Young Red Wings get another chance to make impression as preseason begins

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Head coach Jeff Blashill will lead the Red Wings into the preseason, which opens Tuesday at home against the Blackhawks.

Traverse City — The first phase is done.

The Red Wings left Traverse City after Monday’s practice, concluding a training camp that began Friday and christened yet another hockey season.

Players have “tweaked” muscles, the hockey clichés are rolling, prospects are being compared to Hall of Famers, and the sight of Steve Yzerman wearing a Red Wings’ jacket is again quite comfortable after not seeing it for so many years.

But it’s definitely time for the next phase: Exhibition games.

The Red Wings have their first Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, scrimmaging (which is essentially what it is) against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The next phase before — the regular season — begins in October.

But before then, let’s take a look at the some developments from the past few days here in Traverse City, which remains a fine spot to get hockey underway.


Can defenseman Moritz Seider make the jump from playing hockey in Germany to the NHL?

It’s not likely to happen immediately. But it might not take nearly as long as maybe originally thought.

You see North American 18-year-olds who’ve played against stronger competition than Seider has struggle to simply adjust to the minor pro leagues here, never mind the NHL.

It will be intriguing to watch Seider these next two weeks against NHL competition getting ready for this season.

Seider’s approach to the game, his demeanor, and size and talent, are beyond most 18-year-olds. That should serve him well in the years ahead.

You have to think Seider is best served by playing, at least for a while, in Grand Rapids and getting acclimated to North American pro hockey.

But with the maturity and poise of this kid, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Seider fairly soon.

Rasmussen's crowded path

It was interesting listening to coach Jeff Blashill on Sunday talk about 2017 first-round pick Michael Rasmussen.

The Wings have decided that long-term, Rasmussen’s best position is center, where he spent most of his time in junior. The Wings envision a big, 6-foot-6, shut-down center who can also provide offense around the net.

But with that switch, Rasmussen’s chances to opening the season in Detroit are slim.

“If you looked at Ras’ long-term outlook, he’s a center,” Blashill said. “Those guys can be really, really hard to play against because they’re so good defensively. If he’s a guy who can shut down other teams’ best players, that’s a real positive.”

“His ability to score net-front is a real positive. But ultimately, he’s going to have to beat out (Dylan) Larkin, Fil (Valtteri Filppula), (Frans) Nielsen, Glennie (Luke Glendening), Ehner (Christoffer Ehn), (Jacob) de la Rose.”

Unless there are injuries, Rasmussen isn’t likely to pass that many players on the depth chart.

But, it would help Rasmussen, also, to play in Grand Rapids and reclaim some confidence lost during a tough rookie season in the NHL.

Busy schedule

The Wings play 82 games during a long six-month (plus a week, or two) NHL regular season.

But they’ll play nine preseason games in the next two weeks.

It’s a game more than usual because of the Wings’ participation in the NHL’s Hockeyville event in Calumet, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Along with keeping the coaching, training and equipment staffs busy, there will be players who get plenty of chances to show what they can do.

Nobody will play all nine games, obviously. But young players on the brink of the NHL likely will get about five or six games to show they deserve an opportunity.

This schedule is perfect for them.

Red Wings forward Filip Zadina spent most of last season in the AHL.

Zadina's future

Filip Zadina, the 2018 first-round pick, didn’t meet the largely unrealistic expectations fans had for him last season.

Zadina spent the majority of the season in Grand Rapids and had 16 goals.

“It’s part of hockey life,” said Zadina, of last season’s education. “No one has an easy way to the NHL. I was glad I could spend one year in the AHL. It opened my eyes to what I have to do better.

“I worked the whole summer and I’m a better player.”

Preseason hockey: Blackhawks at Red Wings

► Faceoff: 7:30 p.m, Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit-plus/950 AM

Outlook: The first of nine preseason games for the Wings, who travel the Chicago for a game 24 hours later. … Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Green and Darren Helm are some of the Wings’ who aren’t likely to play, nursing minor aches and pains. ... Keep an eye on prospects such as D Moritz Seider, C Joe Veleno, RW Filip Zadina, C Michael Rasmussen, and D Dennis Cholowski, all recent first-round picks attempting to earn roster spots.

Twitter: @tkulfan