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3 Takeaways From the Red Wings First Game of the Prospect Tournament

Hockey is BACK! Finally, the annual prospect tournament in Traverse City got underway and the Red Wings opened their tourney with a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a good game, a fast game. The Wings went down 4-1 in the first period, but clawed back in the second only to lose the game in overtime. Despite the loss, the Red Wings had a solid showing from some of their prospects. Here are my three takeaways from this evening’s game:

1. The power play of the future is going to be GOOD.

The Wings had many power play opportunities tonight and converted on three of them. That’s right: three of their four goals were on the man advantage. While two of them came from Ryan Kuffner and Jared Lukosevicius on the second unit, the first unit looked exceptional.

Manned by Taro Hirose, Joe Veleno, Moritz Seider, Filip Zadina, and Givani Smith (net-front), this power play unit dominated while they were on the ice. They moved the puck really well, anticipated the play, and created scoring chances. Twice Hirose made a perfect behind-the-back no-look pass to Moritz Seider who wired wrist shots from the point. Seider and Zadina communicated perfectly, swapping positions along the left boards to keep the cycle alive. Veleno scored his second goal of the night on the power play off a perfect pass from Zadina behind the net.

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This unit was just clicking all night. It was a beautiful sight for sore eyes after watching the Red Wings NHL power play unit for the last two seasons.

2. Moritz Seider is impressive.

There were a lot of tilted heads when Steve Yzerman made the Seider pick at 6th overall at this Summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Mine was one of them. But since his draft day, Seider has continued to impress with his on-ice skills. It started at the development camp back in May (where he looked like the Red Wings best defenseman) and continued tonight at the prospect tournament.

He was far and away their best defenseman and even their best player, especially in the first period. He played a complete 200-foot game, rushing the puck up the ice and consistently putting it on net. He had a goal called off at the end of the first period. He played physically, especially against the Blackhawks star prospect Kirby Dach, who was taken three spots ahead of him at the draft.

Seider really uses his size to assert dominance on the ice, while at the same time using his speed to drive to the dangerous areas of the ice. He has an intelligence that anticipates the play, but knows when to back off. The more I watch him, the more I like this pick for the Red Wings. I am excited to see where his development takes him this year.

3. Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina are going to be awesome linemates.

It took them a while to find their groove. They were practically invisible in the first period.

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But in the second period, Veleno scored twice. On the first goal, he capitalized on a miffed play by a Chicago defensemen right in front of their own goalie. The move Veleno made in close was crazy good. The second goal came off a beautiful feed from Zadina on the power play.

These two players had great 2nd and 3rd periods, working the puck well together. Zadina really wanted a goal and was driving to the net at every opportunity. His level of competitiveness really becomes apparent with this aggressive drive. He didn’t always hit the net, but he always put himself in position to do so. You can tell that his shot is going to haunt NHL goalies for years, but he’s got to find a way to hit them with it first. He’s almost there. So close.

As for Veleno, this kid’s got really smooth hands. He can handle the puck really well, moving it out of danger, and then quickly finding a teammate in the open. I was impressed with how quick his instincts led to good decisions.

These players obviously all still have a long way to go, but it’s nice seeing how well they stack up against prospects from other teams. It is an exciting time to be watching young players in the Red Wings system. We’re only a few years away from seeing them in the winged wheel.

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The prospect tournament continues tomorrow afternoon with a game against the St. Louis Blues at 3 p.m. ET.