The Detroit News’s Nolan Bianchi was at USA Hockey Arena yesterday for a day of team practices at the World Junior Summer Showcase, and he spoke with Wings prospects Carter Mazur, Cross Hanas and Theodor Niederbach about their respective journeys as prospects hoping to make the Red Wings one day.
For Hanas, who’s playing on Team USA Blue, playing in the USHL while the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks were on hiatus served as an educational process:
The 19-year-old Hanas was forced across the border to get playing time in the USHL. His point production dipped considerably over 27 games, as the prolific scorer netted just three goals. The reason, he said, was apparent almost immediately.
“It was way more defensive-oriented teams,” Hanas said. “Right away, it was like, ‘Oh man, this is different.'”
That was a far cry from the goal-happy WHL and hindered the style of game he’d become accustomed to. But as far as fulfilling his NHL dreams, it was the exact shift in perspective that he needed.
Anybody who watched Jeff Blashill’s Red Wings in 2021 — and the unceremonious end to Evgeny Svechnikov’s tenure in Detroit — could tell you that was never going to fly at the next level. He was told that bluntly by the Red Wings development staff, and seems to have taken it to heart.
“In Portland, I’ve never even been a penalty killer, and it’s going to be my fourth season, so I’m hoping to get there this season,” he said. “It does feel pretty good” to come up with stops instead of making the highlight-reel play. Sometimes it’s like, well this is — I can get used to this a little bit.”
Bianchi continues, and Hanas has been used as a penalty-killer this week by Team USA–and he looks good doing it.