The Detroit Red Wings should consider giving Taro Hirose, 26, another look at the NHL level. The Red Wings could use another crafty depth forward with the number of injuries they’ve suffered this season, and Hirose is having another spectacular season down in Grand Rapids.
Hirose somewhat burst onto the scene with the Detroit Red Wings in 2018-19, signing as a free agent following his spectacular college career at Michigan State. During his final season with the Spartans, Hirose recorded 50 points, including 15 goals in just 36 games. That followed a 12-goal, 42-point season the year prior.
Hirose made an immediate impact with the Red Wings recording seven points in ten games to close out the regular season. Hirose impressed head coach Jeff Blashill and company enough to earn a roster spot to start the following season. Hirose struggled to find the same immediate success in 2019-20, starting as a ‘regular’ recording just seven points over 26 games with the Red Wings before being sent to Grand Rapids. The crafty winger saw immediate success with the Griffins that season, notching 27 points in 35 games.
Hirose only appeared in six games with the Detroit Red Wings in 2020-21, recording two assists and then notching four points over 15 contests last season.
Taro Hirose deserves another opportunity to stick with the Detroit Red Wings.
Hirose performed exceptionally well last season, with the Grand Rapids Griffins recording 15 goals and 53 points in 59 games. Hirose, along with Jonatan Berggren and Riley Barber, led the attack for Grand Rapids last year. Berggren led the way with 64 points in 70 games, followed by Hirose and Barber, each with 53.
I have nothing against Czarnik, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hirose give Detroit’s fourth line a bit of a boost. The former Spartan is leading the Griffins this season with nearly a point-per-game pace amassing 19 points in 20 games. Hirose isn’t considered to be a sniper but is a proven playmaker that has familiarity playing with Joe Veleno and Berggren with the Griffins.
The Detroit Red Wings have been bitten by the injury bug this season and won’t have Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Zadina, or Robby Fabbri available until mid-January. Rookie Elmer Soderblom is also currently on injured reserve, but his play substantially cooled off before being injured. Some time in Grand Rapids seems like it would do Soderblom a world of good before he makes a return to Detroit.
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This season, Detroit elected to use players like Matt Luff, Givani Smith, and Austin Czarnik in short stints to fill in for injuries. They’ve also called up their top forward prospect Jonatan Berggren, and it appears even if the Red Wings have a healthy roster, he will remain in Detroit.
I wonder if Yzerman fears Hirose is one of those top-rated AHL players that can’t find the same success at the next level. Another name of this nature that comes to mind is Matt Puempel. Puempel had been a first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators following his stellar junior career but could never ‘find it’ at the NHL level, but performed exceptionally well during his time with the Griffins.
Nevertheless, Hirose is performing at an extremely high level and deserves another look in Detroit. Somewhere there are some Griffins’ die-hard fans yelling at their device at the notion of losing another one of their top players and hoping the Red Wings get healthy quicker than anticipated so Grand Rapids can have their best roster in place.