VANCOUVER -- Moritz Seider was as surprised as anyone when the Detroit Red Wings made him the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday.
"I would say somewhere between 15 and 20," the German-born defenseman said when asked where he expected to go in the draft. "It's insane. I can't explain it."
Seider's expression when his name was called was one of the memorable moments of the first round. He was sixth on NHL Central Scouting's final International skaters list and the second defenseman selected behind Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants (Western Hockey League), who went No. 4 to the Colorado Avalanche.
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"The rankings, I wasn't that high in any of them," said Seider, who played for Manheim (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) this season. "I'm just excited and it's an unreal moment."
Seider was the second European-based player to be taken in the first round behind Kappo Kakko, the Finnish right wing who went No. 2 to the New York Rangers. He wasn't as high on some lists, but the Red Wings thought differently.
"We think he has excellent hockey sense, obviously a big kid, 6-foot-3, real good skater," said Steve Yzerman, who replaced Ken Holland as Detroit's general manager on April 19.
Yzerman said the Red Wings tried to trade down in the draft, confident they could get the player they wanted later. But he could not find a willing partner.
"He looks like a guy who can be a top-four [defenseman] and help you win hockey games," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Does he become a top-pair D? We'll see. That all comes in time. To me, you need big, efficient smart defensemen and he's that."
Video: Red Wings draft D Moritz Seider No. 6
Blashill coached the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, where Seider played for Germany and scored two goals in five games. The tournament provided Blashill to watch Seider up close.
"What I liked is when he was under pressure he was able to make passes through people," Blashill said. "That is what the best defensemen do. They almost don't see the first forechecker; all they see is the options, and I thought he did a good job of that."
The Red Wings also liked that the 18-year-old played in the top professional league in Germany, where he faced older, more seasoned competition. He had six points (two goals, four assists) in 29 games for Manheim.
"I think it was the perfect opportunity for myself in getting better as a player, but also, I think it's very important to get better as a person," Seider said of his first season with Manheim. "Hanging around all these experienced guys, that was a huge step for myself as a person."
Video: Steve Yzerman on drafting Moritz Seider
The Red Wings passed on highly-rated forwards to select Seider, including Dylan Cozens of Lethbridge (Western Hockey League), who was No. 4 among North American skaters; Trevor Zegras of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (No. 6 North America), and Vasily Podkolzin of Neva St. Petersburg, (RUS-2), No. 2 on the International list. Each of those forwards was selected within the next four picks; Cozens went No. 7 to the Buffalo Sabres, Zegras to the Anaheim Ducks (No. 9) and Podkolzin to the Vancouver Canucks at No. 10.
Seider is the first defenseman taken in the first round by Detroit since Dennis Cholowski in 2016 (No. 20), but Yzerman said the selection was not about the Red Wings depth chart. It was about coveting a player they believe can make a difference.
"In our opinion, he was one of the top defensemen in the draft," Yzerman said.
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