Four other Detroit Red Wings prospects likely to begin the year in Grand Rapids that we should monitor.
Another name to watch is Carter Mazur. The third-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings would follow that tremendous season with another one this past year, with Denver scoring 22 goals totaling 37 points over 40 games. After joining the Griffins, Mazur totaled three goals and six points over six games.
Mazur will likely start the year in Grand Rapids unless he performs exceptionally well during training camp. Mazur eventually will see an opportunity to become a regular in Detroit, and his skill set, attitude, and grittiness somewhat mirror former Red Wing, Tyler Bertuzzi. Detroit is missing that sandpaper type of player, and the Jackson, Michigan native can fill the void.
Yzerman expects to see Mazur in Detroit sooner than later.
"“He looks like an NHL player for me,” Yzerman said. “He skates well, has good hands and knows where to go on the ice. He’s gonna be on our team and I think he’s gonna be a real good player for us sooner than later.” “He’s really a good little player,” Yzerman said. “He’s a very creative and competitive guy. Is he in there running guys over and knocking guys out? No, but he drives to the net, somehow gets into the corners first and makes plays. He’s a very entertaining player. Can he take that to the American League or to the NHL one day? I hope so. He certainly has the ability to do that. He’s gonna have to adjust playing against bigger, stronger and faster guys.”"
William Wallinder, 20, enjoyed an excellent season with Rogle BK Angelholm (same team as Kasper) this past year, recording seven goals and 26 points over 50 games before signing a three-year entry-level contract (ELC) with the Detroit Red Wings at the end of March. The ELC will begin this upcoming season.
Yzerman had been impressed with Wallinder’s development overseas but admitted he’s got work to do.
"“He’s developed very nicely over in Sweden,” Yzerman said. “He’s got a lot of work to do. He’s over here right now and has only played one game. He’s dealing with an injury, so would have liked to see him play a little bit more. Expect him to be back over here next year, but he’s worked hard and come a long way. He’s got a lot of work to do still.”"
Albert Johansson is another defenseman chomping the bit, hoping to earn a role in Detroit. The 22-year-old scored five goals and added ten assists in 53 games with the Griffins before suffering an undisclosed season-ending injury on March 4. Yzerman mentioned that he was quite pleased with Johansson’s development this season. The young defender is expected to be fully healthy before the start of the season.
Last but not least, Sebastian Cossa. Cossa backboned the Toledo Walleye, finishing his first professional season with a 26-16-4 record with a 2.56 goals-against average and 0.913 save percentage in 46 regular-season games.
"“We’re all very pleased with Sebastian’s season to date,” Yzerman said. “He struggled early in the season. We decided to leave him in Toledo because we knew he was gonna get a lot of starts and it was gonna be a challenge for him. What I can really say is that his attitude has been unreal.”"
Cossa will be expected to start next season in Grand Rapids after his stellar season in Toledo. It often takes goaltenders quite a bit longer to develop than skaters. Yzerman will remain patient with his first-round selection, and we can expect to see the 6-foot-6 netminder paired with Ville Husso with the Detroit Red Wings in a few years.