Much of the future of the Detroit Red Wings will be on display next month in Traverse City, Michigan as the club is playing host to their annual NHL rookie tournament Sept. 14-17. The likes of Sebastian Cossa, Marco Kasper, Elmer Soderblom, William Wallinder, Carter Mazur, Amadeus Lombardi, and Cross Hanas will be suiting up for Detroit.
At the same time, a number of players who’ll be wearing Red Wings colors during the tournament will be displaying their, seeking to also show that they are worthy of a pro hockey future.
Full 2023 #DRWPT roster. ⤵️
Who are you looking forward to watching?! pic.twitter.com/rLYjDpO9JE
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 24, 2023
Along with the elite draft picks and pro prospects already locked into the Red Wings organization, nine free agents will be playing for Detroit. These few days of competition can be the difference for them as to whether they’ll be continuing in hockey as legitimate developmental pieces.
While the odds are certainly against these players, lightning does strike for them on occasion. Two free agents playing for Detroit in this event a year ago were ultimately earning pro contracts. Defenseman Jeremie Biakabutuka was signing with the St. Louis Blues. Forward Riley Piercey would go on to earn an AHL pact from the Bridgeport Islanders.
Will any of this year’s crop do likewise? Time will tell but for the time being, let’s get to know who these hopefuls are.
Uberti Gettting Second Chance With Red Wings
Right-winger Jake Uberti will be playing his second consecutive season for the Red Wings in this event. He spent the last season as an overager in the OHL with the Mississauga Steelheads and in the QMJHL with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Despite tallying just six goals last season, center Matyas Melovsky led the QMJHL Baie-Comeau Drakker in scoring with 58 points.
Right-winger Dean Loukus is from Calumet, Mich. His 56 points last season would earn him a share of the team scoring lead with the OHL Saginaw Spirit. Another right-winger, Nic Sima split his OHL campaign last season between the North Bay Batallion and the Spirit.
From Mistissini, Que., left-winger Israel Mianscum might be the most fascinating prospect among this year’s crop of free agents. From the Quebec Cree Nation, Miansum was in attendance at the development camp of the Montreal Canadiens in the summer of 2022. He potted 30 goals last season with the QMJHL Sherbrooke Phoenix.
Just 18, netminder Lucas Matecha was posting a stellar .940 save percentage a 1.44 goals-against average in two games this past season with Czechia’s under-18 national team. He’s slated to play in 2023-24 with the WHL Tri-City Americans.
Connor Punnett, Finn Harding and Jackson DeSouza face perhaps the biggest challenge of any of the rookie free agents. They’re all defensemen, and Detroit is absolutely loaded right now with rearguard prospects.
Punnett put up impressive offensive numbers with the OHL Barrie Colts in 2022-23, accounting for 14 goals and 34 assists in 66 games. Playing last season with the OHL Steelheads, Harding, 18, previously was playing Tier II for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. That’s the former team of Red Wings defenseman Jake Walman. Colorado-born DeSouza, 20, has spent the past five season in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets.