Detroit — The Red Wings have some intriguing young prospects in the organization, but a lot of them aren’t quite ready for the NHL.
So it wasn’t altogether surprising Saturday when they assigned draft picks like forwards Filip Zadina, Ryan Kuffner, Givani Smith, Evgeny Svechnikov, Joe Veleno and David Pope, and defensemen Oliwer Kaski, Gustav Lindstrom and Vili Saarijarvi to Grand Rapids.
Defensemen Moritz Seider and Dennis Cholowski, both recent first-round picks, both are still on the roster, the final version of which must be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Cholowski (2016 first-round) has arguably been one of the best defensemen throughout this preseason, while Seider, whom the Wings’ picked in the first-round in June, has shown enough to last this long in camp.
Zadina, the 2018 first-round pick, failed to generate much offense in six games, with one point (an assist) and a minus-2 rating.
Zadina and Veleno, also a 2018 first-round pick but in his first pro season, could wind up playing on the same line in Grand Rapids.
Svechnikov, returning after missing all last season because of knee surgery, had an impressive preseason but the Wings want to see him receive extensive game action in the minor leagues first.
Kaski, an undrafted free agent from Finland, was slowed by an injury early in the exhibition season and failed to catch up.
The Wings currently have 36 players on their preseason roster: 19 forwards, 13 defensemen and four goaltenders.
The Wings also waived eight players Saturday — goaltender Calvin Pickard, defensemen Joe Hicketts, Brian Lashoff and Dylan McIlrath, and forwards Turner Elson, Matt Puempel, Chris Terry and Dominic Turgeon.
If the players clear at noon Sunday, they’ll be assigned to the Wings’ minor league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.
Of those waived Saturday, Hicketts might be the lone mild surprise.
Hicketts has played in 16 NHL games with the Wings over the last two seasons overcoming a lack of size (5-foot-8, 180 pounds) with an impressive will and confidence in his ability.
But Hicketts’ offensive game is lacking, and he’s been passed on the organization’s depth chart by several younger defensemen (primarily Filip Hronek, Cholowski, and now Seider).
In Toronto, the Red Wings ended the exhibition season with a 5-0 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Andreas Johnsson, Trevor Moore (shorthanded), William Nylander (power play), Auston Matthews (power play) and John Tavares (power play) scored for the Leafs, while goalie Frederik Andersen stopped 16 shots for the shutout.
Johnsson scored 29 seconds into the game, igniting the rout. The Leafs broke it open with four second-period goals, all on special teams.
The Leafs outshot the Wings a staggering 33-16, with both teams playing mainly NHL rosters in the final preseason tuneup.
The Wings were 0-for-3 on the power play, while Toronto scored three times on four chances.