Red Wings sign pair of free agent wingers out of NCAA

The Red Wings announced the signing of Taro Hirose (Michigan State) and Ryan Kuffner (Princeton) late Tuesday afternoon

The Red Wings made a pair of moves late Tuesday afternoon — both coming out of the NCAA. First, they signed Princeton standout Ryan Kuffner, then shortly announced the signing of Michigan State University’s Taro Hirose:

Ryan Kuffner
Princeton Univ.

The 22-year-old Ottawa native had a standout Junior season last year, notching nearly 30 goals. He followed that season up with another impressive senior season with the Tigers. The shifty, versatile winger achieved the milestone of becoming the university’s all-time scoring leader with 152 points (75 goals, 77 assists) in 132 games. I’ve seen him play maybe a handful of times — He played in the highly-competitive ECAC, where as a senior, he was top-five in the nation in goal-scoring. A guy like this strikes me as a third-line scoring winger in NHL with a ceiling of becoming a potential second-line player who can see time in all situations.

Taro Hirose
Michigan State Univ.

I first got to watch Hirose at the Great Lakes Invitational — it was clear that he was one of, if not, the best player on MSU’s roster. In his last season with the Spartans, he quickly became an offense catalyst. As a sophomore, he was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team. The smallish forward had a great junior outing with the Spartans, putting up 50 points in a strong Big Ten conference — a milestone that would make him the scoring leader in all of college hockey.

The new additions were featured by SB Nation College Hockey as two of the top NCAA free agents for 2019, here’s what they had to say:

Taro Hirose
Hirose has improved his shooting this year to become a bit more of a goal-scorer, but he’s definitely a pass-first playmaker that excels at setting up his teammates. His exceptional vision and hockey sense makes up for him being a smaller player, and his skating should be strong enough that he can handle any role at the NHL level.

Ryan Kuffner
He’s one of the most effective goal scorers in the NCAA, especially at even strength. His size and strength make him effective working along the walls or behind the net.

2019 Top NCAA NHL Free Agents

Shortly after the signings, Red Wings general manager leaked to media that the two wingers would stay with the Red Wings for the final stretch of the season:

It should be pointed out that the two will be unable to play until they get their visas switched from student to professional. Once that’s done, we may see them in action.