John Niyo and Ted Kulfan talk about Steve Yzerman's first three weeks on the job, Ken Holland's departure, Pavel Datsyuk rumors and NHL draft possibilities with the No. 6 pick. The Detroit News
It's springtime in Detroit, and you know what that means.
No, it's not playoff hockey — at least not for the Detroit Red Wings, anyway. After 25 straight postseason appearances, the Red Wings failed to qualify for a playoff spot for the third consecutive year in 2018-19.
But for those disappointed about not catching Detroit's young core — who contributed to the Red Wings winning eight of their last 11 games — in action until September, there is some good news: The 2019 IIHF World Championships, held in Slovakia, got underway Friday and five Red Wings are participating.
Let's take a look at what to expect from the Red Wings in play, plus five other names to keep an eye on as things unfold.
Jack Hughes, F, United States National Development Team
As the presumed No. 1 pick to the New Jersey Devils in June's NHL Entry Draft, there's reason to believe that Hughes' World Championships appearance is the most heavily anticipated. The 17-year-old set a USNDT program record for most points in a career, finishing with 228 in 110 games as a member of the Plymouth-based club.
Hughes, who turns 18 on Tuesday, is the youngest player in the tournament. There'll be a considerable amount of attention paid to how he'll stack up against NHL competition, but age has never been a concern for the playmaking forward: Hughes finished eighth among all skaters with four assists in four games as the youngest player of the United States' 2019 World Junior Championship team, which claimed a silver medal in January.
Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks
That's right. There's two of them.
Despite the hype surrounding Jack Hughes' performance with the USNTD and impending draft status, it's older brother Quinn who first made himself a well-known commodity in metro Detroit, spending the last two seasons as a rock-solid foundation on the blue line at the University of Michigan.
Hughes, 19, was selected No. 7 overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2018 Entry Draft. He led all Wolverine defensemen in points (five goals, 24 assists) en route to a Frozen Four appearance his freshman year and led all Michigan skaters in points (five goals, 28 assists) during a sophomore year in which Hughes was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist before signing an entry-level deal with the Canucks in March.
The 2019 Worlds will be the second time Jack and Quinn Hughes team up for their national team this year, as Quinn (two assists, plus-3) also participated in January's WJC.
Luke Glendening, F, Detroit Red Wings
Want to know what to expect from Glendening at the World Championships? Just watch tape from any Red Wings season over the last six years.
Perhaps that's oversimplifying things a bit, but as Team USA's fourth-line center, don't expect any drastic surprises from the 30-year-old Glendening: He fits a need as a veteran presence and will likely earn a majority of his keep as a penalty-kill specialist.
Dylan Larkin, F, Detroit Red Wings
The biggest Red Wing name of the bunch will have an "A" on his chest while representing Team USA during the World Championships, and it's another chance to prove his worthiness as the next man to wear the "C" in Detroit.
Larkin, 22, took another step forward as the face of Detroit's franchise with an extremely solid 2018-19 campaign, leading his team in points with 32 goals and 41 assists and becoming the first Red Wing to score 30 goals in a season since 2008-09 — though, Andreas Athanasiou scored his 30th goal of the season just a day later.
The assistant captain has netted 29 points in his last three World Championships appearances, and with his continued success at the NHL level — and not to mention, his familiarity with USA coach Jeff Blashill — it's not hard to imagine that Larkin's scoring and leadership will be a key asset for the Americans.
Tyler Bertuzzi, F, Detroit Red Wings
Bertuzzi put up 21 goals and 26 assists — including a run of 13 points during a six-game win streak near season's end — in his first full year in Detroit, and his naming to the Canadian roster alone is a promising sign for the young winger.
It's probable that Bertuzzi's developing game will be lost in the shuffle of Canada's star-studded lineup. The former second-round pick was placed on the fourth line alongside young Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Jonathan Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph in Friday's 3-1 win over Finland and played just 4:43.
Anthony Mantha, F, Detroit Red Wings
Like Bertuzzi, Mantha is another Red Wing that will be hard-pressed to get any serious minutes at the World Championships.
Still yet to eclipse a 50-point season thus far in his NHL career, Mantha put up 48 points in his last two seasons — though he did do that in 13 less games in 2018-19, missing time with a hand injury.
Made evident by just 5:51 of ice-time as a third-line winger in Canada's tournament opener, Mantha's low scoring prowess make him a depth piece on a Canadian roster loaded with talent.
Filip Hronek, D, Detroit Red Wings
Hronek got his first call-up to the NHL with the Red Wings in the 2018-19 season and the right-handed defenseman did not disappoint, tallying five goals and 18 assists in 46 NHL games.
That was good enough to earn the 21-year-old a spot on Czech's national team, where he immediately made an impact. Hronek played 18:17 and made a silky breakout pass that sprung Jakub Vrana free and led to a Czech goal in a 5-2 victory over Sweden on Friday.
Hronek's limited time at the NHL level makes his performance on an international stage perhaps the most intriguing of all Red Wings in the tournament.
Leon Draisaitl, F, Edmonton Oilers
In terms of raw talent, one could make an argument for Draisaitl being the most exciting player in this year's tournament. The former No. 3 overall pick is coming off a career year, scoring 50 goals and adding 55 assists.
The problem? Similar to his situation in Edmonton, where he and Connor McDavid became the first teammates in NHL history to each score more than 100 points on a team that missed the playoffs, there's not much star power surrounding him. Draisaitl is one of just three NHL players on Germany's roster.
It'll be interesting to see how Draisaitl is able to produce, but in terms of what to watch for specifically with the 23-year-old center, there's really not much to it: The 23-year-old forward has terrific hands, a laser shot and a knack for putting on a show.
Mikhail Sergachev, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
The former ninth overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens followed up an impressive 40-point rookie season in Tampa Bay with six goals and 26 assists in his sophomore campaign with the Lightning.
While not a draft pick of new Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman — Sergachev, 20, was acquired in a June 2017 trade with Montreal for Jonathan Drouin — the Russian defenseman will be a player for Red Wings fans to keep an eye on, as it tells us a little bit about what Yzerman might look to build on Detroit's backend.
At 6-3, 210 pounds, Sergachev is a big-body defenseman who shows poise in all three zones, has an impressive playmaking touch and is flat-out exciting to watch.
Elias Pettersson, F, Vancouver Canucks
In his rookie year, Pettersson was the biggest bright spot for a middling Vancouver Canucks team that failed to qualify for playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
The Calder Trophy finalist captured the attention of the hockey world by scoring five goals and three assists in the first five games in his career. But he didn't stop there: The 20-year-old star went on to lead all rookies — and his team — in points with 28 goals and 38 assists en route to shattering Pavel Bure's franchise rookie scoring record.
Like Draisaitl, Pettersson is a fun, out-of-market name to keep an eye on as Sweden looks to three-peat as tournament champion.