Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.
Leon Draisaitl is not the only bright light in German ice hockey. While Nico Sturm of the Colorado Avalanche plays for the Stanley Cup, Detroit's Moritz Seider has become the first German to become the NHL's top rookie.
Ice hockey players, even the sport's biggest stars, tend to display a self-deprecating sense of humor one doesn't see that often in the worlds of football, baseball or basketball.
The reaction of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider to winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League's (NHL) rookie of the year was no exception.
"My parents couldn't make it. They just got back from Croatia and they thought it was more important to go on vacation," said the 21-year-old, drawing a few laughs at Tuesday night's NHL Awards ceremony in Tampa, Florida.
On a night off for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they face Nico Sturm's Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals, Seider then dutifully went on to thank everyone who had helped him along the way to making it to the world's top hockey league.
But later, speaking to NHL.com, the German stressed that despite scoring 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) he still sees a long way to go not just for him but also the Detroit Red Wings, for whom his performance was a bright spot in a dismal season that again saw the 2008 Stanley Cup champions miss the playoffs entirely.
"I'm just getting started. I'm looking forward to moving forward and not just for me, but for the entire Red Wings organization," he said. "We have a great future ahead of us and I'm excited about that."
Listed at 6'4" and 197 pounds (193 centimeters, 89 kilograms), Seider is already a good size for a defenseman but, given his youth, he is bound to fill out even more over the next few seasons — and in his rookie campaign he already demonstrated the capability to physically dominate opposing forwards.
His qualities weren't lost on German national team coach Toni Söderholm, who relied on Seider extensively at last month's World Championship, when Germany went undefeated in the group stage for the first time in their history.
"He showed a remarkable presence in his first year [in the NHL] and played strong all year. I am of course very happy for Moritz, he has made the whole of hockey in Germany proud," said the coach, who also prophesized that, barring injury, Seider can only get better.
"Moritz has shown tremendous development again this year. He is very ambitious as a person; he works very hard for what he wants to achieve and stays focused."
Despite his youth, though, Seider is not exactly an overnight sensation. His success in his first NHL season is the product of a methodical progression.
Like German superstar Leon Draisaitl, who won the Hart Trophy as the league's best player in 2020, Seider is a product of the Mannheim Eagles' development program, where he spent a season in Germany's topflight before the Detroit Red Wings made him the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft.
Also, like Draisaitl, Seider failed to stick with the big club in his first season abroad — being sent down to the Red Wings' farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.
Seider looked destined to spend his second season in North America there as well but, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting the AHL's 2020-21 season in doubt, the German defenseman signed on with Rogle BK in Sweden. It was there that Seider really started to turn heads, helping the club to the playoff finals for the first time in their history — and topping things off by being named the Swedish topflight (SHL)'s top defenseman.
From there, the NHL seemed to be the logical next step — a step he duly took in his stride. And while he admits feeling a certain pride at becoming the first German to be named the NHL's top rookie, he won't simply be basking in that glory back home over the summer.
"Now I'm going to be training hard in Mannheim again," he said.
Edited by: Matt Ford.