The pulse on this season of Red Wings hockey, more so the interest of the fanbase, is wavering. As to be expected as the doldrums of January and now February wane on. It’s only a matter of time until some new faces resurrect the excitement level of the team. That process has already started with Filip Zadina and Givani Smith, both of whom are pushing for 30 and 20 games in the NHL, respectively.
But in the land of prospects, development is the deciding factor in who gets the call to Detroit. Both Zadina and Smith are proving the NHL is the next step in their progression. As the trade deadline nears later this month, the clock is ticking on the likes of Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno, and Michael Rasmussen, among others. The Griffins being in the midst of a playoff push is another wrench thrown into this equation.
Likewise, we are sure to see a select few. Seider and Gustav Lindstrom are expected to have nine game tryouts later this season. Those experiences are the ones that make the biggest difference to a player’s mindset. To get a feel for the speed and pace of the NHL level can only come from first-hand point-of-view.
And with that, the door is left open for anyone’s interpretation for what the future holds. On the flip side, the development that is so important trended in the right direction for certain players. For others not so much. The start to 2020 had its fair share of both.
Michael Rasmussen was sidelined for nearly two months. What was interesting about the entire situation was how much the severity of the injury was downplayed. Playing his last game in mid-November, no timeline on his return was disclosed.
No matter what the injury was or how much it hampered Rasmussen, this could be a sign of the former No. 9 pick being injury prone. Two years ago in his final WHL season, Rasmussen missed a lengthy amount of time with a wrist injury. Early in this current season he missed five games as well.
Whatever the case may be, it is nice to see him return to the lineup. And his presence was felt early on, scoring two goals in his second game back. On the powerplay he has returned as the primary screen option. I felt as though, however, his impact was lessening each night. Nothing to worry about, though. Rasmussen has been great overall this season.
The question I have to ask is when will we see him return to Detroit? I think he could be apart of that post trade deadline wave of recalls. Having already burned the first year of his entry level contract will help make that decision a little easier as well.
The ultimate goal will be to transition him back to center. During his run with the Red Wings in 2018-19, Rasmussen played on the wing. Now he is manning the top-line center role for the Griffins. It’s becoming more and more evident he’ll have to be a crash and bang kind of pivot, rather than a pure skill center, so I could imagine him on a line with Givani Smith and Adam Erne. Luke Glendening is another option.
The powerplay is where he’ll earn the big bucks.
In defense of Cholowski
Dennis Cholowski took a lot of heat from those that have watched him closely in Grand Rapids. For similar reasons that got him sent down in December, the defensive side of his game isn’t as polish as one would hope. Like many young defensemen, you have to take some of the good with the bad.
Obviously everything is case-by-case, a player such as Madison Bowey has become a polarizing figure in Detroit for his defensive lapses and not-so high-end offensive ability.
But in defense of Cholowski, when things are going right there is a real sense of a future top-4 defender being in there. Players with his skating ability and vision don’t grow on trees.
The areas of improvement require more and more on-ice experience. I noticed Cholowski struggled with seeing the next play. Whether it’s not identifying the next forechecker or playing with too much patience, neither one of those plays to his strength: being aggressive on the breakout.
Cholowski’s time with the Red Wings might have had some influence here. They tend to retreat to their own zone and wait until the forwards are in perfect position, which runs themselves into tricky situations. The NHL game is too fast to wait it out for the perfect play.
The play above is from the same overtime as the previous clip. Cholowski fails to sell the fake and the puck is given away. It’s that mentality of retreat (or in this case stay retreated), rather than use your feet and get out of the zone. Settling for the retreat play will set up miscues more often than not.
Across the pond in Sweden, our friend Elmer Soderblom had a long month in terms of travel. In total, Soderblom skated in three different leagues — SHL, Allsvenskan, and SuperElit — two of which are pro leagues. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the big man has shredded the Swedish junior ranks. In three games in the J20 league, Soderblom scored three goals and nine points. His size has allowed him to dominate inferior competition.
As gaudy as those numbers appear, it’s no surprise he failed to register a point during his time in pro. What’s important, however, is the fact that he’s receiving promotions. While the J20 league was on break, Frolunda loaned Soderblom to Tingsryds AIF in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second tier pro league.
Five games with Tingsryds means a lot for his development. Soderblom is the classic case of not good enough for the top league, but too good for the lowest league. The Allsvenskan is a happy medium.
Soderblom has since returned to Frolunda J20 as the club resumes play. But it is certainly nice to see Frolunda taking initiative with his development. As a raw talent, it’ll be interesting to see where Soderblom’s game is at next season.
- Joe Veleno and Moritz Seider both played prominent roles at the World Junior Championships. The two returned to Grand Rapids happy with their experiences.
- Veleno and Jared McIsaac took home gold for Canada at the WJC. Jonatan Berggren and Jesper Eliasson were apart of Sweden’s bronze medal winning team.
- Speaking of Berggren, some unfortunate news was revealed back in mid-January. The Skelleftea forward will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
- Taro Hirose is adapting well as a member of the Griffins. He’s filled a much needed playmaking role, registering 10 assists in 11 games in the month of January.
- Keith Petruzzelli and the Qunnipiac Bobcats pulled of a huge upset victory over No. 1 ranked Cornell. Petruzzelli made 22 saves in a 5-0 win.
All the statistics below are from games played in January. 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||10||4||8||12|
|JOREN VAN POTTELBERGHE||NLA||3||2.36||.926||1-2-0|