Draft picks Seider, Veleno to finish the season at Grand Rapids
Discussing why Moritz Seider, left, and Joe Veleno won’t join the Red Wings this season, GM Steve Yzerman said: “There are valid reasons for just leaving them where they are and letting them do their thing.”
It doesn’t seem likely that either Moritz Seider or Joe Veleno will be called up from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League to the Red Wings this season with 14 games remaining.
That’s not because of the Wings’ miserable season, worst in the NHL at 15-48-5 and 35 points. It’s because the Griffins are in a tight playoff race, and Seider and Veleno are key contributors to the team.
And that’s good for the Red Wings long term. Seider, Detroit’s first-round draft pick (sixth overall) in last year’s draft, and Veleno, who was taken with the 30th overall pick in 2018, are playing in competitive, meaningful games in their first professional seasons, something that will only help the pair’s development.
“There are valid reasons for just leaving them where they are and letting them do their thing,” said GM Steve Yzerman during his media availability just after last week’s trade deadline. “So we take it all into account, and, if there comes a time we have to make a decision, we will. But right now, all those kids are going really well. They’re playing a lot of minutes in significant roles. And they’re in a dogfight to make the playoffs. We want that team to make the playoffs. There’s a lot of value for everyone there in playing in the playoffs.”
Seider, 18 and 6-3, 209 pounds, has two goals and 18 assists and is plus-five in 46 games. The right-shot defenseman was impressive in captaining Germany in the World Junior Championship and plays a lot of minutes in Grand Rapids. But he has missed the last four games with an injury.
“We’re really pleased with his development,” Yzerman said. “At the start of the season, I thought he would average 17 minutes, 18 minutes maybe. I looked at the ice time recently, he’s been 25, even 27 minutes a game.
“An 18-year-old D-man in that league, it’s tough. He’s playing in all situations, and he’s touching the puck.”
Veleno, a 20-year-old center who also played in the World Junior Championship for Canada, has 11 goals and 11 assists and minus-26 in 51 games.
“Joe Veleno has had a real good year,” Yzerman said. “His numbers aren’t great, but he’s played in all situations. I think the coaching staff there has done a really good job being patient with him, allowing him to play a significant role. I think he’s really thrived.”
Grand Rapids head coach is Ben Simon, who guided the Griffins to their franchise-record seventh consecutive playoff appearance during the 2018-19 season. He also played an integral role in helping the club win its second Calder Cup in 2017. Among his assistants is former Red Wing and UM alum Mike Knuble.
Also playing at Grand Rapids is Michael Rasmussen, who spent the 2018-19 season with Detroit. The ninth overall pick in 2017, Rasmussen is back to playing his natural center position after playing wing last season with the Red Wings. Detroit envisions the 6-6, 230-pounder as a shutdown defensive center who also contributes offensively.
But he has missed two months with a back injury and has seven goals and 14 assists and is minus 6 in 22 games.
“He had a good start to the season, missed some time with a back injury, got back in just before Christmas, and he’s playing regular and just kind of grinding it out,” Yzerman said.
Detroit has only two non-emergency call-ups remaining for the season.
“I’m really pleased with how they’re all doing,” Yzerman said. “They’re helping our team down there. They’re playing important roles and they’ve kind of embraced it. They’re not sitting there as three first-round picks with a sense of entitlement. They’re working hard and doing the things necessary to become good NHLers.”