'Still in shock': Red Wings pull stunner, select defenseman Moritz Seider with No. 6 pick
Vancouver, British Columbia — Moritz Seider was as shocked as everyone else was in Rogers Arena.
Seider, a German defenseman who was expecting to be picked somewhere in the 15-20 range in Friday’s NHL Draft, heard his name called by the Red Wings with the No. 6 overall pick.
Unexpected? Yes, you could say that.
“Amazing,” Seider said minutes after having met everyone at the Red Wings’ table. “I’m still in shock. I had no idea. My hands were shaking and legs were shaking. I looked at my mom and she was so shocked, she was way more nervous than I was.”
When Seider met general manager Steve Yzerman at the podium, Yzerman had some advice for his young prospect.
“Just be calm and enjoy the moment,” Seider said. “Because my hands were shaking and I was so sweaty.”
Yzerman has been intrigued with Seider since watching the 6-foot-4, 198-pound right-hand shot at the world junior tournament.
The all-around versatility Seider displayed, Yzerman said, was impressive.
“We think he has excellent hockey sense,” Yzerman said. “Obviously he’s a big kid, real good skater. He’s a real smart player. When I first saw him, I was surprised. You’re going to see a young kid in Germany and you don’t expect that kind of hockey IQ.
“In our opinion he was one of the top defensemen in the draft. Anyone we picked (at No. 6 overall) would have filled a need, based on where we’re at. A big, good skating, smart defenseman…it’s a very valuable asset.”
Coach Jeff Blashill saw Seider up close during the world championships — Blashill coached Team USA — and came away impressed.
“He’s big, efficient, smart and he plays under pressure,” Blashill said. “That’s what the best defensemen do. As an 18-year-old in a men’s league, he handled himself very well. He looks like a guy who can keep growing into his body.”
Seider’s ability to play so well against men in the German pro league is a good example, said Blashill, of Seider’s poise.
“When I watched him under pressure, he was able to make passes through people,” Blashill said. “That’s what the best defensemen do. They don’t see the first forechecker, they see their options and he did a good job of that.”
“Certainly he has the look of a guy that can be a top-four defenseman who helps you win hockey games.”
Seider played in Mannheim in the German pro league last season, tallying two goals and four assists in 29 games and was the rookie of the year in the German pro league.
The Wings met with Seider during the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo, New York.
“They asked so many questions, and wanted to know everything about me,” said Seider, who felt the 40-minute meeting might be an inkling the organization might have interest in him.
Yzerman wouldn’t commit as to where Seider will play next season, be it in North America or returning to play with Mannheim.
“Let’s get to training camp and if he goes back there (to Germany), it’s a first-class organization, a good program, a real good team,” Yzerman said. “We’ll let it play out and whatever is best for him.”
Yzerman said he considered moving back in the draft, and possibly acquire more draft picks from another team, but nothing materialized.
And the Wings weren’t optimistic Seider would last into the second round on Saturday.
“We had to make a decision,” Yzerman said. “We’re pretty excited to get him.”
Beyond Seider, there weren’t many surprises at the top of the Friday’s draft.
Jack Hughes, from the Plymouth Township-based U.S. National Team Development Program, was picked first overall by the New Jersey Devils.
Hughes was announced by former Devils legend goaltender Martin Brodeur, and was cheered by the Vancouver crowd. Hughes was also congratulated by his brother Quinn, who is a defenseman on the Canucks and a former Michigan standout.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Hughes said. “I’m pumped to be a Devil. I’m real excited.”
After Hughes, as expected, the New York Rangers selected Finnish sensation Kaapo Kakko second overall.
Kakko had an excellent men’s world championships tournament in May, solidifying his position right behind Hughes.
It was after those two players that the draft became one larger question mark.
And the Chicago Blackhawks threw a bit of a curveball, selecting center Kirby Dach (Saskatoon/WHL) at No. 3.
Dach had 25 goals and 73 points in 62 games, and projects as an offensive force the Blackhawks need with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews not getting any younger.
Colorado, at No. 4, chose defenseman Bowen Byram, who played for the Vancouver junior team in the WHL and was rated as the best defenseman in this draft class.
With the No. 5 pick, the Kings selected the second USNTDP player, Alex Turcotte.