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Is Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider the NHL’s top rookie?

When Moritz Seider pronounces his first name, it has an exotic quality to it. He takes the “R” and brings the sound to the back of his throat, deemphasizing the sharpness of the letter that’s usually applied when non-German speakers attempt saying it.

For 20 years, he’s heard “Mor-EETZ.” To his constant bafflement, he’s also heard “MORT-eez.” So the Detroit Red Wings rookie opted for the path of least resistance.

He’s simply “Mo” to most people.

“Not a lot of people can say ‘Moritz.’ I’m just over with that,” the defenseman told ESPN last week. “So I go with Mo. And I like Mo, actually. It’s easy. It’s simple. You can yell it pretty loud too, which makes it easier for some guys on the ice.”

They’ve heard his name a lot in Detroit this season. It comes up in discussions about the Calder Trophy, as Seider, 20, is among the top candidates for NHL rookie of the year honors, a field that includes his teammate Lucas Raymond.

Mostly, they’ve heard his name during game action. No Red Wings skater plays as much as Seider has in 56 games, averaging 23:02 in ice time per game, a frequency that defies his first-year status. In fact, only one rookie defenseman in the past 10 years has played as much as Seider has this season: Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars in 2018-19 (23:07), and that’s just a five-second difference on average.

Did Seider expect to play this much in his first NHL season?

“Yeah, not really,” Seider said. “My expectation coming into this year was just getting a spot and playing on a night-to-night basis. Just playing a solid game and finding chemistry with all the ‘Ds’ that are on the team.”

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But his coach, Jeff Blashill, had a different expectation. He had seen Seider play in Germany, the AHL and in Sweden’s top league last season. He witnessed a player who could handle the ice time and play in every situation.

“The impact he had on those teams was tremendous. As we got into the year, we felt like he had a chance to be a real good player, real early on,”…

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