DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today released their 2018 NHL Prospect Tournament roster, a team consisting of 26 recent draft picks, free agent signees and tryouts who will battle against seven other NHL prospect teams for the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup from Friday, Sept. 7 to Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich.
Among the highlights on Detroit's roster are the team's four most recent first-round picks in right wing Filip Zadina (sixth overall, 2018), center Joe Veleno (30th overall, 2018), center Michael Rasmussen (ninth overall, 2017) and defenseman Dennis Cholowski (20th overall, 2016). In 2017-18, Zadina led all QMJHL rookies with 82 points (44-38-82) in 57 games with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and also scored seven goals in seven games for the Czech Republic at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y. Veleno, selected by Detroit with a pick acquired from Vegas for Tomas Tatar on Feb. 26, also spent last season in the QMJHL, split between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Drummondville Voltigeurs. After starting the season with 31 points (6-25-31) in 31 games as captain of the Sea Dogs, Veleno racked up 48 points (16-32-48) in 33 games with the Voltigeurs to finish 10th in the league in scoring.
Rasmussen and Cholowski are each returning to the tournament after debuting in 2017 prior to spending the 2017-18 campaign in the Western Hockey League. Rasmussen produced 59 points (31-28-59) with the Tri-City Americans in an injury-shortened 47-game regular season before amassing 33 points (16-17-33) in 14 postseason games to lead Tri-City to an appearance in the WHL's Conference Finals after back-to-back upsets in the first two rounds. Cholowski ranked among the league's highest-scoring defensemen, combining for 66 points (14-52-66) between the Prince George Cougars and Portland Winterhawks. After Portland was eliminated from the playoffs, Cholowski made his professional postseason debut with the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins.
This season's roster includes two players who spent a majority of their first North American professional seasons with the Griffins in center Axel Holmstrom and defenseman Vili Saarijarvi. Holmstrom picked up 26 points (7-19-26) in 66 games with the Griffins in 2017-18 following a decorated career in Sweden, where he was named the Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year in 2015. Saarijarvi notched six points (2-4-6) in 10 games for the ECHL's Toledo Walleye prior to earning a promotion to the AHL, where he contributed 11 assists in 42 games with Grand Rapids. Saarijarvi twice represented Finland at the IIHF World Junior Championship, combining for eight points (2-6-8) in 13 games over two tournaments and winning a gold medal in 2016.
Four players selected by the Red Wings at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft are slated to participate, including Zadina and Veleno. Defenseman Jared McIsaac was a teammate of Zadina with the Mooseheads and was drafted by Detroit in the second round (36th overall). McIsaac has recorded 79 points (13-66-79) in 124 QMJHL games over the last two seasons and won a gold medal with Canada at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He is one of three Red Wings currently competing for Canada, along with Rasmussen and Veleno, at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Kamloops, B.C. Fellow 2018 draftee and defenseman Alec Regula (third round, 67th overall) is one of two Detroit prospects in the United States' camp, along with goaltender Keith Petruzzelli. Regula contributed 25 points (7-18-25) in 67 games with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights in 2017-18.
Other roster highlights include right wing Givani Smith, a second-round pick (46th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft who capped off his major junior career by racking up 18 points (11-7-18) in 18 playoff games for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers to place second on the team in goals during the postseason; center Christoffer Ehn, a former fourth-round pick (106th overall) in 2014 who is slated to move to North America after playing 147 games over the last five seasons in the top Swedish professional league with Frolunda, where he helped win a championship in 2017; and left wing David Pope, a fourth-round pick (109th overall) from the 2013 draft who signed with Detroit following a senior season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, in which he led the team with 41 points (20-21-41) in 35 games.
In goal, the Red Wings have two recent free-agent signees in Patrik Rybar and Kaden Fulcher. The 24-year-old Rybar was signed by Detroit in May after spending four seasons playing professionally in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and representing the Slovakian national team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, and 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark. Fulcher was signed by Detroit after attending development camp and the NHL Prospect Tournament on a tryout prior to the 2017-18 campaign and backstopped the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs to a championship, leading all league netminders in goals-against average (2.70) and save percentage (0.905) during the postseason.
Twenty-one players who skated for the Red Wings during the 2017-18 season participated in the tournament during its 19-year history, while 597 total players have played in the tournament and moved on to skate in at least one NHL game. Prospects from the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues will also be competing in this year's tournament.
Tickets are available for $10 per day and can be purchased at Centre Ice Arena or at www.centreice.org. Each ticket is good for all four games per day. Teams are divided into two divisions and will play each team within their division once during the round robin before a crossover on the final day of the tournament, with the first-place finishers in each division meeting for the championship on Tuesday, Sept. 11. For more information and a complete tournament schedule, visit www.centreice.org.
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