The June 1 deadline to for signing drafted players came and went and with it, the Detroit Red Wings were crossing three names off their list of prospects.
The team apparently was making the decison not to tender contracts to defenseman Alex Cotton, forward Otto Kivenmaki and goaltender Jesper Eliasson.
— Drafting Hockey (@DraftingHockey) June 2, 2022
Of the three, Cotton is probably the most surprising pass. Splitting the 2021-22 WHL season between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Vancouver Giants, Cotton accounted for 15 goals and 38 points. Cotton was stepping up even more signficantly in the playoffs. He counted 6-10-16 totals in 10 postseason games with Vancouver.
The 132nd overall selection in the 2020 NHL entry draft, Cotton’s skating was the weak part of his game. That coupled with the full cupboard of defensive prospects already in the Detroit pipeline were conspiring against his chances of getting a contract from the Red Wings.
Standing 5-foot-9 and weighing only 172 pounds, Finnish forward Kivenmaki was going to need to be a standout on the ice to overcome concerns about his physical limitations. That simply didn’t happen. Kivenmaki was good for 18 goals in 212 SM-liiga games with Assat and Pelicans.
Eliasson’s resume is even more underwhelming. He’s played all of two games in the SHL with Vaxjo. Eliasson spent two seasons with Almtuna in Hockey Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second division. After posting a 4.33 GAA, .842 save percentage and 0-9-0 record in 10 games this season for Almtuna in 2021-22, Eliasson wound up finishing the season on loan to Vasby of HockeyEttan, Sweden’s third-tier league. There his GAA was 3.11.
Cotton, 20, will re-enter the NHL entry draft. Kivenmaki and Eliasson, both 22, become unrestricted free agents as far as their NHL rights are concerned.
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