Impressions from the Red Wings’ 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues at the 2021 prospect tournament

Oh, man, this was a frustrating one.

The Detroit Red Wings’ prospects dropped a 5-2 decision to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, and it was a difficult night all around for the Red Wings’ youngsters, who stand at 1-and-1 going into tomorrow’s tournament finale opposite the Columbus Blue Jackets (6 PM EDT on the Red Wings’ YouTube channel).

Despite Lucas Raymond’s pair of goals, Sebastian Cossa, perhaps as expected, had a bit of a bumpy outing as the big, mean and talented Blues pounded upon the Wings from the opening faceoff, and the Blues built up a 3-1 first-period lead that they would never relinquish as Cossa found his sea legs.

Things got worse for the Wings in the injury department as Jonatan Berggren and Patrick Curry took heavy hits and left the ice in pain, with Berggren finishing out the first period and then sitting out the rest of the game. Joe Veleno at least told the media that he was going to speak with Berggren post-game, but coach Ben Simon had no updates on the prized center…

And when you’re down to ten forwards, the forwards that remain in the lineup are passing instead of shooting (Detroit was out-shot 30-24, and I’d argue that that’s a generous total on the shot clock for the Wings), your power play is a mess (0-for-5) and your PK is porous (3-for-6)…Donovan Sebrango’s first-period fight at 13:36 was the non-Lucas Raymond highlight of the night.

Here’s how MLive’s Ansar Khan wrote it up

Lucas Raymond scored a pair of goals for the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-2 loss Saturday to the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Prospects Tournament at Centre I.C.E. Arena in Traverse City.

Raymond, the club’s top pick in 2020 (No. 4 overall), has three goals in two games.

He tied the game at 1-1 at 8:45 of the first period on a close-range shot from a sharp angle. He scored again at 11:30 of the third to cut the Blues’ lead to 4-2.

Sebastian Cossa, the 15th selection in this year’s draft, allowed five goals on 30 shots, going the distance in his first and what is expected to be only appearance of the tournament.

Jonatan Berggren was injured in the first period and missed the remainder of the game. Griffins coach Ben Simon had no update immediately after the game. Berggren, on the top line with Raymond and Joe Veleno, was dumped behind the Blues net on his left side. He clutched his left arm as he skated to the bench.

And here’s the Detroit News’s recap:

First-round draft pick Lucas Raymond scored two goals in the Detroit Red Wings’ 5-2 loss against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at the 2021 NHL Prospects Tournament at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.

Raymond, who had a team-high four shots and was plus-1, leads the Red Wings with three goals in two games. Joe Veleno and Jared McIsaac added assists and goalie Sebastian Cossa allowed five goals on 30 shots.

Scott Perunovich led St. Louis with one goal and two assists. Keegan Washkurak, Hugh McGing, Jake Neighbours and Riley Ginnell scored the other goals and goalie Ellis Colten stopped 22 of 24 shots.

The Red Wings did post their webcast of the game on their YouTube channel…

And after the game, defenseman Donovan Sebrango and forward Joe Veleno spoke with the media…

As did coach Ben Simon…

Who also spoke with DetroitRedWings.com’s Carley Johnston:

In terms of my impressions of the players and the team, they’re a little less generous than they were on Thursday evening; the Wings were shaky at times, from the goal crease on out, and the big, physical Blues were all too happy to not only capitalize on their scoring opportunities, but also take their “pound of flesh” from a smaller, leaner and younger Red Wings team.

The Red Wings attempted to respond in kind, as illustrated by Sebrango’s fight, but the shorthanded Wings lost their net-front drive without Berggren and Curry aiding their forward lineup, and they spent too much of their comeback attempts working on cutesy plays and lateral passes or by pushing pucks back to the point–Raymond and Veleno included–so the Blues were all too happy to run out the clock and run over the occasional Red Wing along the way.

Overall, their performance simply wasn’t good enough, and playing against the high-flying Blue Jackets will serve as a fine test of Detroit’s energy reserves and resolve when the teams clash tomorrow evening.

Lineup:

Forwards:

#23 Lucas Raymond–#90 Joe Veleno “A”–#52 Jonatan Berggren

#23 Lucas Raymond: Am I allowed to say that I was disappointed in a two-goal-scorer, who finished at +1 with a team-high 4 shots? Because I was disappointed in Raymond to some extent. The 5’11,” 182-pound winger scored some beautiful goals for the Red Wings, and he took no guff from the Blues when they targeted him physically (though he’s just not going to retaliate)…

But I really felt that Raymond could have scored another goal or two if he didn’t keep passing back to the point, or working along the boards to defer to Veleno when he could have simply shoveled the puck toward the front of the net (and/or gone there himself).

Raymond is so damn talented that it’s silly sometimes, and he’s going to be an NHL player and probably a star at the NHL level, but he’s adjusting to North American hockey, and there was a play on one of the Wings’ early power plays where Raymond was in perfect position to launch a one-timer toward Blues goalie Colten Ellis, but instead, Raymond instinctively rifled the puck back to the center blueline, right between the Wings’ defensemen, and I thought, “Shit, that’s a Frolunda play–it’s not going to work here on the 85-foot-wide ice.”

Raymond has displayed determination, fortitude and pluck as teams have clearly targeted him physically, generally bouncing off the blows (often with the puck in tow), and he’s going to have to keep learning how to be more efficient from a physical point of view as well as in terms of getting pucks on net whenever he can possibly do so. He still is Lucas Raymond, after all:

Lucas Raymond added ✌️ tonight. pic.twitter.com/YHZ7TPykjx— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 19, 2021

#90 Joe Veleno “A”: Veleno is the de-facto captain of the team, and, on a night when he was double and triple-shifted, the 21-year-old center played like an NHL veteran at times, really attempting to take the team on his back offensively while carrying the weight of an attempted comeback on the first line’s shoulders (to the tune of an assist, +1 and 2 shots).

Veleno has always possessed talent–he was given an exemption by the Canadian Hockey League to play Major Junior hockey as a 15-year-old–but the 6’1,” 206-pound forward has finally grown into a big, strong body, and while he projects as something of a two-way, second or third-line pivot at the NHL level, he’s going to be counted upon to produce offense via playmaking, passing and shooting skills at the AHL level–should he not earn a spot in Detroit–and, over the course of two games, Veleno’s played nothing less than professional and consistent hockey, utilizing his strong core to lug the puck up ice, win faceoffs and battles along the boards and behind the net.

He takes no shit, either, and that was encouraging on a difficult night for the team.

#52 Jonatan Berggren: Losing Berggren essentially dropped the Wings down to one line, and a hobbled line at that, because Berggren’s elite, elite playmaking skills were sorely missed. Not as big as his 5’11,” 195-pound-listed stats, but not that much smaller anymore, the little forward with the short stick and cuff-less gloves had a good first period, but he got clobbered into the end boards during an awkward collision, and while he finished the period, that was pretty much it for him.

The Wings’ prospects rather desperately need his services as the team’s thin up front, but Detroit’s coaches and training staff aren’t going to endanger Berggren’s ability to play during main camp and/or exhibition games for the sake of a 2-and-1 record.

I will say that, from what I’ve seen of Berggren over a game-and-a-period, if he can get down from passing 100% of the time to passing 90% of the time that the puck is on his stick, he’ll add an element to his game that I feel he is lacking in some sneaky goal-scoring.

That being said, like Raymond, he’s got a North American learning curve to master, even after three seasons playing against men in Sweden, and some time in Grand Rapids will serve him well.

#74 Cross Hanas–#46 Chase Pearson “A”–#79 Kirill Tyutyayev**

#74 Cross Hanas: Hanas had a real opportunity to step up and be seen tonight, and he wasn’t able to grab the bull by the horns. I’m really bullish on the 19-year-old’s potential as a middle-six winger, but the 6’1,” 171-pound winger with the fleet feet and the lazy stride ended up getting pushed around and pushed off pucks a little too regularly for my liking. Hanas–like the rest of his teammates–deferred a little too much and didn’t attack the net with purpose on Saturday, and that diminished his shine ever-so-slightly for me.

I’ve seen Hanas at his best (development camp) and at his worst (the World Junior Summer Showcase), and I guess he’s fallen somewhere in between over the course of two games here at the prospect tournament. He’ll head back to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks for a full WHL season this fall, but it’d be nice to see him pot a goal or an assist here for confidence’s sake, especially going into main camp.

#46 Chase Pearson “A”: Pearson and Veleno wore the two “A’s” tonight (Wyatt Newpower sat this game out, so there was no third alternate captain tonight), and on a night when the Wings became a one-line team, Pearson was the other guy pulling his weight.

The 24-year-old stands a square 6’3″ and 202 pounds, and he skates superbly, he wins faceoffs, he can shoot fairly well, he passes well, he checks the snot out of people, and there are moments when he’ll retaliate if necessary. He also has an incredibly high competitive level, so there’s no quit in Pearson on a bad night for the team or a bad night for the player, and while he’s not likely to unseat Mitchell Stephens for the Wings’ 4th line center’s spot this fall…

Down the line, a 3rd or 4th line job will fall to Pearson.

#79 Kirill Tyutyayev**: We got to see Tyutyayev’s highs on Thursday, when he scored 2 goals, and some of his lows on Saturday, where he only took 1 shot on the net, spent far too much time trying to work the puck along the side boards and/or pass to teammates who had theoretically better chances to shoot, and he took a relatively undisciplined penalty while he was at it.

Now listed at 5’10” and 176 pounds by the Wings, and accurately so, the Griffins-contracted winger looked (like Raymond) to be adjusting to smaller ice and faster pace of play on Saturday; he was promoted to the first line when Berggren could no longer play, and while Tyutyayev soaked up the ice time because he skates nimbly and dekes and dangles with the best of them, Tyutyayev over-complicated a simple game at times, and that’s going to be the learning curve for the young Russian jester.

Some nights you’re gonna score a highlight reel goal or two, and some nights, you’re going to need to shoot for rebounds and just toss pucks toward the net yourself when others are hesitant to do so, and Tyutyayev has the talent to take that initiative, he’s got the drive and the moxie to do it under physical duress, too, but he’s just got to do it.

#78 Patrick Curry*–#56 Pasquale Zito–#58 Cameron Butler*

#78 Patrick Curry*: I was bummed that Curry got hurt, because the 5’10,” 185-pound Griffins-contracted forward has really put in the time in practice to earn a spot in the lineup, but his attempt to turn some heads was cut short.

The fact that Curry was one of the Wings’ more physical forecheckers hurt, too, but the 25-year-old graduate of Boston College is a leader, too, and I think losing his steady presence hurt the Wings more than a little bit.

Curry projects to be a checking center at the AHL level, with “good enough” skating and faceoff abilities to get the job done there. I’m not sure if he has an NHL upside at the moment, but right now, I just want him to be okay, which is the same way that I feel about Berggren.

#56 Pasquale Zito: Rust is a must, it seems, for “these OHL kids” who haven’t played meaningful games in a year, and whether it was Zito, Butler, Walker or Codd, every Ontario Hockey League player who played on Saturday night displayed a level of difficulty with their game.

Zito, who is undoubtedly plucky despite his 6,’ 176-pound size, took a really awful penalty in the third period when the Blues were getting to him (as opposed to the other way around, which is his bread and butter as an instigating forward). That was frustrating to see, because Zito’s resume with the Windsor Spitfires is short but strong in the instigating-and-getting-away-with-it department.

Only 18, Zito has more to show us, and a little smarter pluck would do a fine job of carrying over into more confidence come main camp.

#58 Cameron Butler*: Butler, a 6’4,” 210-pound invite out of Niagara of the OHL, got a couple of shifts on the top line and a lot of time on the 2nd line after Berggren’s injury, and he showed me that he could.

Not that he would, 100% of the time, but that the massive free agent and draft-eligible re-entry could skate up ice with authority, carrying the puck on his stick, that he could unleash a formidable shot, that he could make smart plays along the wall and through center ice, and that he could bump and grind and crash and bang.

There’s a lot of potential in Butler, but the application of potential is what separates a forward who was passed over in the draft from a player like Joe Hicketts, who came into camp and forced the Wings to sign him.

And I know, Hicketts didn’t work out, but another Wings camp invite, Barclay Goodrow, did when Detroit wouldn’t sign him to an NHL deal.

#64 Luke Toporowski*–#62 Cooper Walker*–#61 T-Bone Codd*

#64 Luke Toporowski*: Better? On a bad night for the team, and his line (all of Toporowski, Walker and Codd finished at -2), Toporowski, a 5’11,” 181-pound free agent invite from the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, displayed little glimmers and flashes of his point-per-game WHL resume. Toporowski can carry the puck up ice with flourish and flair, and you can tell that he’s been a scorer at every level of hockey he’s played, but he’s encountered some significant push-back in terms of the level of opposition he’s facing here, and it’s been an education for him.

Whether he improves over the course of tomorrow’s game and main camp could at least set him up for another big WHL season.

#62 Cooper Walker*: Walker, who stands at 6′ and 174 pounds, is another one of those OHL guys, and on a night where players got pushed around, Walker got pushed around. He’s listed by EliteProspects at 5’9″ and 157 pounds, which may explain why he’s been out-of-sorts as the Wings’ fourth line center (i.e. there’s been a growth spurt!), and in theory, there’s just more there…But I haven’t seen it yet.

#61 T-Bone Codd*: Perhaps the biggest fan favorite since Robin Big Snake, the Saginaw Spirit forward continued to bounce off players who tried to hit him, bounce off players once he hit them, and, generally speaking, Codd attempted to hurl himself around the ice with a fair amount of aplomb. He did get pushed around a bit, but there were glimmers of skill from the plucky young forward, including some deft plays with the puck.

Defensemen:

#3 Jared McIsaac–#84 Alex Cotton

#3 Jared McIsaac: On a very rough night for the defense, McIsaac and Sebrango were the bright spots. McIsaac finished at +1 with an assist and 2 shots, and he is slowly getting his legs back under him after a very rough pair of years and pair of shoulder surgeries.

At 21, the 6’1,” 192-pound defenseman is big and strong enough to have not been pushed around by the Big, Bad Blues on Saturday, and McIsaac also said, “No, thanks” to a couple of invitations to drop the gloves, which speaks to what he can bring in terms of irritating the opponent.

Mostly, he’s a meat-and-potatoes defenseman who ideally projects to be a Swiss Army Knife, someone that you can use in every situation because he skates strongly, passes the puck well, sees the ice well, has a strong shot, checks well, gaps up well, skates laterally and backwards well, and plain old doesn’t panic out there. On Saturday, he was steady when the waves were crashing around him.

#84 Alex Cotton: I sighed before typing out what I feel Cotton did and did not do on Saturday, which tells you that he made an impression.

Being a point-per-game defenseman at the WHL level is nothing to sneeze at. Being a point-per-game defenseman at the WHL level is why the Red Wings drafted the 19-year-old out of Lethbridge. And the 6’2,” 190-pound Cotton is no slouch in terms of an excellent shot, superb passing and playmaking skills, or possessing “wheels” of his own.

But he kept deferring or double-clutching when the simple play and the simple shot would have sufficed, and while he finished at +1 alongside McIsaac, he took two penalties against a Blues team that was dynamite on Saturday night, and that was a high-sticking and slashing set of penalties too far.

Cotton needs to gain some confidence here before heading back to the WHL, where he is a dominant defenseman.

#44 Donovan Sebrango–#83 Mason Ward*

#44 Donovan Sebrango: Well, Wango Tango, Donovan Sebrango. On a bad night for most Wings defensemen, Sebrango had a fight, 2 shots, and finished at -1 on the evening, playing major minutes and showing why the Red Wings chose to sign the 19-year-old after a strong showing with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Sebrango is simply fearless, utterly and completely fearless, and while he projects as a #3/4/5 defenseman at the NHL level–perhaps someone who would complement a Jared McIsaac rock-solid second pairing–there are flashes of a heavy, hard and accurate shot, good passing and playmaking sense, and really underrated skating skills. He blocks shots, takes numbers when guys run him, and tries to stand up people and/or level the occasional opponent, too, which is plain old fun to watch.

Sebrango is a real old-school defenseman with an old-school mentality, and he’s adapted that flair for a modern game well enough that he’s become something of a bonus prospect, breaking some hearts and winning others along the way.

#83 Mason Ward*: Bumpy night. The free agent invite from the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL is a steady 6’5″ and perhaps undersized weight-wise at a still-hefty 214 pounds, and Ward definitely shows flashes where you can see the NHL bloodlines (his father, Lance Ward, was a long-time NHL defender) and plain old smarts that he possesses, but on Saturday, it was a bumpy affair for the 19-year-old.

#86 Adam Brubacher–#77 Oscar Plandowski

#86 Adam Brubacher*: Brubacher had more or less earned a place in my heart as a heavy-hitting, albeit heavy-footed defenseman, and Saturday reminded me that the 6’3,” 202-pound 25-year-old was brought in as a free agent invite to be heavy…But not that heavy. There are times that the stay-at-home defenseman’s maturity also translates into making the kinds of plays that only work at a professional level if everyone has their heads on straight, and few Wings had their heads on straight on Saturday. Worse, there are times that Brubacher can be exploited because he can be heavy-footed in the unflattering sense of the term, and when you’re just plain heavy out there, you’re not an asset.

Where he ends up? Somewhere in the pro ranks for sure, but maybe not with Grand Rapids or Toledo after all.

#77 Oscar Plandowski: In Plandowski’s case, I tried to accentuate the positive and remember that there is potential in the 18-year-old. At 6′ and a listed 182 pounds, Plandowski got pushed around plenty by the Blues on Saturday, but the Charlottetown Islanders defenseman does skate remarkably well and does possess innate offensive instincts that have not necessarily been on display to their fullest potential in his first experience with near-professional-level hockey.

Does that mean that Plandowski and Zito get free passes to not display everything that caused the Wings to draft them on a nightly basis? No, not necessarily so, but it is worth keeping in mind that these gentlemen are two months removed from being drafted, and that there is potential for growth here. Unlike a Brubacher or a Curry, we’re not talking about fully-developed players when you’re 18 or 19, and there is always, always room for improvement. Especially when your mom is a power skating coach.

Goaltenders:

#33 Sebastian Cossa: I hate to break it to you all, but this exactly the game I envisioned that Sebastian Cossa would have in his first experience at near-professional-level hockey, and, as I said about Plandowski…

It’s okay. Come off the, “We should have drafted Jesper Wallstedt, this kid is going to be nothing more than another bum in the net!” wall.

The Red Wings drafted the 6’6,” 210-pound Cossa knowing that the cocky young man absolutely dominated the WHL last season, playing on a strong Edmonton Oil Kings team. The Red Wings drafted Cossa also knowing that the big man had some big holes to fill in terms of his technique, as evidenced by the 5-hole goal he gave up, as evidenced by those high blocker and glove side goals he gave up, and as genuinely evidenced by his 25 stops on 30 shots, playing against a stiff opponent.

Cossa has been working with the Red Wings’ goaltending coaches to fill the holes in his game with technique and maturity, but none of those things come to fruition overnight, and as I was watching Cossa spend more time in warm-ups stretching than he was stopping pucks, I thought, “Here it comes.”

As a former goalie, I thought, “Well, here’s the kid who’s so good that he’s too good for warm-ups. Wuh woah. This is not going to be pretty if the Wings have an off night.”

And the Red Wings had an off night as a team. From the goaltender on out.

So, no, this was not a great performance from a goaltender upon whom there are absolutely elite expectations. No, this was not the kind of thing that makes you say, “Gee, I can understand why they didn’t go with the Swede for once.” But it was his first game playing at a level he’s going to have to pull himself off his butt and aspire to achieve at becoming–elite. And that’s a hard lesson, and maybe a good lesson, for Sebastian Cossa to have to learn at all of 18.

#60 Jan Bednar: Well, the pressure is on here. Coach Ben Simon said that each of the Red Wings’ three goaltenders would “get a game” apiece, and the 6’4,” 200-pound goaltender with the reputation for being as inconsistent as he is spectacular is going to have the opportunity to put some demons to bed on Sunday evening. After splitting last season between the Czech Extraliga and the QMJHL, Bednar will get his first full year’s worth of games at a consistent level of play this upcoming year, a year after the Red Wings drafted him…

And the 19-year-old has seen the best and worst of the Red Wings roster that will play in front of him over the course of two nights. The Wings are going to hold a brief, optional morning skate on Sunday, and then they will tangle with Columbus, and that’s it till training camp, so the more everyone learns, the better. The starter of the night included.

Scratches:

#34 Victor Brattstrom, G: I can’t say enough about the work ethic of the 24-year-old Brattstrom–and I would suggest that his determination for honing his craft, even at an age where he’s going to battle Calvin Pickard for the starter’s job in Grand Rapids, is the kind of maturity level to which someone like Cossa can aspire. Brattstrom had a wild, woolly game vs. Dallas, and since then, he’s spent all his time working with the Wings’ goaltending coaches to tweak subtle parts of his game.

At 6’5″ and 198 pounds, he’s still mastering learning to close all the holes that a gigantic goaltender tends to exhibit, and yes, he’s going to have to adjust to the angles of smaller ice, but the big butterfly netminder busts his hump to work on just those things, and he’s not going to be as crazy as his first performance in the Wings’ cage suggests.

#47 Wyatt Newpower, D: Newpower sat out despite wearing an “A” on his jersey, and the Red Wings missed his presence. The 6’3,” 194-pound defenseman is a relatively steady presence on the blueline, and the Red Wings signed him as a 23-year-old free agent because the then-Lake Erie Monsters defenseman did enough to impress the pro scouts into handing out a coveted NHL contract. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s going to play for the Griffins this upcoming season.

#51 Hayden Verbeek, C**: Verbeek’s future as a pro is a little murkier, but the 5’10,” 183-pound center was at least intriguing enough to the organization as a 23-year-old to ink him to an AHL deal after allowing his NHL deal to expire (Verbeek was picked up in the Jon Merrill trade). He’s here for more reasons than just being assistant GM Pat Verbeek’s nephew, and the plucky little defensive center will work on the Griffins’ third or fourth line as he continues to cement himself as a pro player this upcoming season.

*= Free agent invite, **= Grand Rapids Griffins contract

That’s all from me for tonight. I’ve got to head to bed as the Wings have an optional morning skate at 9:45, and it’s nearing 1 AM as I write this in a hotel where there are little kids up here from Plymouth, playing in a soccer tournament, so I have no idea how much actual sleep I’m going to get overnight. It won’t be much, and I’ll be running on fumes tomorrow at this time, but that’s the job, and you’ve all afforded me the opportunity to have it, so I’m going to do my best.

In the fundraising department, I’m approximately $400 short of my hotel bill, and my cell phone is dying an ugly death, so if you’re willing to lend a hand in exchange for this prospect tournament and main training camp coverage, you can use Paypal at https://paypal.me/TheMalikReport, Venmo at https://venmo.com/george-malik-2, Giftly by using my email, rtxg@yahoo.com, at https://www.giftly.com, and yes, you can contact me via email if you want to send me a paper check.

Regarding the phone, you’d think that it’s not an essential part of doing the job, but when I’m a rink, and other folks are able to Tweet out updates, and I’ve got a brick in my hand because my old Samsung S7 is ancient…You feel a little left out, to say the least. And under-prepared, which is something I don’t like to be.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

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