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Moritz Seider has path to Red Wings roster spot, but needs to show he's 'ready to go'

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — There is one question that appears to be predominately on the minds of Red Wings fans for next season (whenever that’ll begin).

Will young defenseman Moritz Seider be part of the Wings’ roster when that time comes?

It’ll be interesting to see, for sure.

The Wings could use Seider. After a historically bad 2019-20 season, and limited improvement possible next season, the Wings could use any sort of boost to the roster.

Seider is only 19. At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, Seider was the Wings’ 2019 first-round pick (No. 6 overall), and showed enough progress in Grand Rapids last season to cause optimism about his future.

General manager Steve Yzerman, talking to the media after the Draft Lottery, insisted Seider will show the Wings if he’s ready for the NHL with his play in training camp.

More: Red Wings could get closer look at European prospects ahead of NHL draft

“He will get an opportunity, whenever our season kicks off,” Yzerman said. “He will get an opportunity to show he is ready to play. If he is ready to go, he will play.”

And if Seider shows he isn’t quite ready?

“If not, he will spend a little more time in the American Hockey League,” Yzerman said. “But he had a very good year (in Grand Rapids) and it’s encouraging to see the things that he did in his development.”

Moritz Seider

In 49 games with the Griffins, Seider had two goals and 20 assists while playing 23 minutes per game.

After an expected uneven start to his pro career, Seider’s play improved across the board in every department as the season progressed.

“He attacks the game and he attacks the game at times in an offensive manner, and that’s awesome,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said during his end-of-season talk with the media. “But part of that is learning not to bite off more than you can chew, when to take the opportunity to make a play and when to live another day.

“As I go back and watch games late in the season with the Griffins, he did a much better job of that late in the year than he did early in the year. It looked like the experience he gained through the year made him a better player.”

The Wings were considering promoting Seider late last season. But those plans were squashed once the pandemic paused the NHL season on March 12, essentially ending the NHL and AHL seasons (the NHL will begin playoffs on Aug. 1).

“He has a chance to be a really good, impactful defenseman,” Blashill said. “Can he do it next season? I hope so. He might have as many as eight months to get himself prepared, to improve his body, turn his body from a young guy’s body to an elite, pro body.

“He’s got a chance to work on the ice to improve the different skills in his game and add more to his arsenal, so that he can come and demand that he’s on the team.

“So, like any young player, he’ll have to earn it.”

More: Striking gold in second, third rounds of NHL draft could hold key for Wings

There would appear to be roster spots on defense that Seider could claim.

Danny DeKeyser is expected to return from a herniated disc, and Filip Hronek and Patrik Nemeth are expected to nail down three of the top four spots. Alex Biega also has an inside spot on a roster spot.

With at least one free-agent defenseman expected to be signed — the Wings need to bolster the depth and overall skill on the unit — that would leave young defensemen Madison Bowey, Dennis Cholowski and Gustav Lindstrom battling for maybe one available spot.

So there is a path for Seider to make the Wings next season.

But it will be up to Seider to show he is ready, and he's able to take the big step to the NHL. The Wings have made it clear prospects will not be given roster spots until they're worthy of it.

“Seids had a really good year in totality,” Blashill said. “It was a learning year and there were ups and downs.

“When you’re a defenseman, it’s really hard. Experience is impossible to manufacture. On defense, experience matters a ton because you’re basically asked to go out there and make a good decision every split second.

“If you make a bad decision, it really shows.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan