sent back down when injured players return/sent back down due to lackluster performance;
  4. Rinse, repeat

Well, he’s still up — and it looks like he’s here to stay. I’ll take this over the Cholowski treatment to be sure, but I still hoped he’d be given the full year in Grand Rapids. If that means Valtteri Filppula is your 3rd line centre this season, so be it.

I will say I’ve been more impressed with Rasmussen’s game lately — particularly in the defensive and neutral zones. But I still think he needs to be generating more 5-on-5 offense to be effective at the NHL level.

14. Not much news on the Damir Zhafyarov front

The Red Wings, along with many other NHL teams, were reported to have interest in signing the Russian winger last month. At 26 (and soon to be 27), Zhafyarov isn’t a prospect per se, but this is still worth a mention.

Zhafyarov finished 3rd in KHL scoring with 21 goals and 61 points in 58 games for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod this season.

This has certainly been a breakout year for him as he’d never topped 37 points in a single season prior to this year. He’s just 5’9” and 170 lbs — and not the fastest skater — but he’s been lauded for his high-tempo play and compete level. 

He’s a playmaker with a high hockey IQ, and he’s been killing penalties as well. He’s an interesting guy who’s probably another bottom-6 candidate.

We should hear some news soon. Zhafyarov is said to be looking to sign as early as this month now that his season has come to an end.

15. Zhafyarov and the Red Wings’ lineup

If the Red Wings were to bring on Zhafyarov, the lineup shuffle would continue. 

In this hypothetical, it’s certainly possible the Wings have moved out Bobby Ryan or Luke Glendening already. I’m not sure how comfortable Steve Yzerman and Jeff Blashill would be playing a team full of unproven players, so Zhafyarov may end up taking playing time away from Svechnikov and Brome, and make it that much more difficult for Hirose and Givani Smith to get back into the lineup this season.

The Wings would really need to believe in Zhafyarov to bring him in, as it would have a rippling effect throughout the lineup.

16. Injured Wings

Otto Kivenmäki was in the midst of an impressive year with Ässät (Liiga) when he went down with an undisclosed injury late in January. He was on pace to nearly double his production from a year ago. We’ll continue to wait for an update on his status.

2019 4th round pick and Boston University forward Ethan Phillips has been out with a concussion since the 1st game of the season, but according to head coach Albie O’Connell, he has begun skating. Unfortunately, it’s looking like a lost season for the sophomore.

17. Midseason Top 20 Musings

As I chip away at RWP’s midseason prospect rankings (due out later this month), I can’t help but appreciate how well the team has handled the past 3 drafts. I’ve written about this before, but the amount of value the Red Wings have gotten is pretty incredible.

Jonatan Berggren in the 2nd round; Albert Johansson late in the 2nd round; Eemil Viro, Donovan Sebrango, and Keith Petruzzelli in the 3rd; Elmer Söderblom in the 6th; Otto Kivenmäki in the 7th; the list goes on.

The surplus-value here is substantial. Not all of these guys are going to make it, but the fact that we’re talking about 6th and 7th rounders as prospects a few years after they were drafted is a damn good sign.

And this is why you accumulate as many picks as possible. 

18. Targeting Jake Bean

I no longer consider him a prospect, but I wonder what it would take to pry Jake Bean away from Carolina, They’ve got a handful of very good defensemen they’ll need to protect in the expansion draft, and would probably prefer not to lose one for nothing.

Jake Bean fends off Marc Staal
Carolina defenseman Jake Bean fends off Marc Staal in Tuesday’s game between the Hurricanes and Red Wings. | Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

I’m not even sure what fair value would be for Bean at this point or if Carolina would even expose him to Seattle (I suppose that depends on how they handle Dougie Hamilton, a pending UFA) but he’s an attractive target and has intrigued me for a while now.

19. Zadina settling in

I’m so happy with Filip Zadina’s development. Here’s an interesting stat on Detroit’s 2018 1st rounder:

Zadina has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) this season. All but 3 of those points have come against either Carolina or Tampa Bay — 2 of the best teams in the NHL this season.

Zadina had one of his best games of the season in Detroit’s March 4th loss to the Hurricanes. Two goals, six shots, a 51.72 CF% (Corsi for %) and a 69.89 xGF% (expected goals for %).

Zadina is quickly becoming one of the Red Wings’ most dangerous players, and the effort is there on a consistent basis. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he closes out the season.

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