Happy New Year!
2020 has arrived and that means the always busy December has concluded. Of course, the World Juniors are the focal point of hockey during the holiday season, and it was certainly a thrilling opening round, but other prominent news involving prospects from the Red Wings farm system were making waves. Specifically on the college front, as two Detroit prospects announced their commitments for the 2020-21 season, as well as the debut of a 2015 draft pick after a lengthy transfer process.
It was a fun month, no lie. Below is the full December report:
WJC preliminary round recap
Detroit has five prospects currently over in the Czech Republic for the World Juniors — Joe Veleno and Jared McIsaac for Canada, Jonatan Berggren and Jesper Eliasson for Sweden, and Moritz Seider for Germany — and it’s been an intriguing start to the tournament for a select few.
Veleno and Team Canada have been the most prevalent in the headlines. After defeating the United States 6-4 in the opening game, no one had anticipated the disaster that transpired versus Russia. The Russians grabbed a three goal lead in the first period and the pressure was on. Looking to spark his team, projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft Alexis Lafreniere drove the net hard looking for a goal. Instead, he suffered a brutal injury that could have ended up much worse. That took the air out of the Canadian bench and they went on to be blown out 6-0.
Yet, somehow, matters only got worse the following day. The IIHF slapped Veleno with a one game suspension for a head butt. Despite the “head butt” lacking any sort of egregiousness, the black and white nature of the IIHF rule book couldn’t save Veleno.
That, unfortunately, would cost Red Wings fans a chance to see Veleno square off with fellow Detroit prospect Moritz Seider. No Veleno and no Lafreniere didn’t stop Canada from routing Germany in a 4-1 decision. A big time loss for Seider and the Germans, who badly needed the game to stave off being on the brink of the relegation round.
Earlier in the tournament, Germany pulled off an upset win over the host Czech Republic which sets them up for a chance at a quarter final appearance. The Czech Republic’s earlier win against Russia completely change the complexity of Group-B. That meant it was a must win game for Germany and they showed up. Seider was instrumental in the victory, registering three assists as the quarterback of the German’s lethal powerplay.
Dominik Bokk (#LetsGoCanes) puts the Germans ahead 3-1 on the powerplay!
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) December 28, 2019
And while the hope seemed real, a date with Canada and Russia spoiled Germany’s return to the top group. Despite making all four games competitive, their lone win came against the Czech Republic. That wouldn’t be good enough to crack the top-4 of Group-B, as the Czech’s earned a massive point against the United States.
Now, Seider and Germany are off to the relegation round to take on Kazakhstan, who, miraculously, survived relegation last year. So despite going 0-4 in the prelims, the Kazakhs aren’t as easy of an out as one would expect. Nevertheless, Germany’s consistent play in the “Pool of Death” makes them the easy bet to remain in the top group. If all of their top players return next year (excluding Dominik Bokk who will be too old), they could be a serious threat to medal.
Elsewhere, in Group-A, The Swedes have enjoyed another dominating preliminary round. Remarkably, Sweden has won their last 52 preliminary games, a streak spanning all the way back to 2007. Berggren has played a key role in their 4-0 start, posting one goal and five points. He even nearly scored one of the goals of the tournament:
— Anton Johansson (@antonj85) December 28, 2019
Jesper Eliasson’s only start came against Kazakhstan and he cruised to victory, having to only stop 17 of 19 shots in a 6-2 win. Sweden finished the preliminary round atop of Group-A.
The full statistics for Red Wings prospects in group play can be seen below:
Two Red Wings prospects announced their NCAA commitments for next season this month.
Antti Tuomisto, who we discussed in the November report, made his decision. Tuomisto will play for the University of Denver, announcing his commitment via Instagram with a photo of him signing his national letter of intent.
Tuomisto signing his national letter of intent (picture via Tuomisto's IG) pic.twitter.com/xmuxkCPZWb
— WingsNation (@thewingsnation) December 17, 2019
Denver is an excellent program that just recently developed Filip Larsson. The Pioneers won the 2017 national championship, and have appeared in the Frozen Four three of the last four years. Tuomisto is currently playing for Assat’s junior league team in Finland and has posted 31 points in 30 games.
The second commitment came from Ryan O’Reilly, a 2018 4th rounder. Ironically a former Denver commit, O’Reilly announced his commitment via Twitter to Arizona State University.
— WingsNation (@thewingsnation) December 13, 2019
O’Reilly is currently playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, and has recorded 19 points in 22 games. The Arizona State program has been on the rise in recent years. They reached the 2019 NCAA Tournament, an impressive feat for an independent-conference program. Their most recent player to turn pro was Joey Daccord, a 23-year-old goaltender currently in the Ottawa Senators organization.
- Filip Zadina has played 16 games for the Red Wings. The Czech winger is showing improvement in his game, but what does that mean for his immediate future?
- Filip Larsson was demoted to the ECHL after a rough first go at the AHL level. He started three games, posting a .886 save percentage, before going down with injury. He has since been recalled to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
- Not official yet, but Jared McIsaac is expected to join the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL following the conclusion of the World Juniors.
- Carter Gylander was selected to play at the World Junior A Challenge back in early December. He appeared in two games for Team Canada West.
- Oliwer Kaski was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for 23-year-old defenseman Kyle Wood. Kaski only spent a few months with the organization after signing as a free-agent in the Summer.
- Robert Mastrosimone and Otto Kivenmaki came up just short of making their respective nation’s roster for the World Juniors. Both were cut late into camp.
- Patrick Holway played his first two games for Merrimack, debuting on Dec. 29. Holway had last played for the University of Maine in October of 2018.
All the statistics below are from games played in December. This section only includes regular season stats, so no tournament numbers are included. To keep track of each prospect’s season on a game-by-game basis, make sure to check out the Red Wings Prospect Master Schedule spreadsheet:
|ANTTI TUOMISTO||JR. A SM-LIIGA||4||2||3||5|
|JOREN VAN POTTELBERGHE||NLA||3||3.06||.899||0-2-1|