The Detroit Red Wings’ prospects possess a 1-0-and-1 record after defeating the St. Louis Blues 7-3 on Saturday, assuaging Friday’s 5-4 OT loss to Chicago and setting up quite the tilt on Monday, when the Wings will face the 2-and-0 Toronto Maple Leafs (at 6 PM EDT; Toronto has beaten St. Louis 6-2 Friday and then Chicago 6-3 on Saturday).
If you want to watch the game yourself, the Wings posted it on YouTube:
To some extent, the Red Wings have been as lucky as they’ve been good: their power play went 3-for-5 on Friday and 3-for-8 on Saturday, with Joe Veleno scoring 2 goals during each game, and they’ve out-shot their opponents 63-43, so it’s been Detroit’s offense that’s carried the day over the course of a 12-7 scoring binge.
On Saturday, Ryan Kuffner also continued a strong tournament with another goal-and-an-assist performance, Filip Zadina had 3 assists (giving him 4 for the tournament), and Givani Smith had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in the form of a goal, an assist, and a fight.
The Wings are flexing their muscles in front of a packed house of fans, a jam-packed “scouts’ lounge” of amateur and pro scouts from around North America and, of course, a full “owners’ suite” lined with executives both old and new to Red Wings’ front office.
MLive’s Ansar Khan did a fine job of writing a narrative recap…
Veleno scored twice on the power play in a span of 39 seconds midway through the third period to give the Red Wings a 5-2 lead. He has scored three of Detroit’s six power-play goals thus far.
Filip Zadina, the club’s first selection in 2018 (No. 6), picked up three assists, giving him four points (all assists) in two games. Ryan Kuffner and Givani Smith each had a goal and an assist. Smith, the big, abrasive forward who’ll be starting his second AHL season, had a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick,” as he fought Tyler Tucker late in the second period.
Kuffner, also competing for an NHL roster spot, scored his second power-play goal in as many games – both have been assisted by top 2019 pick Moritz Seider – to spark a three-goal outburst in a span of 1:51 midway through the second period. Defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and Smith also scored, giving the Red Wings a 3-1 lead.
Jarid Lukosevicius, with his second goal in as many games, and Chase Pearson wrapped up the scoring for Detroit.
The Red Wings outshot the Blues (0-2) 32-19. Sean Romero, a free-agent invitee from Ohio State, made 16 saves for Detroit. Filip Larsson, the organization’s top goaltending prospect, is out with what the club described as a minor groin injury.
The St. Louis Blues’ website issued a brief recap of its own…
Game 2: Blues 3, Red Wings 7
Robby Jackson scored in his second consecutive game for the Blues prospects, but St. Louis dropped their game against the Red Wings 7-3 on Saturday. 2019 Draft pick Keean Washkurak and Austin Poganski (power play) scored the Blues’ other goals. In net, Colten Ellis made 25 saves on 32 shots.
As did the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas…
The Blues’ prospects allowed seven goals over the final two periods Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings, turning a 1-0 first-period lead into a 7-3 loss at Centre Ice Arena. (The Blues led Toronto 2-1 after the first period on Friday only to lose 6-2.)
Detroit, 1-0-1 in the tournament, scored three power play goals. The Blues were whistled for seven penalties, including a five-minute major against defenseman Tyler Tucker late in the second period and a double-minor against Keean Washkurak early in the third.
The Blues scored a goal in each period, in order, by Washkurak, Austin Poganski and Robby Jackson. Colent Ellis, a third-round draft pick by the Blues this June, faced 32 shots in goal.
Update: DetroitRedWings.com’s Arthur J. Regner
Dana Wakiji also weighed in via a “Trending” recap:
Joe Veleno: When Veleno was drafted in the first round, 30th overall, in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, a knock against him was he didn’t have an NHL-caliber shot. It was characterized as an accurate shot, but it wasn’t hard and the release needed to be quicker. Whether Veleno took the criticism to heart is debatable, but he has shown in the first two games his release is quick and his shot is hard and accurate. He has scored four power-play goals in two games and when the Wings needed a player to emerge against the Blackhawks and Blues, Veleno has been that player. Veleno is determined to make the Red Wings out of training camp and he’s making a strong case for himself.
Quotable: “I don’t want to say they’re (the critics) wrong. I think I’ve come a long way with my shot. It wasn’t something I was terrible at, I just never really shot the puck as often as I do now. So I guess they’ve never really seen my shot, how hard or how accurate it could be at times. I have more of a shooting mentality and I think that’s what I have to do now. I think I’ve always had a pretty good shot. I don’t think it was something I was terrible at. I never really shot the puck, always looked for the passes. As I realize you got to shoot the puck when you get to the next level. You’re not always going to make those pretty plays, so just put the puck on net and see what happens.” — Veleno
Also of note, from Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff:
Like many young players, Zadina tends to over think the game at times. He’s also passing up shooting opportunities to feed the puck to teammates, another common trait of younger players. But the Wings didn’t draft the goal-scoring right-winger sixth overall in 2018 for him to be unselfish with the puck.
“He’s got a heck of a shot,” Simon said. “Our message to him is to shoot the puck when he can. Sometimes he gets in the mode of maybe thinking pass too much. He’s gotta shoot the puck.
“He’s a natural goal scorer. But he can also pass the puck, so we don’t want to limit him or make him a one-dimensional player. He’s a smart enough player to figure out when to make plays. We give him a little bit of structure. We let him be creative. We’re trying to make him grow as a player.”
After the game, I posted post-game audio clips of Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Gustav Lindstrom and Ben Simon on SoundCloud, and the Wings posted a video version thereof:
On a player-by-player basis, here are my observations of the players who participated in tonight’s game between the Red Wings and Blues, with the caveat being that this is a tournament between 18-to-24-year-old players who possess various levels of professional experience:
#67 Taro Hirose “A”: Hirose registered an assist on Friday and an assist on Saturday, posting a helper on the 5-2 PPG; on Friday, I raved about his skill set and status as a very visible leader both on and off the ice; on Saturday, he was more muted in his performance, but the 5’10,” 160-pound forward acquitted himself well in subtler ways.
Hirose’s skating is a bit skittery, and he’s stocky, but not big…But he manages to get around the ice just fine, and as a rookie who’s also 23 years of age, he displays maturity in stick battles and in anticipating plays so that he manages to get the upper hand when leveraging for time and space in tight quarters. He’s not had a, “Holy shit, wow!” tournament, but he’s been very good as he prepares to battle for a spot on the Wings’ roster at training camp.
#90 Joe Veleno: Veleno is also aiming to wrest a roster spot from a veteran at training camp and over the course of the exhibition season. So far, so good–he’s posted 4 goals on a team-leading 11 shots, and the 19-year-old Quebec native has flipped the script on the Veleno-Zadina connection, serving as the recipient of apt passes from a noted goal-scorer.
I’m most impressed about two things from Veleno–his poise and his skating. He plays with a level of maturity that’s nearly professional in nature, and the 6’1,” 191-pound Drummondville Voltigeurs captain skates at an elite level, affording him the necessary room to unleash what is a superb shot, better passing skills, and a great sense of where he is and where his teammates are on the ice. Veleno is also a dogged player defensively, winning draws by chomping down on his stick (he all but wins faceoffs with his hand on his stick blade) and using his skating skills and strength to win battles for control of the puck.
He’s mature off the ice as well, speaking with a politician’s grace and magnanimity.
#11 Filip Zadina: There’s “Zadina’s tournament, the good” and “Zadina’s tournament, the not-so-good.” When you’re a player who’s posted 4 assists over the course of 2 games, and have fired 7 shots on goal, you’re not doing too badly for yourself, and Zadina has looked very comfortable with the pace and intensity of play at the tournament, which wasn’t necessarily the case last year at this time. For a marked man–and he is marked as a scoring threat–Zadina is getting up and down the ice and in and out of traffic with ease, and he looks dynamic and dangerous out there.
When he’s not trying to take shots from his favorite spot on the ice, the right faceoff circle, he’s displayed a surprisingly elite level of playmaking ability in addition to his fine skating and vision; the problem is that Zadina is spending far too much time, energy and effort trying to score quite specifically from his favorite spot on the ice, and that’s frustrating to watch given that he has a year of pro experience under his belt.
Coach Ben Simon suggested that Zadina is someone who can get frustrated easily, and that the scoring issue may be in Zadina’s head more than his stick or shot. It’s an interesting theory, and as much as the Wings’ prospects need Zadina to find his goal-scoring touch, Simon reminds us that the prospect tournament isn’t the be-all-end-all. Instead, it’s the beginning of a process for these prospects, and it’s important to remember that.
#78 Gregor MacLeod*: For an AHL signing out of Veleno’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, MacLeod has acquitted himself very well in a top-six role. An assist and 3 shots over the course of two games does not an 84-point QMJHL season duplicate, but the 6,’ 183-pound center-and-wing has looked sharp in all three zones while displaying zero trepidation regarding the level or pace of play. He skates well.
#85 Elmer Soderblom: I was somewhat shocked to see the Wings’ fourth-line center on Friday become the second-line center on Saturday, but the move worked out just fine for the still-raw and probably still-growing 6’7,” 220-pound Frolunda Indians product. Soderblom has moments when he dekes around opponents nearly his size and makes you wonder if there’s star potential in there, and there are moments when the North American game is still a 2-game experiment for an 18-year-old, but he’s remarkably polished for a big man. Most skaters his size at his age are gangly and uncoordinated; you notice how smoothly Soderblom rags the puck up and down the ice in tight spaces, and he can levy a hit now and then, too. Much raw potential here.
#56 Ryan Kuffner: Kuffner still gets the “he’s not selfish enough” complaint from me, despite the fact that he’s posted 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points registered over the course of 2 games played. The 6’1,” 195-pound forward looks smaller and more slight than his stats would indicate, but he’s holding his own physically; Kuffner is not a Hirose-or-Veleno-level skater, but he gets around the ice efficiently, and his shot and passing/playmaking skills are equally superb, with a nod toward playmaking because he is so conscientious regarding attempting to set up his teammates for beautiful goals before shooting the puck himself. You’d expect to see a mature game from the 23-year-old graduate of Princeton, and he’s played mature hockey. That may not be enough to earn him a spot in Detroit out of training camp, but he remains a strong prospect and cerebral player.
#48 Givani Smith “A”: Self-improvement over the course of time. That’s Givani Smith’s M.O., and the 6’2,” 206-pound behemoth sure displayed a level of awareness that now is the time to shine on Saturday. Smith scored an elegant back-door goal on a pass from Chase Pearson, he registered an assist of his own late in the game, and in between, he was physical and edgy all night long, ultimately engaging in a short fight with Tyler Tucker. If Smith hadn’t lost his balance and fell, he was beginning to land some haymakers, so the bout was just getting started when it ended…
But the message was sent, and he sent the, “Don’t mess with our players” message regularly through his physical play. Givani is a better skater than he gets credit for being, and as he’s gained both strength and experience, he’s working his ass off to ensure that the Red Wings don’t forget him as a fourth-line winger when he can be something more down the line. Maybe not the next Tyler Bertuzzi, but certainly a useful agitating, instigating winger.
#46 Chase Pearson “A”: Pearson’s posted a goal and an assist over the course of two games, and he’s second on the team with 9 shots, so there’s no demurring in the 22-year-old Maine product’s game. The 6’2,” 200-pound Pearson has generally been a dutiful and enthusiastic shut-down center, working to helm the third line through hard work and detail-oriented defensive skills, but he posted 29 points over the course of his final 34 NCAA games, so he’s got a solid offensive skill set.
I enjoy watching him work, and I believe that the Red Wings’ long list of defensive forwards will gain a strong addition as Pearson joins a crowded fray battling to win a fourth-line center’s spot in Detroit down the line. For the moment, Pearson looks like a great Griffin in the making.
#76 Jarid Lukosevicius*: Luk-o-sev-is-us. That’s how his name’s been pronounced, and Grand Rapids Griffins or Toledo Walleye fans might want to start learning it. The 5’10,” 185-pound AHL signing from Denver has scored two crucial goals and added an assist for 3 points over the course of two games played, and he’s played like a 24-year-old should–calm, composed and savvy as a senior player among his peers. Lukosevicius is trying to shake things up and earn an AHL spot out of camp.
#62 Cody Morgan**: Wild hair, Bauer stick, big goal? Not quite, but the 5’11,” 183-pound Flint Firebirds forward, initially credited with Gustav Lindstrom’s 2-1 goal, acquitted himself solidly while working on the Wings’ fourth line. He posted a point per game during his final 33 OHL games this past season, and the free agent try-out at least looked fast and capable of handling himself.
#42 Mathieu Bizier**: Bizier had an assist on the Lindstrom goal, but he gets a shrug of the shoulders from me. The 6’1,” 187-pound center from Gatineau of the QMJHL didn’t exactly duplicate his hat trick at the summer development camp, but he didn’t look lost, either. The Wings’ third and fourth lines were a little shaky on Friday vs. Chicago, and they were at least better on Saturday vs. the Blues. Bizier played a part in that.
#89 Owen Robinson**: Among the trio of free agent invites on the fourth line, Robinson stood out the least, registering a shot. The 6,’ 170-pound Sudbury Wolves forward was not a detriment to his team, but he did not necessarily look like an asset.
#94 Alec Regula: Regula has a hard job in playing alongside a defenseman who doesn’t really have a “side”–Seider is a bit of a wild stallion at 18, skating wherever the puck goes–and Regula has done an admirable job of neither making himself nor Seider look like anything less than assets to the team as a pair of reliable first-pair defenders. Regula projects as a second-pair defender, but he’s going into his final season with the London Knights hoping to become an offensive leader, and it will be intriguing to see how far the 6’4,” 203-pound righty can push the envelope.
He skates excellently, he gaps up and bumps and grinds with a slightly physical flair, he’s got a good shot and a better pass, and his sense of positioning is superb. Can he build himself into an offensive defenseman instead of a utility player? Like Givani Smith, it’s going to be up to Regula to continue to develop and force the Wings to see more of him than a safe signing for depth.
#53 Moritz Seider: The free-spirited, free-flowing Moritz Seider is certainly a character off the ice and a phenomenon on the ice, and he’s only 18. Just as was the case on Friday, Seider was all over the ice and all over the map in terms of his elite skill set combining with a somewhat reckless (in a good way) mentality yielding more offensive chances for than scoring chances against, and while it was only his second competitive game on North American ice, Seider did a lot less swimming out there, literally and figuratively.
The 6’4,” 207-pound defenseman with a funny little toe curve on his stick and a funny way of ragging it along the ice has displayed a near-Veleno-like level of skating abilities, forward, backward and laterally; he passes superbly, sees the ice well, generally knows when to carry the puck himself, and when to distribute it to a streaking forward instead; he’s got a hard, accurate shot, good offensive instincts, and there is a physical flair to him that is underrated. He’s still very raw, but possesses a season’s worth of professional hockey under his belt, so nothing intimidates him, and that’s really cool to see in a sport where most prospects aren’t willing to be as cocky or as dynamic as Seider is simply because that’s how his clock runs.
We’ll see what Moritz can bring as the future unfolds. I believe he’s heading back to Germany for one more pro season, but Moritz has other plans.
#86 Charle-Edouard D’Astous*: Better. The 6’2,” 205-pound Quebec League scoring machine (and Grand Rapids Griffins signing) acquitted himself far better in his second near-professional-level game, playing steadier, simpler and stronger hockey. D’Astous is a puck lugger and passer of the first order, but there are some holes in his smooth-skating game. His results are good, having posted two assists in two games, and there are moments when that 66-points-in-56-games season with Rimouski last season seem to translate to a start to his professional carer in the AHL and not the ECHL.
#28 Gustav Lindstrom: Lindstrom, like Seider, is a superbly-talented skater and astute puck-handling defenseman who can and hopefully will anchor a first or second pairing on the Red Wings’ blueline someday. The 6’2,” 187-pound graduate of the Frolunda Indians is a young 21 and is turning North American pro with little to no experience on North American ice, but his “hockey IQ” is equal to his ability to pass, carry the puck, shoot hard (scoring a gorgeous goal on Saturday) and defend just as well with a smart stick and great gap control. There are inconsistencies, and he’s not as heavy or strong as he’s going to be in a couple of seasons, but he’s going to squeeze his way onto a crowded Grand Rapids blueline, and from there, he should ascend the ranks with poise and resolve.
Lindstrom was also smart enough to point out that the Red Wings haven’t started well over the course of the past two games, and it was neat to hear him speak up and speak out about what his team needs to do better given how shy and reserved he appears.
#87 Marc-Olivier Duquette**: Duquette was brought in as a free agent invite from Veleno’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, and the safe, steady 6’4″ defenseman provided much the same kind of hard-and-spartan defense that Alec McCrea provided on Friday. Duquette had few frills to his game, but he skated well for a man of his lanky size, and the 205-pound defender was hard and heavy to play against.
#98 Owen Lalonde**: Lalonde looked a little less certain on the blueline. While the 6’1,” 185-pound Guelph Storm defender earned a free agent invite for a strong pair of draft year seasons, the superb-skating righty got banged around from time to time. Lalonde was adequate but not great, and the Wings’ coaching staff may opt for more size on Monday.
#68 Sean Romeo**: 19 shots, 16 saves, few complaints. Romeo comes to the Wings as something of an oddity. The free agent invite has a contract–with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones–but he was allowed to come to the Red Wings’ camp to better himself, and with Filip Larsson sidelined and Kaden Fulcher having displayed ups and downs on Friday night, coach Simon and his staff chose to see what the 24-year-old Ohio State graduate had to bring to the mix. What the 6’1,” 172-pound goaltender brought was calm, steady play in an athletic modern butterfly style. What that means in English is that he possesses a very good glove hand, a strong blocker, his upper body is square to the puck the vast majority of the time, his legs can boot out hard rebounds and his stick was quite adequate as he used his positioning over size to safely tend the Wings’ net. He was not outstanding and was not poor, but he was far better than average.
#36 Kaden Fulcher: Fulcher will probably dial back into the net on Monday, and the 6’3,” 182-pound ECHL sophomore will need to have pucks stick to him the way they stick to Romeo, playing a little less dramatically along the way. Fulcher is an extremely athletic goaltender who tends to “battle” pucks into himself via flourishing glove saves or staggering toe jabs, but when he’s patient and plays within himself, his skill set shines. When he’s not, sure, sometimes the dramatic saves happen, but every once in a while, a squeaker gets through a hole, too, and with more time and play against strong opponents, I believe that Fulcher has the skill set (see: glove, blocker, stick, body, butterfly, quick knees and toes, good skating, smart stickhandling, general positioning and puck sense) to improve significantly in terms of his consistency and results.
#38 Filip Larsson, G: Between you and me, the fact that the Wings don’t have Filip Larsson this year gave me the same feeling that I felt when Jared McIsaac first injured his shoulder last year at this time–“Oh hell, there goes a difference-maker that could bring them the trophy.” Larsson is an elitely-talented goaltender whose circuitous developmental path brings him to a turning-pro season in which the 6’2,” 181-pound goaltender should fight his way into the back-up’s spot behind Calvin Pickard in Grand Rapids. Larsson’s groin is acting up a bit, so he’s had to re-set his sights for training camp instead of the prospect tournament, and at training camp, I expect a Seider-like dearth of intimidation factor at the fact that NHL shooters will be firing upon him.
#63 Alec McCrea, D*: I fully expect McCrea to dial back into the lineup on Monday. The 6’3,” 212-pound Grand Rapids Griffins signing was effective and useful as a shut-down defender on Friday, and the Cornell grad will know what’s expected of him if he gets the call.
#75 Troy Loggins, LW*: At 5’9″ and 161 pounds, Loggins got bumped around a bit on Friday, and the Northern Michigan graduate and Grand Rapids Griffins signing will need to grasp opportunity by the horns if the scoring forward can get his way back into the lineup.
#79 Thomas Casey, LW**: Full of enthusiasm and vigor, the pint-sized 5’8,” 185-pound Charlottetown Islanders forward displayed spirit galore while skating a grinding forward’s game on Friday, and he’ll be more than capable of holding his own against bigger competition in a fourth-line role, should his number be called.
#80 Anthony Popovich, G**: Popovich is essentially at camp as a practice goaltender, and the 6’1,” 182-pound Guelph Storm goaltender intrigues me because, like Fulcher, he can win games despite having a sub-par save percentage. Was that a product of his fine team in the OHL’s champion Guelph Storm, or is there more to Popovich’s game?
#88 Chad Yetman, F**: The free agent forward from the Erie Otters stands at 5’11” and 176 pounds, and while he posts point-per-game stats at the OHL level, he looked to be in over his head on Friday. As a result, he sat on Saturday.
#97 Gustav Berglund, D: Berglund got the short end of the stick for steadiness’ sake, but the 2019 draft pick and 6’2,” 187-pound Frolunda Indians prospect impressed me with his communication skills on Friday, as well as a solid skill set. Very raw, he and Soderblom are going back to the J20 league this fall.
Note: * = Grand Rapids Griffins signing, ** = Free agent invite.
I hope you have enjoyed my prospect assessments and the rest of my blog coverage.
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