It took a couple of days to get this article from Kvallsposten’s Linus Vedmar, thanks to a very kind TMR reader who has a subscription to the paper, and since February 1st, a certain Moritz Seider has suffered a shoulder injury that appears to be likely to keep him out of action until the middle of the month.
That being said, the Rogle BK defenseman has had a superb season with the Southern Swedish SHL team, and Vedmar’s superb interview was worth roughly translating from Swedish. Enjoy:
“Going to the SHL has been the right step for me”
Moritz Seider joined Rogle in early October, and he’s become a key defender for the Scanians since then.
Already as a teenager, he left his hometown of Erfurt to invest himself wholehartedly in hockey with his favorite team, Adler Mannheim.
After the NHL draft, where he was selected by the classic Detroit Red Wings, and a short stay in Grand Rapids, Moritz Seider has become a dreaded name in Sweden.
Where he chases Swedish championship gold with Rogle.
“Our goal is to win the league and we have the team necessary to make it [happen],” says the successful defenseman, who is called by some “the new Niklas Kronwall.”
Once upon a time, Moritz Seider started his productive hockey career at a rink home in Erfurt, a city perhaps best-known for its particularly well-preserved architecture and its many churches.
It’s common knowledge that Erfurt is even called “Thuringia’s Rome.”
But it wasn’t at home that Moritz Seider would break through at the hockey rink. In fact, the 19-year-old had to leave his hometown early to look for new challenges.
Not even 15 years old, he and his family moved to Mannheim, a three-and-a-half-hour drive away. All so that Seider would have as good hockey conditions as possible.
“Mannheim is a real hockey city, and when I played there, the arena was often sold out, and the atmosphere was sick. It was great to be able to move there. Mannheim has always been my favorite team in the DEL. I’m still glad that I made the decision to move there. It was just right for me,” says Moritz, six years and three teams later.
You’ve only played in front of empty stands in Rogle, but has anyone told you what the atmosphere is usually like in Angelholm?
“Yes, I’ve heard that the fans are quite loud and that the atmosphere can be incredible. It would have been fun to experience it one day, but we can’t control this situation. We’re here to play hockey and perform every night, so people can watch us on TV.”
Only 19 years old, Moritz Seider has already played in 33 games in the German league and 32 in the Swedish equivalent. In addition, he’s played a year in the AHL as well, better known as the farm league for NHL teams.
“I would say that the German league differs from Sweden in that you don’t have to skate as much in Germany. If you have a stable team and good import players, you can be at the top of the league in Germany. The league isn’t as even as the SHL. Here, the worst team can always win against the best team,and you must always perform your ‘A Game,’” Moritz Seider explains.
“WE WORK WELL TOGETHER”
In fact, Moritz Seider wanted to move back to Germany this fall to represent Adler Mannheim again. But the German league was postponed due to the pandemic, and because of that, Seider ended up in Skane [Southern Sweden] and Angelholm.
“I had barely played a game in almost a whole year, so it wasn’t entirely easy for me to go straight into the SHL. But the guys made it easy for me, and nowadays I feel comfortable with my hockey game,” says Seider, who praises his defensive pair workhorse:
“I’ve had Eric Gelinas by my side and we work very well together. We have good chemistry, and I think that can be seen on the ice.”
During his 32 SHL games, Moritz Seider has stuck out on the ice with his fast-paced, skilled and partially physical game. Since he packed his bags and moved back to Europe, there have been over 20 points in the SHL—he is second among the defensemen in Rogle’s internal scoring.
So far, only the hard-hitting Eric Gelinas has produced more points.
“I think the SHL is very competitive and probably closest to the NHL right now. Every year you see young prospects who come to Sweden and move on to NHL teams,” says Seider.
“All the players in the SHL are good at skating and are skilled. It’s often about who makes the first mistake, and then you get a [scoring] chance. Then special teams are also important, especially here in Sweden.”
How much do you feel you’ve grown since you first came to Rogle?
“I feel that I’ve taken a big step now compared to when I was first here. But it means a lot that I’ve had an experienced partner to play with, and [Gelinas] helps me a lot. All the other players are awesome, too, it’s easy to blend in here.”
Already in the 2017-2018 season, Moritz Seider made his men’s team debut for an injured Adler Mannheim team, when he played 4 games in the regular season.
The following season, the big senior breakthrough awaited.
The then-17-year-old Moritz Seider took and cemented a spot on Mannheim, played 29 games in the regular season and another 14 in the playoffs. That season was, to say the least, a successful story that ended with Seider being allowed to lift the German championship trophy.”
DOESN’T WANT TO LOOK TOO FAR AHEAD
Shortly afterward, he flew to the United States and was selected by the classic team Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the draft.
Only five players were called before Seider, including Jack Hughes and defenseman Bowen Byram.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead, but hopefully I can earn a spot in the NHL some day. I live in the here and now, and I’m just happy to be with Rogle,” says a humble Moritz Seider, who spent last year with the Red Wings’ Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL.
“I think the biggest difference between the SHL and AHL is on special teams. If you have a good power play, it will save several games for your team in Sweden. In addition, you have more time with the puck here in Sweden.”
What do you prefer, the large rink or the small rink?
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter much. I just want to play hockey and am happy to do it.”
How much contact do you have with Detroit right now, when you’re on loan in Sweden?
“We have constant contact, but it doesn’t have to be on a daily basis. We talk a lot about my games and certain situations that arise during the games.”
SPORTS DIRECTOR: “INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO US”
It was early in October that Rogle had confirmed that the team had gotten Moritz Seider for the rest of the season on a loan [from Detroit]. Here and there, the hockey winter was still young, and the Scanians had played 4 SHL games and won 3.
With a little more than half of the regular season now completed, sports director [GM] Chris Abbott can start looking back at a successful deposit, to say the least.
Who may have a lot left to give.
“Moritz has been incredible for us. He’s already shown that he’s one of the most important defensemen in the entire league. He’s a great guy to work with and his future in Detroit looks bright,” says Chris Abbott.
I can imagine that the Red Wings are quite happy with lending him to you?
“Yes, I can imagine that, too. But what is said between us and the Red Wings stays between us, and it’s not something I can comment upon. But yes, they’ve appreciated the opportunities Moritz has given us, and we’ve both benefited from the situation.”
Once the NHL debut for the Detroit Red Wings is achieved, Moritz Seider will join a team where the Swedish Wings teams have echoed loudly over the years.
For example, no one is allowed to wear the #5—Nicklas Lidstrom’s old jersey when he belonged to the Red Wings between 1991 and 2012. Two Swedish legends, Henrik Zettterberg and Niklas Kronwall, also had long and successful careers in the car city of Detroit.
“Moritz is in his third year as a professional player, so I would not really say that he’s a rookie any more, but he is new in our league and I have to give a lot of praise to our coaches, where Cory Murphy (defensive coach in Rogle) worked a lot with Seider during the year,” says Chris Abbott.
That you can borrow a player of Moritz Seider’s caliber on loan, do you think that it might be possible in the future as well, or is this a temporary opportunity that only exists now during the pandemic when many other leagues are barely getting started?
“I think that it’s most likely temporary. The NHL teams have their farm teams in the AHL and when the seasons can start as usual again, I think that’s where the NHL teams want to send their young players.”
AIMS TO WIN THE REGULAR SEASON
But the Angelholm audience can continue to enjoy Moritz Seider’s hockey game for a while longer.
The season itself has been a very different story due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with a virus that has sometimes reversed the game calendar altogether. When Rogle got the virus on the team’s roster in November, a long series of games were postponed—including a derby against the [nearby] Malmo Redhawks.
As a result of the rescheduled games, Rogle’s calendar has been intense to say the least during both December and January.
“We have had some injuries and it’s difficult to compensate for that. But the goal is to win the league, and we have the team needed to do it. The coming games will be difficult, and we have a big challenge ahead of us in trying to lead the league when the regular season ends, and when it is time for the playoffs,” says Seider.
You have 20 points in just over 30 games. Has it gone better than you thought it would?
“You always want it to go as well as it does right now. I’m just super happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the second half of the season. It will be an interesting time because the league is even and we have big games ahead of us.”
Are you starting to feel that you might be ready for NHL hockey?
“Definitely not. When I see how high the level is in the NHL, I also understand how big the steps are that I need to take. But I’m on the right track, and it’s a matter of time now. The coming summer will be important for me,” says Moritz Seider, who concludes:
“Going to the SHL has been the right step for me. I have earned a lot of playing time and a lot of confidence from being here. Hopefully I can be ready for the very highest level next season, and earn a spot on the Red Wings.”