Red Wings 2020-21 Midseason Top 20 Prospects

By Jeff Watters

March 27, 2021

Welcome to my first midseason ranking of the Detroit Red Wings top 20 prospects. In this updated look at the Wings prospect pipeline, you’ll notice three new faces, a couple of graduations, and a new-look top 5.

(If you’d like to jump right into the midseason Top 20: Red Wings 2020-21 Midseason Top 20 Prospects)

To say it’s been a unique season would be putting it mildly. 

In a typical year, my midseason rankings should be expected to come out, well, midseason (January to be specific). But with some leagues recently surpassing the halfway point, others approaching it, and many gearing up for playoff hockey, there was never going to be a perfect time to release the updated Top 20. 

So, here we are.

In addition to being unique, it’s been an exciting season for Red Wings prospects. After adding some serious talent to the pipeline via the NHL Entry Draft in October, the Red Wings have watched a number of players in the organization take some major steps forward.

Moritz Seider has put together one of the best U20 seasons by a defenseman in SHL history and is knocking on the door. Meanwhile, Jonatan Berggren has played at a near-point-per-game pace and been one of the most dangerous forwards in the same league.

A couple of 2020 3rd round picks, Eemil Viro and Donovan Sebrango have impressed in the 5 months that have followed the draft and seen their stocks rise as a result (Sebrango has already secured an entry-level contract with the Wings). 

Elmer Söderblom has dazzled with his ridiculous hands and Chara-like reach, while Keith Petruzzelli has been among the most reliable goaltenders in college hockey.

It hasn’t all been positive, however. 2018 2nd round pick Jared McIsaac suffered yet another shoulder injury — this time, his left shoulder — and will be rehabbing for the remainder of the season. Otto Kivenmäki has been troubled by a groin injury since late January. Lucas Raymond, the team’s #1 prospect, reaggravated an elbow injury that required minor surgery last month and will be watching from the sidelines as Frölunda eyes another SHL championship.

The Criteria

A small change here. Previously, I included all players 24-years-old or younger who had yet to establish themselves as NHL regulars. This time around — and moving forward — all players must meet the following criteria to be eligible for preseason and midseason rankings:

For midseason eligibility:

  • Not considered an NHL regular*
  • Skaters — 23-years-old or younger by Red Wings Pipeline’s next preseason rankings (September)
  • Goalies — 25-years-old or younger by Red Wings Pipeline’s next preseason rankings (September)

For preseason eligibility:

  • Not considered an NHL regular*
  • Skaters — 23-years-old or younger by Red Wings Pipeline’s next midseason rankings (January)
  • Goalies — 25-years-old or younger  by Red Wings Pipeline’s next midseason rankings (January)

*This is subjective. For a player to be considered an NHL regular, he must be very clearly done with all other levels of pro hockey. If there is the possibility a player could be sent down to the minor leagues for further development he will still be considered a prospect.

To give you an example, Filip Zadina (21) and Filip Hronek (23) will not be on this list. Both Filips are in the NHL to stay and are very clearly NHL regulars.

Conversely, Michael Rasmussen (21) and Dennis Cholowski (23) are on this list. Both have played a ton of NHL games, but have yet to establish themselves over a long period of time. If either were sent down to Grand Rapids tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised. With that being said, if Cholowski and Rasmussen remain with Detroit for the rest of the season, there’s a good chance they won’t be on this list come September.

Again, this part of my ranking is arbitrary. There’s really no getting around it — unless I follow the NHL’s rookie guidelines. And that doesn’t translate well to what we’re looking at here.

As with my preseason ranking, the midseason ranking of these prospects is based on the following: NHL upside (the level of impact a player could have at the NHL level); the probability the prospect will become an NHL regular; and the prospect’s recent performance. 

A Breakdown of the Red Wings Top 20 

The Red Wings are in a good spot prospect-wise. The organization has done well to identify players with upside, while very clearly taking a best-player-available approach in recent drafts. 

Undoubtedly, the Red Wings still need that game-breaking, franchise talent, but they’ve positioned themselves well for the future with one of the strongest systems in the NHL.

Biggest Jump:

Eemil Viro (2020-21 Preseason: NR | Midseason: 14) — Viro’s advanced defensive game, speed, and puck-moving ability have contributed to his jump in the midseason ranking. If the 18-year-old can take similar steps next season, don’t be surprised to see him land in the top 10.

Biggest Drop: 

Chase Pearson (2020-21 Preseason: 20 | Midseason: NR) — It’s important not to read too much into a midseason drop, especially in this case. Pearson has had a very nice start to the 2021 season with 5 goals and 9 points in 11 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins. The big, physical centre may not have a clear path to the NHL with the Red Wings, but he’s a hard-working pivot who could get an opportunity in 2021-22. This drop is more a testament to the performance of others in the organization.

Graduations from the Top 20

Evgeny Svechnikov, RW/LW
Taro Hirose, LW/RW

The Top 5

  1. Lucas Raymond
  2. Moritz Seider
  3. Jonatan Berggren
  4. Albert Johansson
  5. Joe Veleno

The Complete Top 20 >>

Breakdown by position:

C: 4 | LW/RW: 6 | D: 9 | G: 1

Breakdown by country:

Sweden: 7 | Canada: 6 | Finland: 3 | USA: 3 | Germany: 1

Breakdown by ETA:

2021: 3 | 2021-22: 3 | 2022-23: 3 | 2023-24: 8 | 2024-25: 3

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