TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – Find yourself someone who loves you as much as Red Wings fans in Traverse City love Moritz Seider. Detroit’s top pick in the 2019 draft, the big German defenseman has endeared himself to the locals at the annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament, where he has matched his great skating and skill with a physical edge that gets Wings fans roaring in the stands. And wouldn’t you know it, an early match against Original Six rival Chicago got the fire going in Seider.
“The first game he took a pretty good shot from Kirby Dach and we thought he responded well,” said Kris Draper, Detroit’s director of amateur scouting. “Everyone was wondering how that would go. He stayed on the bench, talked to the trainer and you could see a little fire there; he wanted to get back on the ice and that’s something you certainly love to see.”
Seider spent the rest of the game jawing and sparring with the Blackhawks lottery pick. Against Toronto, in a game that clinched Detroit’s berth in the championship game, Seider was very physical in the corners and was definitely playing with some snarl. Given how much else he can do out there, it was impressive to see that side of him.
Though Seider played against men back in Germany last season, getting him reps over in North America against a bunch of other hungry prospects is very important. There’s nowhere to hide on the smaller ice here and that makes for a faster, more aggressive game. Last year, fellow German national Dominik Bokk (who plays in Sweden) played for St. Louis in Traverse City, as the Blues wanted to open the eyes of their own first-rounder. For Seider, the on-ice adjustment has been easier than the off-ice component.
“It’s a culture shock,” he said. “Germany is a small country. But all in all, I really enjoy the States. The guys help me out a lot, picking me up for dinners and doing lots of things. I want to live here for a long term, so I’m settling down and really enjoying my time.”
Finding instant chemistry with his fellow Detroit prospects has translated to success at the rink, too.
“Everybody is hanging around with everybody,” Seider said. “We’re having a good time and you can see that on the ice. We’ve played solid.”
As the Traverse City tournament winds down, the next mission for Seider will be challenging for time at Detroit’s main camp. Seider spent the summer training with his German squad, Adler Mannheim, and he was very complimentary of the conditioning coaches over there, not to mention the organization itself. But he could stay in North America even if he doesn’t make the Red Wings, as he is eligible to play in the AHL with Grand Rapids. Because of his two-way game, he could help the Griffins right away, but the AHL would also be a good challenge because as Draper noted, Seider still needs to get stronger and can sometimes get in trouble defensively when going up against older players who can push back on his 6-foot-4, 207-pound frame. Of course, most of Draper’s thoughts on Seider are overwhelmingly positive.
“The one thing I’ve noticed is how hard he passes the puck,” Draper said. “For an 18-year-old kid, he snaps his passes. Our player development guys, Shawn Horcoff and Dan Cleary, that’s something they talk to the younger guys about; passing the puck harder. And Moritz gets it.”
Wherever Seider ends up this fall, he’s bound to make fans. And unless he becomes indispensable to the Red Wings, he’ll also get an incredible opportunity at the world juniors, where Germany is back in the top grouping after winning promotion from Division 1A last year (in large part to Seider’s efforts, unsurprisingly). In the meantime, the kid that most folks didn’t know anything about during the draft, is making his name known in Michigan. And while he may not know who he’ll be playing for yet, he knows nothing is given; it has to be earned.
“That’s what it’s all about, you have to wait until main camp is over,” Seider said. “Now it’s about working my ass off every single day, trying to be a better hockey player and making the team.”