Since the Detroit Red Wings signed forward Taro Hirose in 2018-19, he failed to break out this season, spending most of the season in minors.
The Detroit Red Wings signed former Michigan State University Spartans forward Taro Hirose during the 2018-19 season. He had a limited sample size in the games that he did play, but good things came of it. Hopes were high for the 2019-20 season, but things would not go as planned.
After his first chances with the Red Wings in 2018-19, Hirose showed signs being a capable middle of the pack, middle-six forward on this Red Wings roster. Hirose looked like he would be a capable puck-moving forward who read the play well and blossomed in his opportunities.
He played alongside forwards like Andreas Athanasiou and looked to gel well, but after a trade deadline deal that combination is no more. Hirose did well alongside Athanasiou since their speed fed off each other and it turned into a quick puck-moving line, something Hirose excels at.
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It seems like, if that is still the case, it is going to take some time to see it because, in 2019-20, he regressed and was sent down to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League (AHL). It was his first full season, so it is too early to close the door on him, but it was not ideal.
Personally, I expected Hirose to break onto the scene in the 2019-20 season, establishing himself as a Red Wings forward somewhere between the second and third lines, mostly on the third line.
In 2019-20, Hirose played 26 games for the Red Wings, where he posted only two assists with five goals for seven points. After his demotion to the Griffins, he would end up finishing with 35 games played where he had five goals and 22 assists for 27 total points on the season.
By the end of the season, Hirose seems to have figured some things out with the Griffins and started to show signs of being the puck moving forward that he was expected to be. It is only his first season, so there is no reason to give up on him just yet.
He may have regressed from what the hopes were coming into the season, but hopefully, spending the season in the minors gives him a chance to develop more and adjust. This Red Wings team is rough, the rebuild rages on, and this means Hirose will have more opportunities to prove himself.
The 2019-20 season is over, but there is no reason that Hirose cannot bounce back and join the Red Wings again in the 2020-21 season. It just sucks that Hirose was poised for a breakout season, but failed to truly breakout.
The Detroit Red Wings should not give up on Taro Hirose yet, at least one more season, and another chance in the NHL is warranted before the verdict is in on him.