Detroit – For the Detroit Red Wings, there were several key issues that sprung up during the month of practices and exhibition games. Among the most intriguing items:
What about the kids?
Surely there are many fans out there who wanted to see the likes of Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Moritz Seider, etc., on the NHL roster.
That wasn’t going to happen.
There are still plenty of veteran players on contracts who will be here for another year or two.
Some prospects didn’t exactly make it a tough decision for the Wings.
Zadina didn’t have a goal in the preseason and wasn’t much of a factor often.
Fans were thrilled with Veleno after the prospects tournament, but Veleno looked like a 19-year-old lacking experience once the NHL preseason schedule got underway. He hasn’t played a minute of pro hockey yet.
Oliwer Kaski didn’t show nearly enough to warrant an NHL position yet.
There simply wasn’t enough competition for jobs.
Seider was impressive in spots, no doubt. But there were moments, too, he looked age 18. The NHL regular season would be a different animal totally, and for an 18-year-old, the best route is to get more accustomed to North American pro hockey in the AHL. He’s only a phone call away. And at some point this season, Seider likely will get a taste of the NHL.
Last season, there wasn’t much of a sense that Zadina was going to get a big opportunity to make the roster. But Zadina didn’t overwhelm in camp, either.
There was a path this season, if Zadina were to have had an excellent camp.
But he didn’t. He didn’t score, he wasn’t noticeable enough on the ice, he didn’t seem to be playing with a lot of confidence.
Taro Hirose was better – by a knockout.
Zadina won’t be 20 until next month. The NHL-quality shot is there, and he’s seemingly understanding the need to work hard at both ends of the ink.
But it would be nice to see Zadina take a big step forward in Grand Rapids this season. There will be a lot of players his age, and part of the Wings’ future. The atmosphere is there for him to thrive.
Coming of age
Dennis Cholowski, Michael Rasmussen and Evgeni Svechnikov looked good this preseason.
Cholowski was another player seemingly ticketed to Grand Rapids, needing more work on his defense. But Cholowski’s overall game looked more polished, he fills a need of being a left-hand shot on the power play, and his progress was encouraging to see after last season’s second-half demotion.
Rasmussen, too, was a minor revelation. Back at his natural center position, Rasmussen was a net-front presence and appeared to be skating better.
Svechnikov, coming off a lost season due to knee surgery, needs to knock off some rust in Grand Rapids. But Svechnikov appeared further ahead than could be expected and looks poised for a promotion to the NHL later this season.
After Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, where are the Wings going to generate offense? Can Frans Nielsen or Valtteri Filppula form chemistry with Andreas Athanasiou on the second line? As good as Hirose looked in the preseason, now he has to carry it over to the real games.
Everyone realized the defense could be shaky and it looked to be at times this month. They will allow a lot of shots and scoring chances, if Saturday’s game against Toronto is any indication.
The penalty kill, a season-long problem last season, looked to be an issue again Saturday, though against an ultra-strong Toronto power play.