DETROIT – The Red Wings have completed their sixth consecutive defeat season, but there are still rumors in Motor City that one of the NHL’s top-tier franchises will finally regain its popularity.
Much of this has to do with Moritz Seider, the league’s best surprise in the 2021-22 season. The 21-year-old defender from Germany, who finished sixth in the overall standings in 2019, initially surprised many project observers, proving Seider deserved to be an early choice.
He showed humility and toughness, which are rare on freshman blue liners, as well as an insulting touch that inspired comparisons with former Wings defender Niklas Lidstrom. And after playing all 82 games, leading the Detroit skaters in mid-ice time and surpassing all juniors with 43 assists, he won the Calder Memorial Trophy for Team Player of the Year on Tuesday.
“He’s a rising star,” said former player and veteran NHL broadcaster Keith Jones. “At any time, a young defender can come and play so well, and with such maturity, it’s incredible. The child’s ceiling is very high. “
Seider received 170 of the 195 first-place votes from members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. He said he did not prepare a speech, but was able to joke again at the awards ceremony in Tampa, Florida, where Lightning will host Colorado in Game 4 of the final on Wednesday.
“My parents couldn’t do that,” he said. “They had just returned from Croatia and thought it was more important to go on holiday.”
Seider isn’t the only reason Detroit’s outlook has improved. Another newcomer, winger Lucas Raymond – ranked fourth in 2020 – finished third among beginners with 57 points and was fourth in the Calder poll.
The Wings also feature other rising stars from the early to mid-20s, including Dylan Larkin, who has scored 31 goals and made 38 assists this season; Tyler Bertuzzi, who scored 30 goals, with 32 assists; and defender Philip Hronek, who scored 38 points and blocked 81 shots.
The team was in the playoffs for most of the season and played more than 0.500 games in February, but injuries and a decline in goalkeeper play dragged on as the team won just seven of 28 games. Three of his victories in April came against some of the best teams in the league, including the third consecutive Stanley Cup title winner, Tampa Bay, but Detroit finished sixth in the Atlantic Division and was out of the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
The wings could use another high-level center and play better in the net. Alex Nedeljkovic, who played 52 games, scored an average of 3.31 goals from 1.90, the league’s best, a year before Carolina Hurricanes and Calder were finalists.
“They need a few more pieces, but it won’t take them long,” Jones said. “They’ll get there.”
Seider and Raymond’s project has boosted fans’ confidence that general manager Steve Ezerman and his talented vision will bring Detroit back to the glory it gained during the game. Yzerman, who brought three Stanley Cups to Detroit as a player, compiled a list of Lightning Cup winners before returning to the city in 2019.
The club has commitments in both first-round picks from last year’s draft, after Swedish defender Simon Edwinsson, who signed in April and is the sixth overall pick. Wings will also have №. The 8th selection of the 2022 project will be held in July in Montreal.
“There’s definitely a lot of noise around the team,” said Evan Lobsinger, a longtime Wings fan and host of the Winged Wheel Podcast. “This is the most exciting event I’ve seen in the fan base in a long time.”
The Detroit Renaissance was celebrated in many hockey circles. Wings, the original Six team, is the most successful NHL franchise in the United States with 11 Stanley Cups. Some of the biggest stars in the NHL – Gordie Howe, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Pavel Datsyuk – have a winged tire on their sweaters.
The Wings last won the Cup in 2008 and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final next year. Since then, the star players have not been able to make it to the semifinals of the conference as they retire, taking on project options and signing pale veterans. The Wings managed to win only 19 games in the 56-game season in 2021, and a total of 17 wins in 71 games before the pandemic forced the league to suspend the 2019-20 season. With the help of the 6-foot-4 Seider, the team has won 32 games this season.
Seider grew up in Erfurt, a city in eastern Germany with a population of about 200,000. However, when he got a chance to join Adler Mannheim’s development program at Deutsche Eishockey League, Germany’s top professional league, his family moved to the western part of the country to pursue their hockey ambitions. After gaining experience in international competitions and When he played for DEL at the age of 18, he was predicted to be a late first-round pick at best.
When Yzerman called him up for military service, Seyder sat up, his jaws empty and his eyes wide open, just before he stood up and hugged his mother. “It simply came to our notice then. 6 points, so I didn’t really pay attention, “Seider said in a phone interview at the end of the season.
Wings fans, many of whom have no idea who Seider is, were particularly troubled by several other key prospects, including the Anaheim Ducks phenomenon Trevor Zegras, who finished second in the Calder poll with 61 points. “When he was selected in the top six overall, it was a complete shock and disappointment,” Lobsinger said.
After spending 2019-20 with the Detroit American Hockey League branch and 2020-21 in the Swedish Premier League, he removed the Wings team from training camp this season. Before long, he was controlling the power game, killing punishments and crushing bones. He made eight productive passes in his first nine games, was named new player of the month in October, and scored his first goal in extra time in November to beat the Buffalo Sabers.
In a game in March, Seider found himself defending Connor McDavid’s attack from Edmonton, and when the Oilers star tried to turn the corner into a net, Seider quietly pulled the puck out of the game’s best player’s stick.
“Stevie Y, what are you doing?” I said. But Seider just blew me away, ”said Lon Grantham, a high school girls’ hockey coach and Wings fan for four decades. “You have to have a strong D to fight. Every Cup team has an elite defender. Yes, I am optimistic about this person. ”
Seider said he was aware of some reactions to the project and used it as motivation. “I think going abroad and proving everyone was wrong gave me confidence,” he said. “I’m just trying to do that.”
As for where the wings are going, Seider said the team is highly motivated to improve. “We may not look like we want to be a team, but the kids are really determined to be a playoff team in the future,” he said. “Everyone is sick and tired of losing. Everyone is working hard to take the next step. “