Much-ballyhooed Moritz Seider set to show he can compete for Red Wings
Traverse City — Since the Red Wings selected defenseman Moritz Seider with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, there have been great expectations.
Go on any social media forum and you will find fans prognosticating about Seider and his NHL future.
Seider isn't caught up in the hype.
"It's definitely not going in my head," he said Friday in a Zoom interview. "I just want to be around the guys and want to come to the rink and work hard. So far, I'm really enjoying that.
"It's obviously cool that fans are real excited, but I'm even more excited."
Seider, 20, said he is unshaken by any external pressure. He has yet to play in an NHL game.
"It's just how I handle myself through camp and preseason and we will see," Seider said. "I'm super happy where I'm at right now. It's been a big wait to get here and I'm proud of myself for just making that way up here and now.
"I'm really excited being here and want to earn a spot. That's what matters the most and I'm really happy to have that chance now, competing for a spot."
After starring for both Grand Rapids in the AHL two seasons ago, and Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League last season, Seider is ready to make the jump to the NHL.
Coach Jeff Blashill has been pairing Seider with newly acquired Nick Leddy these first few days of training camp, and the duo could stay until the start of the season. The Wings are doing everything they can to make Seider as comfortable as possible.
"Moritz will get every opportunity in the preseason," general manager Steve Yzerman said in his pre-training camp news conference. "We'll play him a lot in the preseason to get him as comfortable as he can be to potentially start the regular season."
Seider spent two weeks before camp with Dylan Larkin, attending several football games and enjoying the Detroit area.
"Just tried to have a good time and the weather was great, so we enjoyed it a lot," Seider said.
Larkin talked about the maturity and poise Seider has on and off the ice. The veteran sees unique talent in the young 6-foot-5 defenseman.
"He's a special player," Larkin said. "You see with him, Lucas Raymond as well. They're smart players, they're smart guys. They work extremely hard. You see those high-end skill guys, they play pro, they understand the game, so watching them skate with NHL players, they seem to fit right in and it's great to see."
Forward Michael Rasmussen played with Seider in Grand Rapids two seasons ago. He has seen Seider progress.
"It just seems like he's gotten better every time he's got on the ice," Rasmussen said. "Obviously he had a good year overseas and he's just improved a lot over the summer."
Seider won the best defenseman award in the Swedish league last winter. That boosted his confidence.
"It helped me a lot, matured my game and handling my game in all situations a little better," Seider said. "I grew as a person and a hockey player, hopefully, and definitely it was the right decision to stay in Europe one more year."
Blashill is excited about the potential Seider exhibits, but like Yzerman, is quick to temper the sky-high projections.
"For a kid his age, he's as prepared as anybody could be," Blashill said. "He's excelled at each level, really, which is critical, so I don't know if I'm going to put an expectation on him.
"He'll get an opportunity to play and play big minutes if he earns it. If earns more, he'll get more. If he doesn't earn more, he won't get more."
Blashill doesn't see many holes in Seider's game.
"He's big, he's smart, he's got confidence, some toughness to him," Blashill said. "He can play in a lot of situations. So he's got the opportunity to be a really good player. We're going to give him the opportunity to do that and then he can grab it by the horns."
Seider credits Niklas Kronwall, a former Red Wing star who is is working with the defensemen during training camp, for aiding his development. Based in Sweden, Kronwall spent considerable time with Seider last season.
"We saw each other a bunch of times and we had some real good meetings throughout the year," Seider said. "It's cool having him here these days, too. He's a great person to work with and been known for his great personality and hard work on and off the ice."
Coaches and players have raved about the work Seider has put in to make himself NHL-ready. But the Wings are quick to slightly temper expectations. Seider is sure to be tested.
"There isn't an Auston Matthews or Patrick Kane in the Swedish Hockey League, that's just the reality of it," Blashill said. "He'll have to learn on the fly a little bit and make adjustments as needed against that high level of player. Can he do that? He has at every level and we'll let him prove it."