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Red Wings pick Donovan Sebrango hopes to separate himself with grit, skating ability

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — When you devise a mental picture of an old-age defensemen, you have this big, bruising player who punishes fast-skating forwards with thunderous hits and thinks defense first.

And these days, the popular model is they are generally small, fast and offensive-minded.

Kitchener defenseman Donovan Sebrango was taken in the third round by the Detroit Red Wings.

Donovan Sebrango, one of two Red Wings’ third-round draft picks in October’s NHL Draft, is a combination of the two.

Which, in the long run, could bode very well for the Wings.

“I’m a little bit of an old-school defenseman with a little bit of the new school,” Sebrango said during a media Zoom call after the draft. “I’m a pretty tough, gritty kind of guy. But I add offense, so I have a little bit of the old-age hockey in me, and kind of the new-era of offensive defenseman.”

Sebrango, 18, is listed as 6-foot-1, 189 pounds, and on some mock drafts was projected as a possible second-round pick.

The Wings drafted Sebrango 63rd overall, so it’s not like he was a reach, by any means. If anything, maybe the Wings got lucky adding a sturdy, versatile defenseman who doesn’t generate a ton of headlines, but can play a steady, no-nonsense game.

“He’s a good skating defenseman who plays with an edge,” said Kris Draper, the Red Wings' director of amateur scouting.

More: Red Wings draft pick Alex Cotton prepared to show big season was no fluke

Sebrango was watching the NHL Draft on a bit of a delay and didn’t realize he had been picked by the Red Wings until the Kitchener team trainer tracked Sebrango down.

“He texted me and was saying congrats,” Sebrango said. “I asked him what was happening and then the TV came on and it said I was going to Detroit.”

Sebrango plays for Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League but is currently competing for a spot on Canada’s world junior team.

The Canadian camp began Monday and runs through Dec. 13 in Red Deer, Alberta. The world junior championships are in Edmonton – in a bubble similar to what the NHL had there – from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.

The grit factor, the desire to not shy away contact but rather initiate it, is definitely a big part of Sebrango’s resume.

Sebrango may have gotten some of that physical edge from his father, Eduardo, who was a former professional soccer player in Cuba, and played for Montreal in Major League Soccer.

But, you can’t overlook or dispel the smooth skating ability that many scouts mentioned often when discussing the young defenseman.

Sebrango would list his skating as his biggest strength.

“Jumping in the rush late, moving the pucks quick and hopping in where there’s an open lane, or not going out of my comfort zone, that’s when I find I get more offensive chances,” said Sebrango of his offensive strengths. “But I always kind of relate to just the simple play. Simple passes, tape to tape, and that’s where the offense leads from.”

Sebrango admitted he was anxious the second (and final) day of the draft, after seeing some friends get drafted in the first round.

Sebrango was also looking to attend the draft in Montreal, before the pandemic roared in and erased that event.

Experiencing the draft virtually, and the uniqueness of that event, along with finally getting selected by the Wings, made the entire process memorable.

“It was a great experience for me,” Sebrango said. “It’s a difficult process not knowing where it is you’re going, but it was a great experience for me.

“To be drafted by them is such an honor. I just hope one day I can make them proud and be on the team.”

Seider stays in Sweden

Defenseman Moritz Seider will not play In December’s world junior championships in Edmonton.

Seider, 19, the Wings’ 2019 first-round draft pick, would have represented his native Germany, which he did successfully last season.

Seider, who was Germany’s captain, had six assists in seven games at last year’s world junior championships.

But Seider is currently playing for Rogle (two goals, five assists in eight games) in the Swedish Elite League, and would miss several valuable weeks of games while preparing for the world juniors, which begin Dec. 25.

Seider will complete the season in Rogle, then join either the Wings or minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.

Donovan Sebrango

► Pick: No. 63 overall (Round 3)

► Position: Defenseman

► Height / weight: 6-1 / 189

► Last season: Kitchener (OHL) — 56 games, six goals, 24 assists

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan