Advertisement

How AHL playoff performances from top prospects impact Detroit Red Wings in 2024-25

Several top Detroit Red Wings prospects gave encouraging performances in the AHL playoffs, injecting hope for their future in the NHL.

But that time is over now, after the Grand Rapids Griffins bowed out with a 2-0 Game 5 loss at the Milwaukee Admirals, ending the nine-game run with a 5-4 record.

The loss didn't overshadow what a stellar performance the Griffins got from Sebastian Cossa, who made a personal playoff-high 34 saves. Allowing just two goals, on the road, in an elimination playoff game, rates very well and further reinforces he is headed in the right direction — that direction being the NHL and a job with the Wings.

Cossa wasn't the only prospect who stood out as the Griffins played two playoff series.

Goalie Sebastian Cossa stops the puck during the Detroit Red Wings development camp with draft picks and free agent invitees at the practice rink at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
Goalie Sebastian Cossa stops the puck during the Detroit Red Wings development camp with draft picks and free agent invitees at the practice rink at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.

Jonatan Berggren, the No. 33 pick in 2018, led the Griffins in playoff scoring with five goals and 10 points. No longer waiver-exempt, the skilled scorer will be on next season's Wings roster, and his performance in the playoffs should help him convince Wings coach Derek Lalonde to put him in the lineup.

More: What Lucas Raymond's play at World Championship says about future with Red Wings

Three of Berggren's points — two goals and an assist — came in Game 4, when the Griffins faced elimination. The goal he set up was scored by Marco Kasper, who finished fourth in scoring on the team with seven points. Kasper, the No. 8 overall pick in 2022, had a goal and two assists in the opening game of the Milwaukee series, on the road. The skilled 20-year-old center needs to improve his consistency, but that's common in young players.

Marco Kasper celebrates a goal in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on May 15, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Marco Kasper celebrates a goal in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on May 15, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Just ahead of Kasper on the roster in scoring, Carter Mazur had eight points (three goals, five assists). The 22-year-old, a third-round pick in 2021 (No. 70 overall) just finished his first full season in the AHL. With a good summer adding muscle to his 6 foot, 172-pound frame, the winger should be fun to watch battle for a job in Detroit this fall.

Wings management even got a bit of a look at Nate Danielson, the No. 9 overall pick from 2023, who jumped to the AHL in mid-May from the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks (with whom he had 67 points in 54 games) and made it into two games.

But back to Cossa: This was an especially important season for the goalie, after he struggled in 2022-23 in his first pro season. That season, he lasted only three games (5.57 goals-against average, .783 save percentage) with the Griffins, spending most of the season with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL, where he finished with a 2.56 GAA and .913 save percentage in 46 games. He looked shaky in camp last fall, but recovered and went on to take the starting job in GR, where the 21-year-old posted a 2.41 GAA and .913 save percentage in 40 games.

In the playoffs, he finished with a 2.72 GAA and .900 save percentage. That's a good performance from the guy the Wings have expected to be their goalie of the future since moving up to draft him at No. 15 overall in 2021. Speaking in April, general manager Steve Yzerman sounded like Cossa is earmarked for more time in the minors, but his performance this spring is an encouraging sign the Wings may be able to pencil him in for duty in another year.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on X @helenestjames.

Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Helene's latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Red Wings' Sebastian Cossa stars in AHL playoffs. What does it mean?