While there’s still no timeline for when the NHL’s 2020-21 campaign will begin, most of the top young skaters from the Detroit Red Wings’ minor-league system have been able to continue their development overseas, allowing them to participate in live games over the last two months.
Though this hasn’t been an ideal situation for any team across the league, playing overseas will likely help the majority of those players arrive to North America in mid-season form whenever training camp opens this winter. From the Red Wings perspective, two of their top young netminders have already enjoyed plenty of success across the pond and each of them has been able to continue working on their craft since the regular season opened in October.
Here’s how goaltenders Victor Brattstrom and Filip Larsson have performed up to this point in their respective campaigns:
After spending his entire career in Sweden, Brattstrom agreed to be sent to Finland to play with KooKoo of the Finnish Elite League and has since taken over the starting role in net. Despite enjoying a hot start to the season – posting a 2.01 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage through his first seven contests – the 23-year old has cooled off recently and hasn’t been able to replicate that same dominance this month.
Through 12 games, the former sixth-round selection has performed to a 6-4-2 record, producing a 2.44 goals-against average, .880 save percentage, 222 saves, two assists, along with one penalty.
Signing his two-year, $925K entry-level contract back in April, Brattstrom was expected to make his North American debut this fall, but that’s unfortunately been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, there’s a chance the 6-foot-5 netminder could be assigned to the ECHL or the AHL in 2021, although it seems more likely he’ll remain in Finland throughout the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign.
Following dominating performances in the USHL and the NCAA, Larsson earned an opportunity with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL last season – recording a 2.72 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage through 10 games – but the 22-year old struggled mightily to perform effectively over his short stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL.
Despite generating a 4.01 goals-against average and a .843 save percentage with the Griffins, the former sixth-round pick was still considered one of the Red Wings’ top young goaltenders heading into this off-season and he was looking to showcase his talents in his home country this fall. Suiting up for Almtuna in Sweden’s second-highest league, the 6-foot-2 netminder has made a strong impact during his small sample size to begin the regular season.
— Lars Thorsell (@LarsThorsell) October 10, 2020
Due to a league-wide outbreak of COVID-19, Larsson has been limited to just three starts this season, producing a 2.99 goals-against average, .900 save percentage, 63 saves, and one shutout.
With Almtuna returning to action on Nov. 25, the left-handed catching goaltender will now be able to continue building off his encouraging start to the season, especially since his loan agreement was just recently extended by Detroit. Whenever hockey returns to North America, he’ll likely be provided an opportunity to report to training camp before being assigned to the AHL for the 2021 campaign.