Detroit Red Wings: A couple of surprises at the World Championships

(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images) /

Although a few household names are skipping the World Championship tournament, a few surprises are set to attend. Team USA recently announced its roster, which included prospect Carter Mazur. Team Canada, which was put together by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, and Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, includes defenseman Jake Walman and a surprise addition of Joe Veleno. Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Alex Tanguay will be on Canada’s bench in a similar role.

This past year, Walman, 27, enjoyed a breakout season with the Detroit Red Wings. He totaled nine goals and nine assists over 63 games and was a plus-10. Walman worked his way up the left side of Detroit’s lineup, eventually unseating veteran Ben Chiarot on Detroit’s top unit. Walman excelled playing alongside star defender Moritz Seider.

Where Walman would play had to be the worst-kept secret among hockey fans. The 27-year-old left-handed defender is a dual citizen and mentioned that he was interested in playing in the World Championship. When asked if he would represent Canada or USA, he shrugged it off with a smirk claiming that he’s a free agent. With Armstrong and Yzerman at the controls for Canada, there was little doubt where the Toronto native would play. On Friday, Team Canada posted their roster on social media, and it indeed did include Walman.

Also representing Canada will be Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno.

Joe Veleno is one of the surprises for Team Canada. Veleno, 23, didn’t exactly have a stellar season with the Detroit Red Wings this past season but settled nicely into a depth role. Veleno seemed to gain confidence as the year went on and proved to be a reliable piece in Detroit’s group of bottom-six forwards.

Veleno totaled nine goals and 20 points this past season over 81 games. The young, speedy center skated to a minus-12 rating while maintaining a Corsi For Percentage of 44.8% while averaging just shy of 13 minutes of ice time per evening.

This past season had been just Veleno’s second year as a regular with the Detroit Red Wings. As a rookie last season, he recorded eight goals and 15 points over 66 games. Under head coach Jeff Blashill, Veleno averaged just over 13 minutes per night in a similar role as was asked of him by first-year head coach Derek Lalonde this past season.

It’s been highly documented since the conclusion of the regular season that the Detroit Red Wings want to be a tougher team next year. And as Yzerman recently described, ‘tougher doesn’t mean signing a 6-foot-6 player to beat people up.’ Yzerman may want to bring in a couple of ‘bangers’ this offseason, but reading the tea leaves of his end-of-season press conference, he seems like he wants some of the players currently on the roster to be a bit more challenging to play against.

Veleno recently spoke to this notion.

"“That’s definitely one of the things I want to bring to the table,” Veleno said during an end-of-season Zoom call with media. “I have the size for it and the ability to be hard to play against. It doesn’t necessarily mean I have to, or should, go out of my way to run guys. I don’t think I’m that type of player. But what I can do is bring intensity and physicality and win more puck battles, races (to the puck). Winning that first battle on the faceoff. “In general, just be a pr— to play against.”"

A pair of the Detroit Red Wings’ young guns are off to a good start at the Worlds.

Again, although Detroit Red Wings players like Dylan Larkin, Ville Husso, Andrew Copp, and Moritz Seider have elected to skip the World Championships, there are other representatives to follow.

Dominik Kubalik will represent Czechia, plus Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren have joined Team Sweden.

Raymond and Berggren, along with Leo Carlsson, a top draft prospect in the upcoming 2023 NHL Entry level draft, teamed up for a beautiful goal this past Thursday.

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Carlsson is expected to be the third choice in the 2023 NHL Draft, following the consensus top pick Connor Bedard and Michigan’s Adam Fantilli.