(Editor’s Note: This is the sixth installment in Detroit Hockey Now’s Tomorrow’s series about Detroit Red Wings’ prospects)
The Red Wings like bigger players and need right-shot defensemen. The signing of 6-foot-5 Antti Toumisto checks off two boxes on the Detroit want list.
Toumisto is still a relatively raw prospect. But he played impressively enough this season for TPS Turku (SM-liiga) to earn his contract. He made a significant jump in his level of play.
“Antti’s a guy who’s maybe taken a little bit longer to get over here then some but not in a negative capacity,” said Shawn Horcoff, the Red Wings’ assistant general manager. “I just think he’s a big kid who was underdeveloped. I think he needed some time.”
UPDATE: The #RedWings today signed defenseman Antti Tuomisto to a two-year entry-level contract beginning with the 2023-24 season.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 19, 2023
Former Denver Player
Toumisto, 22, played two seasons of college hockey, helping Denver win a national championship two seasons ago. He then opted to return home to start his pro career and registered five goals and 20 points in 60 games. Detroit prospects Carter Mazur and Shai Buium were also on that NCAA title team.
“Last year we saw him take a step forward in his development,” Horcoff said. “He played very meaningful minutes and did very well in that league.”
Horcoff said Toumisto was signed with idea that he would “step into Grand Rapids next season.”
“We’re all hoping he can come in and step in right away and win a position on that back end and be good for us right away,” Horcoff said.
Analysis: The lack of right-shot defenseman is a problem for the Red Wings. Right-shot D men are harder to find. That’s why the Red Wings are willing to be patient with Toumisto’s development. GM Steve Yzerman undoubtedly will consider his right-shot D man options in the free agent and trade markets. Yzerman prefers not to have defensemen playing on their off side “unless that’s a position they’ve been playing on their off-hand for a long time.”
Forecast: Toumisto (drafted 35th overall in 2019) will need a full season in Grand Rapids, and to add more muscle to his frame, to take his game to the next level. There are other young defensive prospects ahead of him on the depth chart and he needs to outwork some players to get to Detroit.