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Should Red Wings fans be concerned about the Yzerplan?

Just one Red Wings prospect was playing in the recently-completed World Juniors



Red Savage, Detroit Red Wings prospect
Red Savage was the only Red Wings prospect playing in the World Junior Tournament.

And there was one. One Detroit Red Wings prospect in the recently-completed IIHF World Junior Championship. Forward Red Savage of the NCAA Miami Redhawks, a 2021 Detroit draftee, won a bronze medal with the USA.

A year after a record nine Red Wings draft picks were skating in the tournament, Savage was alone on the world junior stage in terms of representating Detroit’s future. And that should definitely be cause for concern.

Let’s face it, the 2022-23 season isn’t playing out as a banner year for Red Wings prospects. Rookie forwards Jonatan Berggren and Elmer Soderblom are certainly creating hope for the future in Detroit. At the same time, in all honesty is has to be noted that Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider aren’t playing nearly as dominant a role as sophomores like they were doing a year ago as first-year NHLers.

Red Wings Prospect Buzz Is Fading

A year ago, there was a palable buzz about the number of quality prospects who were either in Detroit, with the AHL Grand Rapids Girffins, or playing starring roles for European clubs. It was the same in prior seasons as Raymond, Seider and Joe Veleno were working their way up the ladder.

There’s no such excitement about the next wave of European Red Wings hopefuls, at least not yet.

Beyond defenseman Simon Edvinsson, Detroit’s sixth overall pick in the 2021 NHL entry draft, the new defensemen with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins aren’t setting the world on fire, according to NHL scouts who’ve seen a lot of the likes of Albert Johansson and Eemil Viro. And the reports on goalie Sebastian Cossa are that his play has been erratic and inconsistent at best.

Among the next crop of future hopefuls, defenseman William Wallinder and Marco Kasper, Detroit’s top pick in the 2022 draft, are playing key roles with Rogle of the SHL. Beyond that pair, there isn’t much to create excitement among Detroit picks playing in Europe.

Niederbach, Dower Nilsson Demoted

This was supposed to be the year that forward Theodor Niederbach established himself in the SHL and Liam Dower Nilsson made a breakthrough as a senior player. Instead, both were given demotion to the Allsvenskan, the Swedish Second Division, barely two months into the season. Pavel Buchelnikov is playing in Division 2 in Russia. Besides, he’s signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL through 2025, so he won’t be seen on this side of the Atlantic Ocean for a couple more years.

In NCAA hockey, Denver’s Carter Mazur is second in the nation with 16 goals. There is also excitement about Amadeus Lombardi of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds, who rates among the league’s top scorers and has already signed an entry-level deal with Detroit. On the other hand, Mazur’s University of Denver teammate defenseman Shai Buium, a 2021 second-round pick of the Red Wings, was cut from the USA squad prior to the tourney for the second year in a row.

Featuring just one player at the World Juniors is the worst performance by the Red Wings organization since current GM Steve Yzerman was still playing for the club. In 2005, no Red Wings prospects were picked for the tournament. Every year since until this year, there’s been a minimum of two Detroit picks skating in the event.

Red Wings Prospects in World Junior Tournament

Year Total Players (Country)
2023 1 Red Savage (USA)
2022 9 Sebastian Cossa, Donovan Sebrango (CAN), Jan Bednar (CZE), Eemil Viro (FIN), Simon Edvinsson, Theodor Niederbach, William Wallinder (SWE), Carter Mauzr, Red Savage (USA)
2021 7 Jan Bednar (CZE), Eemil Viro (FIN), Gustav Berglund, Albert Johansson, Theodor Niederbach, Lucas Raymond, Elmer Soderblom (SWE)
2020 4 Jared McIsaac (CAN), Moritz Seider (GER), Eemil Viro (FIN), Jonatan Berggren (SWE)
2019 4 Jared McIsaac, Joe Veleno (CAN), Filip Zadina (CZE), Malte Setkov (DEN)
2018 4 Malte Setkov (DEN), Kasper Kotkansalo (FIN), Filip Larsson, Gustav Lindstrom (SWE)
2017 3 Filip Hronek (CZE), Villi Saarijarvi (FIN), Joren Van Pottelberghe (SWI)
2016 6 Joe Hicketts (CAN), Villi Saarijarvi (FIN), Evgeny Svechnikov (RUS), Christoffer Ehn, Axel Holmstrom (SWE), Joren Van Pottelberghe (SWI)
2015 5 Joe Hicketts (CAN), Julius Vahlatalo (FIN), Christoffer Ehn, Axel Holmstrom (SWE), Dylan Larkin (USA)
2014 2 Anthony Mantha, Jake Paterson (CAN)
2013 3 Xavier Ouellet, Jake Paterson (CAN), Martin Frk (CZE)
2012 5 Petr Mrazek (CZE), Teemu Pulkkinen (FIN), Mattias Backman (SWE), Tomas Jurco, Marek Tvrdon (SLV)
2011 4 Andrej Nestrasil (CZE), Teemu Pulkkinen (FIN), Calle Jarnkrok (SWE), Mitch Callahan (USA)
2010 3 Andrej Nestrasil (CZE), Tomas Tatar (SLV), Brian Lashoff (USA)
2009 2 Joakim Andersson (SWE), Tom McCollum (USA)
2008 3 Shawn Matthias, Logan Pyett (CAN), Joakim Andersson (SWE)
2007 3 Darren Helm (CAN), Mattias Ritola (SWE), Justin Abdelkader (USA)
2006 3 Jakub Kindl (CZE), Anton Axelsson, Mattias Ritola (SWE)

Shallow Prospect Pool?

While every player who skates in the World Junior doesn’t go on to be a stellar NHL player, or even an NHLer for that matter, the vast majority of those who make the NHL do come through the tournament. On Detroit’s current roster, 21 players performed in the event.

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Should Detroit fans be harboring a level of concern about where the so-called Yzerplan is currently situated? While it’s far too early to be completely writing off these young, still developing players, it must also be said that at this current juncture, the future potential of Detroit’s prospect pool seems much more shallow than it did a year ago.

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Could always be better, but for where they landed in the draft they are doing well.

I think most fans knew Wallinder, Kasper and Dmitri Buchelnikov were good picks. Then add Lombardi and Mazur. Right now, it is a waiting game.

Ken Youmg

If fans aren’t concerned, you should be.

Tom Rady

Ok Ken what do u think they should be doing? Throw all the Illitch money at the elite players to get them to come here? I hear that a lot. Thats not realistic. One they are not going to come until we start winning big. Two the great player s will go to the contenders first. Are we better? A little bit yes. Husso for the most part has been very good but is wearing down from overwork. It could be worse.


Please explain. Thank you


I give the Yzerplan an A+ especially compared to Kenny Hollands last 10 years of draft picks. There are a number of prospects in the pipeline- you forgot James last year 2nd Rd pick. Everyone knows how the lottery has treated the Red Wings but, we will not cry over spilled milk. There is still a moving window for the DRW. I think Yzerman is limiting himself to certain ages in the FA and trade front. That will change as the team develops.

I don’t want anyone else doing our player acquisition and development.

stoic ronin

sorry, but i think this take is poorly reasoned. looking at our prospects’ lack of participation in this tournament as being indicative of a dearth of talent in the pipeline, it should be noted that both simon edvinsson and marco kasper were eligible for the tournament but had other responsibilities 😉

and, for what it’s worth, the maple leafs don’t have any players in the tournament.

the “yzerplan” isn’t simply the draft. it involves hiring front office staff, coaching staff, signing free agents, and managing day-to-day roster moves.

also, your list of red wings prospects that played in the tournament isn’t really that stellar.

playing in the tournament is certainly a nice accomplishment. beyond that, especially when it comes to forecasting future success of any players/teams, there really isn’t much there.

Gordon Cheswick

While DRW has a lot of players that could be here in 2-4 years, there are just as many being demoted because they are not working out. I would like to know why DRW cannot produce a goal scorer?!?
I have always stated that ALL of our prospects must be in Detroit or GRG. I was a bit disappointed in SY’s plan when he brought in so many UFA’s. I could see 2-3 and surface a good team until prospects develop and move onto the roster. I am very afraid a couple of these UFA’s will have to be traded, with DRW holding 1/2 of their caps.

Tom Rady

Gordon I understand but remember u cannot have a lot of kids on the roster unless they are playing a lot in key roles. Thats why Bergren is staying, but Elmer and Edvinson are in GR. They were not going to play enough in Det. Also lets say we?start losing a lot more? Steve does not want kids to be overwhelmed by losing. Thsts why he wants them in GR experiencing some?success. Its?a delicate balance

Robert Alpiner

I still believe in the Yzerplan. If you look at the team when he took over versus how they are doing today, the difference is night and day. Still not a playoff team, but headed in the right direction. If Yzerman was able to make the Lightning Stanley Cup winners, he can do the same here. Even Joe Sakic needed many years before the Avalanche won the Cup. The goal here is not just to make the playoffs, but to contend for Stanley Cups every year.


From another poster and very telling…

Since Yzerman took over we’ve been through four drafts and what have we got that worked, still may work, haven’t worked out?

Moritz Seider – Jackpot
Antti Tuomisto – Likely to be signed this spring
Robert Mastrosimone – Unknown
Albert Johansson – Hit
Albin Grewe – Looks to be a miss
Ethan Philips – Probably a miss
Cooper Moore – Unknown
Elmer Söderblom – Hit
Gustav Berglund – Miss
Kirill Tyutyayev – Probably a miss
Carter Gylander – Unknown

Two players on the roster, another one in GR and a fourth likely signed later this year.

Lucas Raymond – Jackpot
William Wallinder – Will be signed this spring
Theodor Niederbach – Likely to be signed this spring
Cross Hanas – Hit
Donovan Sebrango – Hit
Eemil Viro – Hit
Sam Stange – Unknown
Jan Bednář – Still in the mix
Alex Cotton – Miss
Kyle Aucoin – Unknown
Kienan Draper – Unknown

One on the roster, three in GR, two more probable signings this year.

Simon Edvinsson – Hit
Sebastian Cossa – Hit
Shai Buium – Looking good so far
Carter Mazur – Looking good so far
Redmond Savage – Looking good so far
Liam Dower Nilsson – Looking good so far
Oscar Plandowski – Likely a miss
Pasquale Zito – Likely a miss

Two in GR, four promising.

Marco Kasper – Hit
Dylan James – Unknown
Dmitri Buchelnikov – Unknown
Anton Johansson – Looking good so far
Amadeus Lombardi – Hit
Maximilian Kilpinen – Unknown
Tnias Mathurin – Unknown
Owen Mehlenbacher – Unknown
Brennan Ali – Unknown

Two players already signed.

In those four short years we have 3 roster players, 6 developing within the organisation, 2 signed and on their way, 3 likely signings this spring, and 9 promising prospects.

That’s a massive haul of 11 signed players and another 12 looking good enough to be signed in the near future.

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