The sun was shining and so was Moritz as the Red Wings 21-year-old defenseman was named the 2021-22 Calder Trophy winner on Tuesday night. The big German was the first Red Wings player to win the Calder in 47 years and the first Red Wings skater to win it since Jim McFadden in 1947-48. It’s something that so many legends in the Winged Wheel failed to do, including Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, and Niklas Lidstrom, who all were runner-ups in their respective rookie seasons.
So if Seider is doing something that all of these legends failed to do, the question then becomes, how does he build on that? Having 50 points as a rookie defenseman while playing at an elite level is a very high bar to set. Building on that and growing will certainly not be easy, and it’s on more than just Mo to get the most out of his potential. It’s also on GM Steve Yzerman and whatever coaching staff he brings in.
The fact that Moritz Seider had such an incredible season despite being consistently dragged down by the player next to him on the blue line is a testament to just how good he is. Whether it was Danny DeKeyser, Nick Leddy, or Jordan Oesterle, he consistently didn’t have a man next to him that even resembles a top-pair NHL defenseman. That’s an issue that Steve Yzerman will have to fix. Or, he may have already fixed that.
Many have penciled in 2021 sixth-overall pick Simon Edvinsson to be Mo’s partner for the future. The 19-year-old Swedish d-man had a very promising season with Frölunda of the SHL, winning the league’s Young Player of the Year after averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game and putting up 19 points in 44 games. He already signed his three-year entry-level deal and has an excellent chance at making the Red Wings opening day roster. The question is, will he be ready for top-pair minutes immediately the way Mo was? Hard to say but that’s a tall order for such a young player.
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So, for 2022-23 at least, the Red Wings will need to look at who can join him. At this moment, the only left-handed defenseman under contract for next season is Oesterle who, as mentioned earlier, does not resemble a top-pair defenseman under any circumstances. Unfortunately, there aren’t many quality left-handed defensemen available in free agency as the top options are the likes of Olli Maatta, Nikita Zadorov, and Ben Chiarot. It’ll be a tough call for Steve Yzerman to decide what to do.
What Does Mo Need to Work On?
Look, we love Mo but we can acknowledge he’s not perfect…yet. There are some things he’ll need to work on his own as well as with the new coaching staff this offseason. The first of note is his shot. He scored just seven goals and spouted a 3.7% shooting percentage. Those are both numbers you’d like to see go up over the next couple of seasons. Mo doesn’t need to be a 20-goal scorer by any means, but 15 would be a very good, consistent number for him to hit, especially if he ends up becoming a 60-assist guy.
The other main thing Mo needs to work on which showed a bit near the end of the season is his manning up in front of the net, especially on the penalty kill. It obviously makes it much harder when your d-partners are traffic cones. However, there were certainly a few times he got caught puck-watching in front of the net and lost his man, especially near the end of the year. That’s something he can’t let happen. He’s an excellent one-on-one defenseman but defending in the zone is something he will need to improve on a bit and hopefully, whoever the coaching staff is will help him with it.
Mo Seider just had one of the best seasons by a rookie defenseman of the last 30 years. There’s no doubting that and his potential is there to be a hall of fame caliber, multi-time Norris-winning defenseman. It’s up to the Red Wings organization and Mo himself to make that potential into reality for the next 15 seasons, and that starts with an impressive follow-up in 2022-23. We can only hope there are plenty more sunny days ahead.