Red Wings Top 25 Prospects – Pre-Draft Rankings

Welcome to our first Detroit Red Wings prospect rankings of the 2022 offseason, where I will be ranking the very best young players in the Red Wings’ system. This ranking article is intentionally being released just a few weeks before the NHL Draft on July 7 and 8, where the Red Wings will look to add to this list in a big way. Once the dust has settled in Montreal and we have some time to become acquainted with some of the Red Wings’ freshest faces, we will have another prospect ranking, including the newest wave of potential difference makers.

The Red Wings’ prospect pool isn’t quite at the level it was a year ago, but for the best possible reason. That reason is the incredible success of both Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, who both found great success in the NHL early on in their careers, culminating in Seider winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie. They were ranked first and second respectively on our rankings last season, so naturally, the prospect pool looks a bit leaner when it comes to top-end talent, but plenty of other players have shown this season that they are deserving of a higher ranking than they had last year.

Detroit Red Wings Top 25 Prospects Simon Edvinsson, Jonatan Berggren, Sebastian Cossa & Theodor Niederbach
Simon Edvinsson, Jonatan Berggren, Sebastian Cossa & Theodor Niederbach (The Hockey Writers)

Since this is an article where I will be ranking the top prospects that the Red Wings have, I think it would be helpful if I share my definition of what a prospect is so that we can all work from the same starting point. Here are my criteria for what makes a player a prospect: Firstly, a prospect is a player under the age of 23 at the time this article is released (or under 25 in the case of goaltenders since they typically develop slower). Second, a prospect is not a full-time NHLer (this leaves some wiggle room and is the reason Joe Veleno isn’t on this list). Lastly, a prospect is a player who is signed to either an NHL or AHL contract with the Red Wings organization or whose signing rights lie with the Red Wings.

Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Two prospects that I initially had on this list went unsigned by the Red Wings as the June 1 deadline came and went, so they will not be on this list. The players in question are the diminutive Finnish winger Otto Kivenmäki and Alex Cotton, who had a very impressive showing in the WHL playoffs this year. Since their signing rights with the Red Wings have now expired, they no longer qualify for this list.

With that all out of the way, let’s get started with the 25th best prospect of the Detroit Red Wings.

25. Kienan Draper – Right Wing, 20, Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)

After a rather disappointing draft year in the USHL in 2020-21, where he only scored seven points in 37 games, Kienan Draper decided to take his talents to the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), a Junior A league out of the Canadian province of British Columbia. In 53 games with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the 2021-22 season, he managed to net himself 23 goals and 50 points. 

Son of Red Wings legend Kris Draper, Kienan is a big winger (6-foot-1, 198 pounds) who has a good goal-scoring touch. He has committed to play for the University of Michigan for the 2022-23 season, which is an excellent opportunity for him to display his growth this season on a much bigger stage, provided he can regularly crack the lineup on such an excellent team.

24. Chase Bradley – Left Wing, 20, University of Connecticut (NCAA)

Chase Bradley had a respectable rookie year in the NCAA, scoring nine points in 29 games with slightly above-average defensive play for a rookie. The Red Wings’ 2020 seventh-round selection was excellent in the USHL last season, scoring 40 points in 52 games while smothering opponents with his defensive play. There is certainly some potential here, but Bradley seems like the sort of player who will need to play out his four years in the NCAA before he is ready for the AHL.

One positive thing to come out of the 2021-22 season for Bradley is that it seems he has reigned in his temper a bit. He was known for having a bit of a mean streak in the USHL, where he racked up 167 penalty minutes in 123 games. His tenacity hasn’t decreased by much, so it is good to see some progress when it comes to his discipline.

23. Oscar Plandowski – Right Wing, 19, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)

Oscar Plandowski is a fluid-skating defenseman who carved up the QMJHL in the 2020-21 season en route to being selected in the fifth round of the 2021 Draft by the Red Wings. Unfortunately, Plandowski’s offensive results fell off in a major way, scoring the same number of points as he did in the previous season, but in 25 extra games.

His skating looked every bit as great as it did in his draft year, but he will need to improve his offensive game next season if he wants to be included on lists like this one in the future. 

22. Sam Stange – Right Wing, 21, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

One of the more disappointing players in the Red Wings’ prospect pool this season was Sam Stange, who profiles as a winger with a great shot. The biggest weakness in his game was his skating, specifically how heavy and slow his mechanics were. Unfortunately, his skating has been exploited quite successfully in the NCAA.

He has improved his game defensively as well as improving his playmaking ability, but that has mainly been out of necessity as he has struggled to score, managing only 10 goals in 66 total NCAA games. For someone whose calling card is his shot, it would be great to see him score some more goals. He just turned 21 a few months ago, so he still has time to work out some of the issues with his skating, but time will eventually run out. Hopefully, he can show off his goal-scoring ability a bit more next season.

21. Ethan Phillips – Center/Right Wing, 21, Boston University (NCAA)

Ethan Philips is a solid two-way forward who displayed a bit more of his offensive ability this season in the NCAA. He was drafted in 2019 out of the USHL, where he was able to put up impressive offensive numbers while stifling opposing offenses. Jumping to the NCAA proved much more difficult for Phillips, though the identity of his game never wavered, and he has continued to grow into it.

Ethan Phillips of the Sioux Falls Stampede
Ethan Phillips of the Sioux Falls Stampede (courtesy USHL)

He only managed to play in one game last season, but once he made his way back into the lineup for the 2021-22 season, Phillips showed that he still has NHL potential as a bottom-six defensive forward. He earned 17 points in 28 games this season while continually improving his defensive skills against NCAA competition. If he can improve on offense and defense in the 2022-23 season, then he will be a likely candidate to earn an entry-level contract come next spring. 

20. Kirill Tyutyayev – Left Wing/Center, 21, Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)

This might be a bit lower of a ranking than Kirill Tyutyayev deserves, but he’s here because we haven’t been able to get a good read on his game for quite some time. He looked excellent in recent years while playing in the Russian junior league (MHL) and the second-tier Russian men’s league (VHL) before playing a full season in the top Belarussian professional league in 2020-21, where he scored 32 points in 43 games. 

Related: Red Wings’ Trade Options at 2022 Draft

Fans were excited to get a better look at him as he made his way to the Red Wings’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Injuries cut his season short, and he only ended up playing in nine AHL games, earning three assists. Unfortunately, 2021-22 was a bit of a lost season for Tyutyayev, but he was recently re-signed by the Griffins, who hope he can pick up where he left off and become an impactful player for them in the 2022-23 season. 

19. Pasquale Zito – Left Wing/Center, 19, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

This is where the prospect pool starts to get rather interesting. After a lacklustre rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in the 2019-20 season and missing the entirety of the 2020-21 season due to the OHL never getting the season off the ground because of COVID-19, there were naturally lots of questions around Pasquale Zito. The 2021 sixth-rounder quickly proved began to prove himself and show off his growth when the OHL season opened for 2021-22.

He had a great season in the OHL with 42 points in 49 games to go with his seven playoff points as his Windsor Spitfires made it all the way to the OHL championship before ultimately losing out to Anaheim Ducks prospect Mason McTavish and the Hamilton Bulldogs. By no means was Zito a star in the OHL this year, but he showed serious potential with his high-energy game. He should continue to improve in the OHL for another year or two before making the transition to professional hockey in Grand Rapids.

18. Jan Bednar – Goalie, 19, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

In a league known for high-flying offense, goaltending stats tend to suffer. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) often features plenty of 100-plus point players, so it is also common to see good goaltenders put up stats that are disappointing at face value. One such goalie is Jan Bednar, who followed up a rather uninspiring rookie season with a much-improved one. 

Bednar finished the season in a tie for the fifth highest save percentage (SV%) in the league at .912 and earned 28 wins in 47 starts. He has remarkable flexibility and speed for a goalie of his size (6-foot-4, 201 pounds), which he regularly shows off while making flashy diving saves. He could benefit from improved consistency, but if he is able to build on this season next year, then he is well on his way to earning a spot in Grand Rapids in a few seasons. 

17. Red Savage – Center, 19, Miami University (NCAA)

After falling to the Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, Redmond Savage was impressive in a big role for a team short on high-end talent. As a freshman, Savage scored 16 points in 35 games while maintaining his respectable two-way game. He is excellent in the faceoff circle and absolutely loves getting tough assignments in hopes of shutting down the opposing team’s best players.

Red Savage, USNDTP
Red Savage, USNDTP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

It would have been nice to see a bit more offense out of Savage as one of the team’s go-to options on offense, but you can live with that if he can continue to develop his defensive game. He will no doubt be a great AHL player in as little as a year or two, but his potential probably peaks as a fourth-line center who can play meaningful minutes on the penalty kill. 

16. Robert Mastrosimone – Center/Left Wing, 21, Arizona State University (NCAA)

One of the most versatile players in the Red Wings’ prospect pool is Robert Mastrosimone, who had his most productive NCAA season this year with Boston University before transferring to Arizona State University. Mastrosimone will be playing in his fourth NCAA season next year and will hope to improve on the impressive offense that he showed this season. 

He is one of those strange players who play such a versatile and supportive game that, at his full potential, he will either be the third-best player on a team’s first line or the best player on their fourth line. His tenacity, puck skills, and excellent wrist shot will give him a shot at the NHL, though the question remains whether his game as a 5-foot-10 winger will translate to either the AHL or NHL. 

15. Eemil Viro – Left Defense, 20, TPS (Liiga)

After an excellent season in Liiga in 2020-21, Eemil Viro seemed to stagnate a bit this year. By no means was he worse; he just couldn’t seem to take any steps forward. He is still a wonderful skater who excels in transition, but he needs to get better at setting up plays that lead to higher danger scoring chances.

He has already signed his entry-level contract with the Red Wings, so it seems most likely that he will play in Grand Rapids next season, which could be exactly what he needs. He seemed a bit too comfortable in Liiga this season, as if he wasn’t being challenged to improve. Hopefully, a full season in North America is just what Viro needs to jumpstart his development again and show the Red Wings organization how he can contribute to their future. 

14. Antti Tuomisto – Right Defense, 21, University of Denver (NCAA)

After a relatively disappointing season in the NCAA this year, Antti Tuomisto will be heading home to Finland to play for TPS in the Finnish Liiga. His season was better than his counting stats suggest this season, as he scored nine points in 35 games for the University of Denver while transforming into one of the team’s best defensive players and being given little to no time on the power play.

Tuomisto prospered in the Finnish junior league as the quarterback of his team’s top power play unit, but in Denver, he is behind two excellent puck-moving defenders in Sean Behrens and Michael Benning. If he is able to regain a bit of his confidence offensively while also showing off his newly discovered defensive skill, Tuomisto could become an important player to watch coming into Red Wings training camp before the 2023-24 season.

13. Liam Dower Nilsson – Center/Left Wing, 19, Frölunda HC (SHL)

Liam Dower Nilsson was one of the most dominant forwards in the Swedish U20 league this season, with a dizzying 50 points in only 34 games. He imposed his will on the players in his age group and ended the season with the fourth highest points-per-game rate of any player who played in 20-plus games. 

Even more impressive is the fact that he earned a spot in Frölunda’s SHL lineup in 10 games as a teenager. He was given minimal ice-time in those games and was unable to score any points, but it was a positive sign in his development for sure. He will likely play the entire season in the SHL in 2022-23 and will try to prove himself to the coaching staff to gain a bigger role.

12. Jared McIsaac – Left Defense, 22, Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)

It was great to see McIsaac play an entire healthy season this year in the AHL. This was the first year that he played over 50 games since the 2018-19 campaign in QMJHL. In his first full AHL season this year, McIsaac impressed both on offense, scoring 24 points in 70 games, and on defence, where he showed that his excellent defensive game could translate to the professional level.

McIsaac’s defensive positioning is great and worked well in the AHL this season. He will need to improve his processing speed (if that’s possible) to defend at such a high level in the NHL someday. He is likely going to be a great depth piece for the Red Wings who can join the NHL club and play well in a third pairing role and who can be excellent in the AHL. 

11. Donovan Sebrango – Left Defense, 20, Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)

In his first full AHL season, Donovan Sebrango didn’t look out of place. He was never some high-flying offensive defenseman, so his seven points in 65 games are a bit disappointing but not exactly surprising. His game has always been suited for a supporting role, which he showed off well this season with decent defensive results, especially because he played the first few months of the season as a 19-year-old.

Donovan Sebrango, OHL, Kitchener Rangers
Donovan Sebrango of the Kitchener Rangers. (Photo credit: OHL)

The biggest knock on Sebrango’s game is the lack of high-end potential. He certainly looks like a future NHLer, but he will likely top out as a third pairing guy or a depth piece on a great team. Unfortunately for Sebrango, the left side on defence is possibly the Red Wings’ deepest position in their prospect pool, with four lefty defenders higher than him on my list. He will be given plenty of time in the AHL to prove himself to management, and I hope he can carve out an NHL spot for himself someday.

10. Shai Buium – Left Defense, 19, University of Denver (NCAA)

Like most NCAA rookies, Shai Buium took a little bit of time to adjust to the increased competition of a higher league. However, unlike most NCAA rookies, Buium quickly figured the league out and had a stellar season both offensively and defensively. I am the first person to question the importance of the plus-minus stat, but Buium having a plus-20 rating in his rookie season is not nothing.

If Buium can improve his defensive game just a bit and continue to show growth in other areas, such as on power play and his decision-making on offense, then he could have a good shot at signing his entry-level contract at the end of his NCAA season next year to get a few NHL or AHL games in. As one of the youngest defenders in college hockey this year, Buium was very impressive and projects to be an everyday NHL defender with the potential to play meaningful top-four minutes.

9. Cross Hanas – Left Wing/Center, 20, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

After being drafted in 2020, Hanas split the 2020-21 season between the USHL and the WHL, where he didn’t appear to have taken any major steps forward in his development. He also showed his wild side a bit, with his tenacious forechecking game becoming a bit too reckless, in my opinion. He had 99 penalty minutes in 27 USHL games that season, which is almost impressive.

After a bit of a confusing and disappointing season, Hanas came out this year with a chip on his shoulder. He was a bit inconsistent early on, but as the WHL season continued, he improved and impressed at every turn. He finished the season with 86 points in 63 games and had the confidence to pull off some incredible skill moves, such as the Zegras assist. He is eligible to play in either the WHL or the AHL next season, so this summer will be an important one for his future.

8. Carter Mazur – Left Wing, 20, University of Denver (NCAA)

Few players from the 2021 NHL Draft have done more to impress in their first-year post-draft than Carter Mazur. Drafted in the third round, 70th overall, by the Red Wings, expectations were measured for him as he made the jump from the USHL to the NCAA. He flourished in his rookie season with 38 points in 41 games, which tied him for 28th in NCAA scoring, above many players who were drafted long before him in 2021, including Owen Power and Kent Johnson.

Related: Red Wings Draft Options at 8th Overall

Mazur will likely stay in Denver next year and play a bigger role on the team, with the NCAA’s leading scorer, Bobby Brink, likely making the jump from college to the professional leagues. If he can dominate once again with a bigger role, then I would expect Mazur to sign his entry-level contract in Spring 2023 and possibly play some games in either the NHL or AHL come next April.

7. Theodor Niederbach – Center/Right Wing, 20, Rögle BK

Six of the final seven prospects on this list are Swedish players, and three of them are going to play for Team Sweden at the upcoming 2022 World Junior Championships this summer. The first of those three is a playmaking forward, Theodor Niederbach. The young prospect found great success in his first full SHL season this year, scoring 16 points in 51 games. 

Niederbach has spent the last four seasons in the Frölunda HC organization, but the decision was made this May that he would be joining Rögle BK of the SHL for the 2022-23 season. Rögle has developed a reputation for giving young players big roles to shine while they prepare for the NHL, and surely Niederbach hopes they will do the same with him. This is the team that hosted Moritz Seider in the 2020-21 season and who currently plays Red Wings prospect William Wallinder in a prominent defensive role. 

6. Elmer Söderblom – Left Wing/Right Wing, 20, Frölunda HC

After recently signing an entry-level contract with the Red Wings, it is confirmed that Söderblom will make his way to North America next season. The towering 6-foot-8 winger was thought by many to be too tall to become an NHL forward (the main reason that he fell to the sixth round in the 2019 Draft), but his skating ability will give him a very real chance at success.

While Söderblom is likely to spend the first bit of next season in the AHL, where he can acclimatize to the narrower rinks and the play style of North American hockey leagues, he has a good chance at cracking the NHL roster at some point next season. I could even see him making the opening night lineup if his showing at training camp is sufficiently enticing for the Red Wings’ coaching staff, though I expect he will start the year in Grand Rapids before earning a spot in the NHL at the season’s midway point. 

5. William Wallinder – Left Defense, 19, Rögle BK

The first of a trio of excellent young Swedish defencemen on this list is William Wallinder, who was named the best U20 player in Swedish hockey at the end of his excellent season in the SHL. With the emergence of the two other members of the aforementioned trio, both also being left-handed defenders, it will be no surprise to see him return to the SHL next season to continue the progress he showed there this season. 

William Wallinder Rogle BK
William Wallinder, Rogle BK (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Wallinder spent much of the early part of last season earning his minutes and the trust of his coaches. He started the year as the team’s seventh defender but worked his way up to consistent top-four minutes as one of the team’s most important players. He should have a great opportunity next season to build from his first SHL season. 

4. Albert Johansson – Left Defense, 21, Färjestad BK

Albert Johansson has steadily improved his game over the last three years while playing a meaningful role in the SHL. After a great season in 2020-21, there were questions about him possibly joining the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate for the 2021-22 AHL season, but the decision was made to loan him to the SHL for one more season. That decision has paid off handsomely, with Johansson flourishing this year as one of the better young defenders in Sweden’s top league.

You can never have too many smart, play-driving defenders who are able to adjust their game for maximum impact depending on the skill set of their partner. Johansson has a real chance to make the Red Wings’ lineup out of training camp, but unless he makes it impossible to say no, it is likely that there will only be one Swedish defensive prospect cracking the opening night lineup, and he is still yet to come on this list. I doubt that the Red Wings will want to run with three defenders under the age of 22 early on next season, so I would expect to see Johansson play a large role in the AHL come the fall. 

3. Sebastian Cossa – Goalie, 19, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

The competition for the best goaltending prospect in the Red Wings’ prospect pool is quite slim, and the clear choice is Sebastian Cossa. After an inconsistent and somewhat troubling regular season, Cossa looked like the dominant force that Red Wings fans had come to expect when the WHL playoffs came around. 

In 19 playoff games, Cossa had a record of 16-3-0, with five of those wins being shutouts. There were a few games where Cossa let in a soft goal or two, but he was excellent at blocking that out and coming out the next night ready to absolutely shut down his opponents. He helped lead a stacked Oil Kings team to the Memorial Cup tournament as the WHL champions.

Our very own THW writer Tony Wolak did the arduous task of reading through the NHL-CHL transfer agreement so that you don’t have to, and he found that the 19-year-old Cossa is eligible to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL next season with the option to stay in junior for one last season. The decision on where Cossa lands next fall is incredibly important, and the Red Wings’ management group will be seriously weighing the merits of each option over the coming months.

2. Jonatan Berggren – Left Wing, 21, Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)

Jonatan Berggren is the best forward prospect that the Red Wings have, and it’s not particularly close. After a stellar 2020-21 season in the SHL, he decided to try his hand at North American hockey. He played the full season with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL, where he was an electric offensive contributor with 64 points in 70 games.

Jonatan Berggren Grand Rapids Griffins
Jonatan Berggren, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Berggren very well could have been promoted to the NHL squad part-way through the season, but rather than rushing him to the NHL, management decided to leave him to dominate for the remainder of the season as one of the very best forwards in the entire AHL. He is nearly a lock to make the team out of training camp at this point, and I expect him to work his way into the top-six forward group shortly after the season starts.

Related: Predicting Moritz Seider’s Career Based on Rookie Season

I expect Berggren’s game as a playmaking winger to translate well to the NHL, where he will likely be lined up next to some of the team’s best finishers both at five-on-five and on the power play. If next season goes well for him, I think it’s reasonable to predict he scores 40-plus points as a rookie.

1.Simon Edvinsson – Left Defense, 19, Frölunda HC (SHL)

There should be no doubt in Hockey Town that the best prospect the Red Wings currently have is Simon Edvinsson. In the lead-up to the 2021 draft, Edvinsson was a polarizing prospect who was seen by many as a project player with enticing potential. He took a huge step toward fully realizing that potential in his first full season at the SHL level, where he played over 20 minutes a game with positive results on both offense and defense.

Edvinsson wore an “A” on his jersey for team Sweden at the abbreviated 2022 WJC in Edmonton, where he looked dominant in his two-game sample size, scoring three points, including a short-handed goal on a breakaway against Russia. 

His size (6-foot-5, 207 pounds), skating ability, skill with the puck, and fearlessness are the things that made him the sixth overall pick last year. He also improved in some of the areas where some had questions, such as his decision-making under pressure and his control over his large frame while defending. He could still benefit from an improved shot from the point, but he will likely be an impactful defender in the NHL next season. The sky truly is the limit for Edvinsson’s potential. 

Red Wings’ Future is Bright

Get your sunglasses everyone, because the future is bright in Detroit. Three of the Red Wings’ top prospects (Simon Edvinsson, William Wallinder and Theodore Niederbach) have been named as members of Team Sweden as they begin preparations for the re-scheduled 2022 World Junior Championships, so be ready to cheer them on when the tournament starts later this summer!

Which picks on this list did you agree with? Which did you not agree with and why? Who do you think the Wings will take at 8th overall in a few weeks and where would they land on this list for you? Sound off in the comments below!