A sign of how far away the Red Wings are from being a competitive NHL team is exemplified by how wide GM Steve Yzerman is willing to cast his net in search of catching a potential diamond in the rough.
Looking for system depth for their defense, the Red Wings signed undrafted college free agent Wyatt Newpower to a two-year entry-level contract on Monday. At the NHL level, Newpower’s contract will have an $800,000 cap hit.
Newpower certainly has NHL size. He checks in at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He’s also a right-hand shot, a quality always coveted among NHL blueline corps.
The 23-year-old rearguard played this season with the AHL Cleveland Monsters. That’s the top farm club of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He turned down an offer from the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs to sign with the Monsters.
UPDATE: The #RedWings today signed defenseman Wyatt Newpower to a two-year entry-level contract.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) May 31, 2021
After joining the Monsters, Newpower relocated to Cleveland for the summer of 2020. He worked out with veteran NHL forward Nathan Gerbe of the Blue Jackets.
Newpower collected 3-7-10 totals in 24 games, including one power-play goal.
A captain at Connecticut, Newpower proved to be capable of making a contribution at both ends of the rink. A captain at Connecticut, He led all Huskies defensemen with 3-19-22 numbers in 2019-20. Newpower posted a team-best plus-23 rating, which was good for fifth overall in the conference. He tied for the team lead with six multi-point games. Newpower also ranked ninth in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 1.24 per game.
Newpower was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team in 2019-20 as well as winning the 2020 Hockey East ’47 Best Defensive Defenseman Award.
A late bloomer, Newpower played just 15 games as a sophomore. Instead of pouting, he met with Huskies coach Mike Cavanaugh, asking what he needed to do to improve. Newpower lived in Connecticut full-time the next two years. He dedicated himself to an offseason four-day-a-week regimen of weight training, footwork, speed work and yoga, as well as playing in a summer league.
The scouting report on Newpower is that he is a leader type. He’s viewed as very coachable, a steady defender capable of chipping in on the offensive side of the game.
Wyatt Newpower – D
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) June 1, 2021
From Hugo, Minn., Newpower captained White Bear Lake high school as a senior. He led the team in scoring with 20 points in 25 games. In 2015-16, he was a candidate for the Reed Larson Award. The trophy named for the former Red Wings defenseman recognizes Minnesota’s top senior boys’ high school defenseman.
The fact of the matter is that for the most part, signing college free agents isn’t a path to developing future NHL talent. Consider how quickly 2019 free-agent forwards Ryan Kuffner and Taro Hirose became irrelevant in the Red Wings’ plans. Forward David Pope couldn’t even cut it as an AHLer.
As well, Connecticut isn’t exactly an NCAA powerhouse. The only Huskies alum currently in the NHL is Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson.
Still, considering the Wings’ situation, Newpower offers enough potential upside that he’s worth a roll of the dice.