Red Wings loan top draft pick Moritz Seider to Mannheim during pandemic
Red Wings top prospect Moritz Seider is staying home in Germany for the short term.
With Detroit out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year and American Hockey League players like Seider sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman loaned the 19-year-old German defenseman to the Mannheim Eagles in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Germany's top-tier men's league.
"Steve and I discussed a few times that this would be good for Mo," said Seider's agent Claude Lemieux, the four-time Stanley Cup champion and longtime nemesis who was at the center of the 1997 Red Wings-Avalanche brawl at Joe Louis Arena which led to Detroit's first Stanley Cup championship in 42 years.
"The goal is to get him minutes on the ice, to keep him skating. The DEL is open to players being loaned. He'll benefit and the Red Wings will benefit as well."
Lemieux said Seider will be allowed to practice with Mannheim and could play regular-season games when the season begins in early November. If the Red Wings resume skating or practicing for the first time since the NHL season was shut down on March 12, Seider could return to Detroit and continue his bid to make the team.
"Most GMs are very open to these short-term deals," Lemieux said. "If you have a player who is available to play in Switzerland, Germany or Finland, this makes sense. Sweden won't allow players to be loaned unless they play for the entire season."
A first-round selection by Yzerman in 2019, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Seider had two goals and 20 assists in 49 games in his rookie season with the Grand Rapids Griffins after picking up six points in 29 games playing against men with Mannheim in the 2018-2019 season.
"He's (Seider) going to have a long career," said Lemieux of 4Sports Hockey. "He's smart enough to know there's a learning curve playing with men. He did that in Germany and he did that in the AHL. He was at the right place. He wants to play for the Red Wings and hopefully it happens soon."
In a Detroit News podcast interview in April, Seider made it clear he expects to play in the NHL sooner rather than later.
"My goal was playing well in the American League for this season and I totally achieved that," Seider said. "Going into the next main camp the goal should be clear: Making the team and earning my spot on the roster. Everything else would be a disappointment. I have my goal and I will work very, very hard to get there."
Lemieux said if Seider makes the Red Wings next year, he could "easily see him paired up" with another client of his, Patrik Nemeth. Yzerman signed Nemeth to a two-year, $6 million contract last summer and the 6-foot-3, 235-pound defenseman responded with nine points in 64 games and the best plus/minus rating (-10) among the team's regular defensemen.
"The two previous teams he (Patrik) played for, Dallas and Colorado, were teams that were competing for playoff spots," Lemieux said. "Last year, there were a lot of growing pains. It was hard when you take a lot of pride in your defensive play when you see the minuses pile up. He's looking forward to the team being better next year."
In another COVID-19 development, Kasper Kotkansalo, Detroit's third-round pick in 2017 and a defenseman further down the Red Wings' depth chart, decided to remain in Finland and forgo his senior season at Boston University.
In an Instagram post, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Kotkansalo who had eight assists in 34 games last year said it was "a bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to BU but due to the COVID situation, I've decided to stay in FInland for the upcoming season."
In January when Boston University played the Under-18 National Team Development Program at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth (the Terriers also feature Red Wings' draft picks Robert Mastrosimone and Ethan Phillips), Kotskansalo said his "biggest goal was to play there (in Detroit)" but he was concentrating on the rest of the college season.
"I've taken on a leadership role this year," Kotskansalo said. "I like to consider myself a two-way defenseman but defense is my No. 1 priority. I'm getting some power-play minutes and that's where you get points but that's not my main role."