Moritz Seider: Prospect Profile

Moritz Seider Rogle BK
By Jeff Watters

November 25, 2020

At just 19-years-old, Moritz Seider is having a phenomenal season in the SHL. Last season, he was very impressive in the AHL at just 18. Has the big German defenseman done enough to earn a spot on the Red Wings blueline in 2021?

When Moritz Seider was selected 6th overall by the Red Wings in the 2019 draft, pundits and fans considered the pick to be a reach. With so many talented forwards available to a team lacking offense, how could the Red Wings take a d-man who was projected to go mid-round? Someone they surely could have traded down for?

The 2019 draft was full of talent. With the 6th pick, many had earmarked Dylan Cozens, Trevor Zegras, or Vasily Podkolzin as possible Red Wing picks. Defensemen Philip Broberg and Victor Soderstrom were seen as top 10 talents but not quite worthy of a top 6 selection. In the same way many expected Ken Holland to take a defenseman in 2018, most anticipated Steve Yzerman would nab a skilled forward.

But just as Holland flipped the script with the Zadina selection, Steve Yzerman identified his guy in Mo Seider and made the pick.

Seider quickly turned skeptics into believers. From his infectious smile to his bone-crushing hits, Seider has endeared himself to fans (and talent evaluators). What’s stood out over the past year and a half, however, is how Seider has slowly gone from ‘fan-favorite’ to “Ok, we may really have something here.” He’s exceeded expectations at every stop. He’s impressed at every level. Seider continues to open eyes, and here’s the best part: he may just be getting started.

The Draft Year

Moritz Seider made his professional debut for Adler Mannheim in the DEL at just 16-years-old. He had played the previous year and a half in Germany’s top junior league, the DNL, and had done more than enough to force his way onto the men’s roster. In 48 games for the U19 team, Seider scored 14 goals and had 39 points. While he played just 4 games during his first call-up to Adler Mannheim in 2017-18, he cemented his spot on the team in 2018-19 at just 17-years-old. 

That season, Seider’s draft year, he didn’t get the ice time you would expect a 1st round pick to garner. Not unlike fellow Red Wings prospect Lucas Raymond, Seider had to earn every minute as he was playing in a men’s league on a very talented team. The message to Seider from head coach, Pavel Gross? “Play defense.”

Moritz Seider Adler Mannheim
Moritz Seider impressed during his time in the DEL | Photo: Adler Mannheim, Soerli Binder/AS Sportfoto

Alright, I may be paraphrasing there. The idea, however, was that Seider was a kid playing in a men’s league. He was a teenager with an elite hockey IQ who could be a dependable shut-down defenseman. Gross was not going to ask too much of his young defender even if there was some offense he could bring to the table. His coach wanted to ensure he succeeded and limited his role.

However, Seider had put up offensive numbers at every stop and against much older competition. As a 12-year-old, Seider had 12 goals and 23 points in 21 games for a U16 team. The following season, he was up to 14 goals and 34 points. Then, in the span of one season, Seider had gone from dominating a U16 league to becoming a point-per-game player in a U19 league and then turning pro. That’s pretty remarkable.

Despite Seider’s track record of success, his role was limited with Mannheim. With just 2 goals and 6 points in 29 games that season, his offensive stat line didn’t jump off the page. During Mannheim’s championship playoff run, however, Seider had 5 assists in 14 games while playing in all situations. He began turning heads. Seider had been a borderline 1st rounder on many draft boards all season but was starting to solidify himself as a definite Day 1 pick with his impressive playoff performance.

Seider quickly followed this up by scoring 2 goals in 5 games for Germany at the 2019 Men’s World Championships. He played in Germany’s Top 4 and gave scouts another opportunity to wonder if there was more to his offensive game than previously thought. The skill was there. He showed glimpses of not only his complete defensive game but his offensive potential.

Development Camp and the AHL

From the Red Wings’ perspective, it didn’t take long for Seider to impress. Just 4 days after being drafted, Seider attended the Red Wings annual development camp and showed why he was at the top of the team’s board at pick 6. His skating, poise, and maturity were all on display, but perhaps most intriguing was the offensive skill he brought to the Red vs. White scrimmages. 

While Seider’s aggressiveness offensively was the buzz around camp, it was the young defender’s advanced defensive game that gave the Red Wings the confidence to assign him to Grand Rapids for the 2019-20 season. 

Once again, Seider was being challenged. And boy, did he deliver. 

The AHL is a tough league to play in — especially as an 18-year-old. Watching Moritz Seider, you would never guess he was still a teenager. His seamless transition to the smaller North American ice was something to behold. Typically, there is a learning curve for European players when they make the move across the pond. Seider, however, looked like a seasoned AHL veteran.

Seider briefly transitioned back to the larger European ice while captaining the Germans at the 2020 World Juniors. He looked downright dominant, and as an 18-year-old in a 19-year-old tournament, he was among the very best defensemen. Good things seemed to happen every time Seider was on the ice. He played in all situations and led a surprisingly competitive German squad with 6 assists in 7 games. His even +/- rating was remarkable given the amount of ice-time he logged for the team, as opponents did most of their damage when Seider was between shifts.

Upon returning to the AHL from the World Juniors, Seider continued his excellent play. He regularly logged over 20 minutes per game and played in all situations for the Griffins. He was confident, he played big, and he played smart. Seider’s blend of physicality and hockey IQ  made him an extremely valuable asset for a team in the midst of a playoff push. Seider made big hits without compromising defensive position and taking himself out of the play. He also ran the Griffin’s power play.

All of this as an 18-year-old rookie defenseman.

Seider finished the COVID-19 shortened season second among Griffin defensemen with 22 points. He was poised for an NHL call-up, and he earned it. Just as he forced his way onto Adler Mannheim as a 16-year-old, Mo was forcing Steve Yzerman’s hand just 2 years later.

The SHL 

This season, Seider has been loaned to Rögle BK, one of the top teams in the SHL. In his final season as a teenager, Seider is not only exceeding expectations — he’s shattering them.

Although a small sample size, Seider has 2 goals and 7 points through 8 games. He’s averaging almost 20 minutes per game. When looking at the advanced stats (via SvengelskaHockey – an amazing resource), his 5v5 CF% (Corsi For Percentage) of 64% is elite. His CF% Rel (Corsi Relative) of 9.3% shows that Rögle has been a significantly better hockey team with Seider on the ice. Remember, Rögle is a very good team. The fact that Seider is performing at a level that makes them this much better (again, as a 19-year-old) is phenomenal. To start the SHL season, he has proven to be a hugely impactful and invaluable defenseman on one of the best teams in the third-best hockey league in the world.

Yes, the SHL is a league more conducive to offense than the AHL, but Seider has once again been challenged with a new assignment and is thriving. His adaptable play has got to be encouraging. Plus, he’s still been doing a lot of this:

When playing on a smaller ice surface, he was the one taking ice away from opponents by turning up his physical play. After returning to the larger ice, he’s become a puck possession machine; generating scoring chances while suppressing his opponent’s attempts. Seider has played in all situations for a reason. He’s a damn good defenseman.

What Will Seider Ultimately Become?

Since being drafted by the Red Wings, Seider has done nothing but reaffirm that Steve Yzerman made the right call at 6th overall. You can go down the list of coveted attributes in a defenseman and Seider checks nearly every box. He’s supremely skilled, and he’s a rock defensively. Seider has played for three professional teams in three years and has not only held his own; he’s excelled. 

Most defensemen are projects. Most defensemen have warts defensively and need to learn structure, gap control, and defensive positioning. A lot of times, teams do reach and draft defensemen with offensive skill hoping they can iron out defensive deficiencies. Others draft rearguards who are mature defensively hoping they’ll grow a few inches, improve their skating, or develop some offensive instincts.

Moritz Seider is the rare defenseman who already possesses a very strong shut-down game. While most skilled defensemen need to work on their defensive game to take the next step (think Dennis Cholowski), Seider is already there. In addition, he’s big, strong, mobile, and has that elite hockey IQ. As he has shown this season, the offensive tools are there as well. From here, the question isn’t, “Will he be good enough to play in the NHL?” It’s, “Just how good will he be in the NHL?”

Seider may never become a number one defenseman in the NHL. It’s always important to temper expectations. Look at Victor Hedman, for example. He was involved in trade talks before breaking out as the best defenseman in the league. Until he’s an established NHLer, Seider’s ultimate offensive ceiling will remain the lingering question. Will he be a shutdown defender or will he drive offense like he’s done in Sweden?

Moritz Seider’s floor is that of a 2-way defenseman that settles in on the second pairing. A Top-4 blueliner who chips in a few goals and 15-20 helpers each season while playing a solid, steady defensive game.

His ceiling?

I’m of the belief that we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. If Seider is activated and given the go-ahead to use that elite hockey sense to take more risks and allow his skill and creativity to shine, I see Seider as being a borderline number one defenseman who ends up right around 50 points each season. A guy who runs the power play, kills penalties, and eats big minutes. A stalwart on the Red Wings blueline and leader for years to come.

The tools are there. It’s just a matter of Seider being given the freedom to play his game within the Red Wings’ system. Whether that’s Jeff Blashill’s system or a yet-to-be-determined future head coach of the Wings, it’s something that can’t be overlooked. Seider will also have to show confidence and conviction on the offensive side of his game. If given the opportunity, will he hesitate or take his game to another level yet again?

Final Thoughts

As the spread of COVID-19 has caused Rögle to postpone multiple games, Seider has been out of action since November 14. With the defenseman opting not to join Team Germany in Edmonton for the upcoming World Juniors, he’ll play out the rest of the SHL season uninterrupted. Well, aside from COVID postponements.

As soon as Rögle has completed their 2020-21 season, expect Seider to join the Red Wings. I just don’t see Seider returning to Grand Rapids. The Red Wings were planning to call up Seider last season, and he’s done nothing this season to indicate that plan should change.

Looking ahead, it’s unfair to tab Seider as a player who will be expected to step in and have a huge impact for the Red Wings from day 1. However, his game should translate well. If paired with a steady veteran like Patrik Nemeth or a healthy Danny Dekeyser, Seider should help the Wings immediately. 

The Red Wings are a terrible puck possession team and have been for a few years. Scrambling in the defensive zone, chipping the puck out instead of looking pass, and making other poor decisions have become all too common. These have been repeatable offenses for an awful Red Wings defensive unit.

Yes, the additions of Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher should help, as should the return of Dekeyser, but Seider can be…better. He should debut later this season and, barring a catastrophic run with the Wings, should stick long-term.

We questioned the draft pick. All of us. But Moritz Seider has always risen to the challenge and has made a habit of exceeding expectations. Let’s hope this continues when he gets the call to Detroit.

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