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Yzerman surprises many by taking big German defenseman in draft

Red Wings get Moritz Seider with the sixth overall pick

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

VANCOUVER -- The Detroit Red Wings made people sit up and take notice at the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

After the Colorado Avalanche took top-rated defenseman Bowen Byram with the No. 4 pick, most people believed the Wings would look to pick one of the many skilled forwards available.

Instead, general manager Steve Yzerman announced that the Wings were taking German defenseman Moritz Seider.

Seider was stunned when he heard his name so early in the draft.

Tweet from @NHLGIFs: Love the reaction, Moritz Seider! #NHLDraft

"I was shocked for sure. I didn't expect that at all," Seider said. "My whole body was shaking. I looked at my mom (Sabine) and she was so excited. It's been an unreal moment for me."

"We think he has excellent hockey sense," Yzerman said after the first round ended. "Obviously, he's a big kid, 6-foot-3, a real good skater. In our opinion, he was one of the top defensemen in the draft and we were picking 6 and 35, we had to make a decision; he wasn't going to be there at 35. We explored options to possibly trade back, we weren't able to do that. We're pretty excited to get him. I know our fans don't know much about him but I think when people come to development camp and see him move, Google him, watch him play a little bit, I think they'll be pleasantly surprised."

Seider, who met with all 31 teams at the combine in Buffalo, said the meeting with Detroit stood out to him.

"That was the longest meeting I had at the combine, about 40 minutes," Seider said. "It was the last meeting, so it kind of stuck in my memory for a long time. In the end, I think there was just a little percentage being drafted by Detroit, but I think in the end, it worked out pretty well."

Seider said that Yzerman "wanted to know every single thing about me."

Apparently, the Wings liked what they heard.

"He's very personable," Yzerman said. "If you get a chance … bright young man. I had a chance to spend some time with him. Very personable, very bright, a lot of energy, excellent athlete, so there's a lot of potential, both in his play and his athleticism, his size."

The Red Line Report had Seider ranked 17th in their final issue, calling him a "Two-way defender with outstanding size and mature beyond his years. Both at the senior and junior levels, plays a calm and collected game, glaring mistakes are as rare as snow in July. Simply does not make any bad decisions. Played huge minutes and nearly all of them as a take-charge-guy. Very good mobility and agility, can skate people out of danger areas. Excellent hockey sense, near perfect positional play and no panic at all.

"Won a DEL championship with Mannheim, then made Germany's senior men's World Championship team afterward. Not used in an offensive role in Mannheim, but showed both at the U-20 and the WC that he excels on the PP too -- distributes the puck well and his wrist shot is hard and accurate. Carries the puck out of his own end or makes great outlets. Only setbacks in a great year were two shoulder injuries, as well as getting driven into the boards at the WC."

Yzerman, who knows something about being a high draft pick, had a little advice for Seider on stage.

"He said just be calm and enjoy the moment because my hands were so shaky and I was so sweaty," Seider said with a laugh. "It's just a fun experience being here."

Although Germany is not known as a hockey hotbed, Seider said he got hooked on the sport at a very young age.

"When I was 5, we had the chance in kindergarten to jump on the ice once a week," Seider said. "After a couple of times, I got a paper in my stall from the hockey organization in Zell, my hometown. The next Monday, I went there. We skated around with all those pros. It was such a phenomenal feeling. It was a great atmosphere skating around with your idols I would say, your role models. That was the first touch and I fell in love with hockey."

Seider's parents were surprised with their son's love of hockey but ultimately threw their support behind him 100 percent.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Fam photo. #DRWDraft #LGRW

In order for Seider to play in Mannheim, his parents quit their jobs and moved with him so he could pursue his dream.

"Honestly, when you play in Germany, it's not that usual that you're drafted some day," Seider said. "It was just a major step going to Mannheim. Mannheim is one of the top organizations in Germany. That was the biggest step for myself at that moment. That was a huge commitment my parents made. I'm just happy to pay a little bit back now."

Seider said he was incredibly appreciative of the sacrifice his parents made for him.

"They are in a managing position of an old folks home, so they're taking care of old people," Seider said. "And I think we can we move anywhere in Germany and they will find a new job. But that's not normal, going for the safe jobs, safe money to the unknown and build up a new journey. I think in the end, it was the right decision. They made new friends. They have perfect jobs. We have a nice house there."

Seider has never been to Detroit but said he thinks he will fit in quite well.

"Mannheim and Detroit have a lot in common, I think," Seider said. "They're both worker cities, so I think going there is going to be easy. I'm really looking forward to being in Detroit."

With Adler Mannheim, Seider had two goals and four assists in 29 games, playing with and against men.

"I would say challenging every single day against pros," Seider said. "It was a huge step for me stepping into pro hockey, matching up with a lot of good guys in Germany. Just learn how to prepare yourselves for important games, especially playoff games, so I think that was a huge step for myself."

Seider also got to play for Team Germany in the recent IIHF World Championship, including a memorable exhibition game against Team USA.

"It was great to mesh with some of the best guys in the world and I think I did a pretty good job," Seider said. "There was the first exhibition game in Mannheim. I was a little bit nervous. Got toe dragged by (Patrick) Kane. At the moment, I realized, 'Okay, just play your game. Play simple hockey.' I finished pretty strong. It was a just a great feeling and even the world championship we had, it was great to be there."

While coaching Team USA, Wings coach Jeff Blashill got a good look at Seider.

"I watched him," Blashill said. "He was hurt by the time we played them. I was really impressed in the tournament. He's big, efficient, smart and he made plays under pressure. For me, that's what the best defensemen do. I believe in efficient defensemen. I think that's how you win. Certainly, you need some offensive guys to produce points, and that's something I wouldn't have saw there because as an 18-year-old playing in the men's (league), it's hard to be a guy who's going to produce a whole lot of offense from the blue line, but I thought he handled himself really well. Looks like a guy that can keep growing into his body as well, so happy with that."

The 6-foot-4, 198-pound defenseman already has size on his side but he understands he has things to improve to reach the NHL level.

"Probably acceleration is one of the key points. For this summer, getting quicker in the first few steps. Getting shots through. It's a little more difficult in North America because the blue line is way further than it is in Europe. That's going to be a big challenge."

Tweet from @NHL: Let the flow loose, Moritz Seider! 👏 #NHLDraft

Seider is a little different from some of the other young Wings defensemen like Filip Hronek, Dennis Cholowski and Oliwer Kaski in that he is not weighted so heavily toward the offensive side of the game.

"I saw him on the power play, mostly the U20 team on the power play. He knows what he's doing back there," Yzerman said. "I don't call him an offensive guy. I think he's a good, solid two-way guy. I think he can play the power play, he can walk the line and get his head up, get his shot through. I think he'll play with your top players and play against your top players because he can move the puck. He's not going to be Erik Karlsson weaving through traffic and all that but he can skate it, he can pass it. So I think he has some ability to play in offensive situations but I don't want to create this illusion that he's an offensive guy. I think he's going to be a player that can play in all situations."

Now that the first step is out of the way, Seider is looking forward to his first development camp in Detroit next week.

"I got my equipment here in Vancouver," he said. "Looking forward to being on the ice next week and challenging on the ice again. It's going to be a perfect opportunity, getting better in the offseason."

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