Red Wings: 2021 Preseason Preview and Storylines

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to pass around David Kampf #64 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at the United Center on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to pass around David Kampf #64 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at the United Center on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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DETROIT, MICHIGAN – MAY 01: Joe Veleno #90 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on May 01, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – MAY 01: Joe Veleno #90 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on May 01, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Spotlight on the prospects

All eyes are on Moritz Seider. It’s his first year back in North America since dominating the Swedish Hockey League and earning SHL Defenseman of the Year. He’s been penciled in as a day-one starter, so now the preseason isn’t a battle to make the roster – it’s a tune-up. Expectations will be high for Seider in his first year and the preseason will be his first test. However, SHL players and NHL players are not the same. Seider isn’t going to come in and immediately dominate like he did in Sweden. It’s going to take some time adjusting to the best hockey league in the world. The preseason will be a good place to calibrate reasonable expectations for Seider’s upcoming season.

Right behind Seider is Lucas Raymond. With Seider as a lock for the main roster, Raymond’s preseason performance has to be impressive if he wants to make an early run at the roster. Octopus Thrower’s Nate Brown put it perfectly in his article on Jakub Vrana’s injury:

"Another name to certainly keep an eye on: Lucas Raymond. The 19-year-old seemingly has the best shot since Dylan Larkin to crack the roster following a strong prospects tournament, a steady camp, and now, with just one additional hurdle to clear: the preseason slate of games. Raymond’s hockey IQ that was lauded by scouts and analysts has been on full display during the prospects tournaments, during camp drills, and in the Red and White game. Should Raymond hold his own and pitch in offensively with some goals during the preseason, it will certainly give  head coach Jeff Blashill some reason to consider him more."

Jonattan Berggren is another European prospect close to making the main roster. While he hasn’t had quite the fanfare of Raymond, Berggren actually had a much stronger season in the SHL. He tied for first in points scored by U-25 players in the entire SHL, nabbing 12 goals and 33 assists in 49 games. Berggren’s an excellent offensive playmaker, with great puck control, offensive drive and passing abilities. Although he’s likely to start in Grand Rapids, Berggren is going to be a fun player to keep an eye on throughout the season and many Red Wings fans will get their first extended look at him in the preseason.

Joe Veleno is very, very close to making the main roster. At the end of last season, Veleno got his first chance to play with the Red Wings, where he scored his first NHL goal in five games and looked very comfortable in the pros. He also had a strong offseason of strength and conditioning, becoming visibly larger (and shredded). Add to that a strong prospect tournament, where Veleno looked like the best player on the ice at times. Also, considering that Veleno is competing for the weakest position on the team, center, there’s a possibility that a strong preseason showing can bump Veleno above Stephens on the depth chart.