On Monday, the Free Press’s Helene St. James submitted her best estimate of the Red Wings’ opening-night roster, and this morning, WDIV’s David Bartkowiak Jr. engages in a similar task.
Bartkowiak Jr. also takes note of some of the prospects in the Red Wings’ system who may make the team at some point during the 2019-2020 season (if not in 20-21), and I believe that he offers a good estimate of said prospects’ progress and relative worth:
Taro Hirose (LW): Hirose left Michigan State late last season and signed with the Red Wings. In his first 10 NHL games he scored a goal and 6 assists. He did not look like a rookie just out of college. He looked very ready for the pros. He’s 23 years old now, and he looks like a legitimate pro hockey player. He could be spending some time in Grand Rapids this year, but he appears to be the type of player who has the mind for the NHL. He is strong in all areas of the ice, responsible with the puck and, well, he’s a good freaking hockey player who didn’t get drafted due to his size — 5-10, 160 pounds. He put up 50 points in 36 games played with the Spartans last year.
Ryan Kuffner (LW): Kuffner, 23, also joined the Red Wings out of college this past season. The product of Princeton played in 10 games at the end of the season but didn’t record a point. He’s another guy who got passed up in the draft and came to Detroit for a chance to play. We shall see. He’s listed at 6-1, 195 pounds.
Joe Veleno (C): Fans want Veleno in the Red Wings lineup right now, but he hasn’t played a second of pro hockey. He will be in Grand Rapids at the start of this season — I think that’s a pretty safe bet. But everyone is so hyped about him because of the type of player he is. He also scored 104 points in 59 games played this past season in the QMJHL. He is a part of the future for Detroit, but right now Nielsen, Filppula and Glendening are in his way. And that’s OK. There is no real reason to rush him right now. He’s 19. Let him get used to a new level first. One step at a time.
Bartkowiak Jr. continues at length.