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Prospect Spotlight: Donovan Sebrango makes strides in Grand Rapids

19-year-old defenseman becomes first Red Wings signee from 2020 draft class

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings /

DETROIT -- On October 7, 2020, the Detroit Red Wings selected 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman Donovan Sebrango with the 63rd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

And although Sebrango was the fifth player the Red Wings chose in October's draft, he was the first prospect from the most recent draft class to be signed by Detroit when he agreed to a three-year, entry-level deal on March 14.

The former Ontario Hockey League blueliner ranked second among Kitchener Rangers defensemen last season with 30 points on six goals and 24 assists in 56 games.

Video: Detroit Red Wings | Donovan Sebrango | 2020 NHL Draft

With the OHL season on pause in January, Sebrango began the campaign on loan with HK Levice in Slovakia, posting one goal and two assists in five games.

The 19-year-old signed an amateur tryout contract with the Red Wings' AHL-affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins on January 20, and Sebrango made his AHL debut on February 11. The Griffins' coaches were immediately impressed with the teenager's composure in his first professional hockey experience.

"He was thrown into the fire a little bit, but he has done a really good job settling in and learning from his mistakes and being teachable and willing to learn," Griffins coach Ben Simon said in March. "He has been playing some decent minutes for us. He has come in and done a really good job.

"He is playing with confidence and has a great work ethic. He comes in every day and he wants to learn. He has a great attitude, and he has been a welcomed addition."

Tweet from @D_sebrango3: Extremely proud to sign my first NHL contract with @detroitredwings- A special thanks to my family and everyone who has helped me get to this point!! #lgrw

The fourth-youngest defenseman in the AHL has one assist in his first 18 games in Grand Rapids, but his coach said Sebrango has found ways to contribute outside the scoresheet and has provided a huge boost to the Griffins' lineup.

"He is a strong skater. He does a lot of little things that go unnoticed," Simon said. "I think his biggest attribute has been his compete level, and sometimes that is a skillset hard to develop in players. When you inherently have it, that bodes well for his future. He has done a really good job of putting in his time here and being open minded and continuing to learn on a daily basis."

Sebrango agreed with his coach about his skating ability complementing his grit, saying he views himself as a hockey hybrid who blends speed and physicality to produce a 200-foot game.

"I think I'm a bit of an old-school defenseman with a little bit of new school," Sebrango said on draft night. "I think I'm a pretty tough, gritty kind of guy. But I think I add offense, so I got a little bit of the old-age hockey in me and a kind of new-era offensive defenseman.

"My skating, I think that's what I've been most known for and that's definitely something I pride my game on. If you see clips of me, I think the skating is the one thing that really pops out."

The Ottawa native -- who's a descendant of a Cuban soccer player and a Canadian national soccer team manager -- said he's extremely excited to be a member of an Original Six franchise and can't wait to don the Winged Wheel when he gets his chance.

"It's a great honor, especially to go to such a great organization in Detroit," Sebrango said. "I can't even put it into words. It's a great feeling. To be drafted by them is such an honor. I just hope one day I can make them proud and be on the team eventually."

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