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Photo Credit: NHL.com

2019 Red Wings Top Prospects #2: Moritz Seider

We’re back for the 2nd to last prospect profile, today looking at the #2 ranked player in the Red Wings system, 2019 1st round pick Moritz Seider:

Overview

Moritz Seider is an 18 year-old defenseman who played this past season for Adler Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), which is the German men’s hockey league. Seider was taken 6th overall by the Red Wings in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft out of Zell, Germany. Seider is listed at 6’4”, 207 lbs. and shoots right.

Career Arc

Moritz Seider is now the talk of Hockeytown after being selected so highly by the Red Wings in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and it’s important to look back and figure out how he got here. Being from Germany, Seider often played against people much older than him due to the lack of robust competition in a country that is not known for being a hockey powerhouse. For example, in 2013-14, his age 12/13 season, he played in a U16 league. He played two years there before switching clubs to Mannheim’s U16 team in 2015-16, where he played 1.5 seasons, after which he moved up to the DNL, which is the highest German junior league, a U19 league. At that point in time, Seider was 15 years old, so still playing a fair bit ahead of the curve.

The following season, 2017-18, Seider was close to a point-per-game as a defenseman in the DNL and Mannheim’s organization began to recognize that it was close to time to call Seider up, giving him a small taste of the DEL at age 16 before placing him there permanently this past season, 2018-19. There, Seider played 29 games, posting 2 goals and 4 assists for a rather pedestrian 6 points, but there’s a few things to remember. First off, he was playing in the DEL which is a tough, tough league for young guys. While the talent may be better in the SHL or the Liiga, the DEL is to me, harder for young players. It’s the European league with the highest amount of North Americans, populated by former AHL (and in some cases, NHL) grinders who will push and shove a young guy around. Seider’s own team, Adler Mannheim, features Ben Smith and Andrew Desjardins, who you may remember as solid role players on a few of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup teams from 5 years ago. There is real talent in the DEL, it just tends to be old and washed up, physically aggressive. Seider was also playing on the best team in the DEL (they won the championship) and on a team filled with veterans, for a 17 year-old to get minutes, he needed to just not make mistakes. That could lead to a more defensive style of play that didn’t put up the huge numbers that scouts look for.

Furthermore, there was a stark contrast in Seider’s production when he played in the international competitions this past year. He appeared in 12 games on Germany’s U20 international team (again as a triple underager), scoring 13 points in those 12 games, including 7 in 5 games at the U20 World Juniors. Now it’s important to note that that was against subpar competition since Germany plays some of the lesser known countries (France, UK), but Seider was still playing against guys who were mostly significantly older than him and set the world on fire. He also played at the World Championships, where he played against some of the best NHL players in the world, again many of whom are far older than him, and he put up 2 goals in 5 games, a respectable line. All of this led the Red Wings to believe that the offensive potential is there, it’s just buried in a player who was not given a chance to showcase it often this past season due to circumstance/quality of regular competition.

Prospect Profile

The scouting reports on Seider read something like this:

Pros:

  • Great in his own end

  • Phenomenal skater for a big dude

  • Knows where to be at every moment of the game, incredibly high hockey IQ

  • Played with men, and is thus far more mature than prospects of a similar age

Cons:

  • Does he have the offensive capacity to be a top pair defenseman in the NHL?

  • Low production in the DEL

The good news is, with a prospect as highly touted as Seider, we have a lot of highlights to show. Most recently, we have clips from the Red Wings’ Prospect Development Camp, where Seider showed off his smooth skating ability and flashed quite a bit of offensive upside. Max Bultman of The Athletic ($) had an excellent breakdown of some of Seider’s best shifts here. You can also find a highlight reel of Seider from the 2018-19 season in this YouTube video, featuring clips from his international play and German-league play. A Twitter thread from a guy named Evan has a nice selection of Seider plays from a game in the World Championships against the Czech Republic, and the full game can be found on YouTube here.

Future Projection

The selection of Seider initially riled up Red Wings fans because he was compared to Brandon Carlo by the NBC Sports presentation of the NHL Draft, which, while Carlo is a good player, would be a disappointing result for a player drafted so highly. Instead, I think Seider’s peak if everything goes well is a love-child of Colton Parayko and Zach Werenski. Parayko is slightly bigger than Seider (6’6”) and is arguably the most dominant shutdown defender in the league (see: 2019 Stanley Cup Final), though lacks to some degree offensively, while Werenski is slightly smaller than Seider (6’2”) and is one of the more creative offensive players in the league but can lack defensively. Thus, I think Seider could fall somewhere in between, better defensively but not as good offensively as Werenski, while also being better offensively but not as good defensively as Parayko. All things considered, that kind of projection would be a bona fide top pairing defender on a championship team, which is what I think Seider’s ceiling is. If he hits it, he could be a franchise player.

As for this upcoming season, that is pretty up in the air. He could play in the DEL, AHL, NHL, or OHL in theory. The only one that I’m sure is out of the question is the OHL, because playing with junior league players after having been accustomed to men would be a gigantic step back in his development process, to me. He needs to be in a men’s league somewhere. He also probably won’t be in the NHL even though I think he could survive (and would probably be better than Ericsson or Daley) largely because the Wings have a defensive logjam on the NHL roster and there’s no reason to rush Seider’s development. Thus I think it comes down to the Griffins or sending him back to Germany and I honestly don’t know what Yzerman & Co. prefer. Putting him in GR is a slight step up in competition and is obviously much closer to home for the Red Wings to monitor. On the other hand, Mannheim has been a very open club as well and I think would surely allow the Wings to be hands on with Seider as well. Whichever they choose, it is quite unlikely to see Seider in the NHL this year. However, I think his ETA is probably the 2020-21 season, where he will be 19/20 and will almost certainly be in Grand Rapids for some part of the year, but that is the season where we will probably begin to see him get called up.

Best case scenario: Top pairing shutdown defenseman in the NHL
Worst case scenario: Stay-at-home third pair NHL defenseman