With the Red Wings schedule slowed down due to the NHL’s juggling of what would have been the Olympic break in February, it felt appropriate to catch up with some of the Red Wings’ draft picks of recent year. With lots of draft capital throughout this rebuild, the Red Wings have put themselves in a position to have some of these picks become NHL talent.
Mazur has easily been the biggest surprise out of the Red Wings 2021 draft class. Drafted as an over-ager, Mazur has excelled in his freshman year at Denver University alongside fellow Red Wings’ draft picks Shai Buium and Antti Tuomisto. Mazur currently sits 5th on the Pioneers in scoring with 27 points in 25 games and 6th in the entire NCAA for U20 players, behind top-5 2021 picks Matt Beniers and Kent Johnson. Mazur plays a unique style; he’s a hard-forechecking winger with a strong defensive mind but is also to generate offense at a high level.
Mazur was also selected to play for the United States for the World Junior Championship but was only able to play in a single game due to the tournament being shut down. Lassi Alanen from Elite Prospects put together an eye-opening graph showing how impactful Carter Mazur has been in the NCAA this year.
Out of the last year’s draft, Mazur was being looked at in the public sphere as one of Detroit’s bigger reaches as he had already been passed over in the 2020 NHL draft and was viewed as having a ceiling of being a bottom-six defensive winger. At the rate Mazur is progressing, he might end up being Detroit’s next mid-round steal.
If there were a way for Red Wings fans to convince Steve Yzerman to sign Edvinsson to his entry-level contract and steal him away from Frolunda, they would have done it weeks ago. Edvinsson has excelled playing on Frolunda’s top-pairing and looked dominant in the two games he played for Sweden in the World Junior Championship, scoring once and adding two assists.
Edvinsson has only played two games since rejoining Frolunda, as he tested positive for Covid in early January. Still, through 26 games this season, Edvinsson has a goal and 11 assists, with additional four assists through 10 games of Champions League play. The 6’5 blueliner has shown his ability to use his size to defend and then transition the puck up ice into the offensive zone. Edvinsson’s play in the offensive zone is exceptional as he’s able to play up and down the boards, looking to make a play towards the net.
As a defender of his size, Edvinsson’s skill set is rare and will be a much-needed addition to the Red Wings’ blue line as soon as next season.
Albert Johansson was selected with the 60th pick in the second round of the 2019 NHL draft, which was acquired from San Jose as a part of the Gustav Nyquist trade. Johansson signed his entry-level contract with Detroit just a year after being drafted and has been on loan to Farjestad BK of the SHL the past two seasons.
Playing in Sweden, Johansson has developed into one of the top young defenders in the entire league as he currently sits first in SHL U21 defensive scoring as he has 19 points in 38 games played, which ties his last season total. Johansson is a dynamic skater and can transport the puck out of the defensive zone and create offense off the rush, a skill Detroit’s blueline desperately lacks.
In this play, all of Johansson’s best traits are on display, as he motors around the net, fakes out the defender, and goes end to end to set up the overtime winner. Johansson will be a dark horse candidate out of training camp to earn a roster spot on Detroit’s blueline, with all of the entire left side of the current defense on expiring contracts. Most likely, Red Wings fans can look forward to seeing Johansson in Grand Rapids playing big minutes on a young, exciting team.
Soderblom has quickly become my favorite prospect in Detroit’s system. The 6’8 winger has really turned heads this season as he currently sits first in SHL U21, scoring with 14 goals and six assists in 34 games. He’s also chipped in another 9 points in 11 games in the Champions League, 6 of those being goals.
Soderblom is truly a unique player as he is able to play a high-skill game, stickhandling and making plays in small areas while being the biggest player on the ice. He’s been able to use that size to separate himself from opponents and create dangerous chances for himself or his teammates.
The 2019 6th round pick has improved year after year and is looking to be another late-round find from Red Wings’ Director of European Scouting, Hakan Andersson. With the way Soderblom has played in the SHL this season, the next step is coming over to North America and getting accustomed to North American ice. At the rate he is scoring at, maybe Soderblom challenges for a roster spot in Detroit next season.
Mastrosimone is a prospect that has gone under the radar over the past few years due to an injury last season and another two years’ worth of draft picks being placed in Detroit’s system. Mastrosimone is having a very productive season at Boston University, where he sits third for the Terriers in points with 21 in 27 games.
Mastrosimone has really heated up recently as he has five goals and an assist in his past six games, and the Terriers went 5-0-1 in that stretch. I watched Mastrosimone live in December, and the style he plays is similar to Tyler Bertuzzi. He’s not a big player (5’10 170 lbs), but he plays a hard-nosed style and never gives up on a play, even diving for a puck occasionally.
Mastrosimone can generate offense for himself in many ways, such as driving to the net and protecting the puck or finding a quiet area around the crease and making himself available for teammates.
With this goal here, we see Mastrosimone (#16) carry the puck into the zone and attempt to make a pass across the ice to his teammate that gets broken up. He moves towards the net and gets behind the Maine defenseman, making himself available for a back door goal.
With Mastrosimone’s progression this season and the youth movement coming to Detroit/ Grand Rapids, the Red Wings’ development staff will have a decision to make this summer whether or not to sign the 21-year-old winger after his junior year. Throughout Yzerman’s tenure, the message to the public from the Red Wings has been patience. I’d assume Mastrosimone will play his senior year at Boston University before turning pro.
After a lackluster season split between the USHL and WHL and a quiet Traverse City Prospect Tournament, there were some questions about Cross Hanas’s upside. So far, Hanas has been a surprise as he currently sits 18th in WHL, scoring with 49 points in 38 games, and really has heated up lately with 22 points in his past ten games.
Hanas was drafted in the second round of the 2020 NHL draft and was viewed as a “swing for the fences” pick as he has some glaring weaknesses but has a high level of skill and creativity. When Trevor Zegras pulled off the “Dishigan” assist in the NHL a few weeks later, Hanas was able to do the same thing.
Hanas will need to be signed to his entry-level contract this summer, and the way he has played this season, he will be a welcomed addition to Grand Rapids next October.
McIssac has been Grand Rapids’ best “feel good” story so far this season, as not many people were sure how he’d bounce back after suffering another injury in the Traverse City prospect tournament.
Since being drafted by Detroit, McIssac has faced a lot of adversity in his young career. In the summer of 2019, McIssac underwent shoulder surgery that led to him only playing in 28 games in the QMJHL. Last season, McIssac was loaned to HPK in Liiga due to the delayed start in the AHL. In his first professional game, the young defenseman suffered a similar injury to his other shoulder that required surgery and sidelined him for the next six months.
This season has been McIssac’s first full season since 2018-19, and he has been a mainstay on the Griffins’ blueline. McIssac has 5 points in his last ten games and 14 points in 39 games. McIssac ranks eighth on the Griffins in points and second for a defenseman, only behind last years’ AHL defenseman of the year, Ryan Murphy.
McIssac has been able to stay healthy so far this season and make an impact, earning top-four minutes while playing on the powerplay and penalty kill. Playing a large role on a team trying to fight its way back into the Central Division playoff picture will help McIssac in the coming years compete for a roster spot in Detroit with a log jam of left-handed defensive prospects.