Yzerman Says Wings Didn't Reach For Seider: "We Had Him Right At Six On Our List"

"I don’t pay attention to the mock drafts at all. We can’t."

Jamie and Stoney
June 24, 2019 - 12:14 pm

Moritz Seider

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Moritz Seider was a consensus first-round pick entering the NHL Draft. But No. 6 overall? 

That came as a surprise, to Seider as much as anyone. His face when the Red Wings called his name Friday night said it all. 

Most projections had the 6'4 defenseman from Germany going somewhere in the middle of the first round. But Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings had him ranked higher, and they knew Seider would be off the board if they waited until their second pick. So in his first major decision as Detroit's general manager, Yzerman trusted his instincts. 

"I don’t pay attention to the mock drafts at all. We can’t. We have to do our jobs and hopefully do them well and kind of tune out the noise, so to speak," Yzerman told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. "But we had him right at six on our draft list. I wasn’t sure where he was going to go. I know there was a lot of interest in him from a lot of teams.

"I actually looked at the options of trading back and trying to get an extra pick and keeping my fingers crossed that he would be there, or we had a plan B in the event that he wasn’t. Trading back didn't prove to be an option, so we were comfortable selecting him at that spot. I know he was surprised. But we felt he was going to go if not to us, potentially Buffalo who was picking right after us, and by probably the 12th or 13th pick he would be gone."

Seider, 18, is a strong skater who's praised for his ability to make plays under pressure. His offensive upside isn't huge, but he's a smart passer who has the makings of a top-four defenseman in the NHL. As for whether he'll become a top-pair guy, time will tell. He likely won't play for the Red Wings until at least the 2020-21 season. 

"We’re going to take it a step at a time," Yzerman said. "He’s here for our development camp starting (Tuesday) and we’ll get through that and kind of make sure he’s set up for a good summer of training and skating, and then bring him back in for our rookie tournament and into the main camp and then we’ll really decide from there. We have good options. We have all of the options actually."

When next season begins, the Wings can choose to send Seider to the AHL; to the OHL where his rights are owned by the Owen Sound; or back to Mannheim, his club team in Germany. 

"Mannheim is certainly a good option. I was pretty impressed with the program they run over there," said Yzerman. "It’s a men’s league, it’s an NHL-type operation, fantastic arena. Really good program and a really good team, so we'll figure it out as we go along." 

Detroit made 11 picks in the draft, including four in the first two rounds. They wound up with a tidy group of five forwards, five defensemen and a goalie. Yzerman said he was looking for prospects who are hard to play against, emphasizing skating ability, hockey IQ and competitiveness. 

"I'm not trying to build the '86 Red Wings. The game isn’t about fighting and what not, but I want competitive players and guys that have good hockey sense," he said. "You need to be able to skate or project them to improve their skating enough to play in the NHL, and then if they can be big guys on top of that, even better. Those are really the characteristics. And then ultimately you want good kids. That’s a little bit difficult to project. You know them a little bit and you do your homework on them, but kids can go a lot of different directions from the age of 18 to 23, 24, 25." 

In an interesting twist, the Red Wings didn't draft a player from the Canadian Hockey League for the first time since its inception in 1975. Yzerman said this was merely circumstantial, though the former GM of Team Canada did call upon the country's main feeder program to raise its game. Of the first 15 picks this year, just three came from the CHL, an unusually low number. 

"You mentioned (Bowen) Byram and (Kirby) Dach, we had interest in drafting those guys but they were selected ahead of us. And then early in the second round we had some Canadian kids tucked right behind the Finnish defenseman (Antti Tuomisto). Ultimately I don’t pay attention to where they’re from," Yzerman said. "We’re going to go with the best prospect that we think fits that pick. As it turned out, it’s ironic they weren’t out of the Canadian Hockey League.

"But I would say this. All over the United States is producing a lot of good hockey players, the USHL is generating a lot of good hockey players, and as you see what Finland is doing and even Sweden at all levels, there’s players coming from different parts of the world. It’s time for Canadian hockey to step it up a little bit. We have to do a better job of producing players."

In addition to his attempts to trade back in the first round, Yzerman explored the idea of moving up. In the end, there wasn't much interest from the team's directly ahead of Detroit. 

"I did talk with LA and Colorado, but they were both pretty comfortable in what they were doing," said Yzerman. "They didn’t indicate a real desire. Unless things went unexpectedly, they had guys they were going to be comfortable using their pick with, so that didn’t really look like an option. I'm not even sure it would have got it done unless I made the price so irresistible for them, and that didn’t make sense for us, because, again, I was more than happy at six to pick Mortiz Seider. We were very comfortable with that.

"The urge to trade up wasn’t as great as it was to potentially move back a spot or two and get the same player, but I couldn’t do that."