Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Mid-day news from day four of the Red Wings’ prospect camp: (golf) ball hockey and sleeping machines

Don’t forget that the teams scrimmage today at 3 PM: Today marks the third day of “split sessions” at the Red Wings’ summer development camp, which means that the players have three more days in which they get to the rink a little before I do, around 7:45 AM, and leave a little for the day a little after I do, around 5:15 PM. In between, they’ve been subjected to an incredibly taxing day, even by the standards of young men who are in Traverse City very specifically for a “business vacation”:

One of “Team Lidstrom” or “Team Zetterberg” spends between 8:30 and 11:30 working out with Wings trainer Piet Van Zant, Griffins strength and conditioning coach Aaron Downey and the Wings’ trainers doing plyometric exercises, engaging in strenuous workouts designed to build core strength while teaching the “Red Wings way” of training and also taking part in dry-land training outdoors on the track behind Cherry Knoll Elementary School…

And the other team spends the morning working first with skill development coach Tomas Storm for half an hour (8:30-9 AM) then power skating coach Andy Weidenbach for half an hour (9-9:30 or 9:45), engaging in a very short Zamboni-induced break and then having their butts worked off by Griffins coach Curt Frsaer, assistant coach Jim Paek, Wings video coach Keith McKittrick and Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer (from 10-11:30), engaging in intense, up-tempo and detail-oriented drills which tend to balance end-to-end rushes, counterattack plays and the kind of mucking and grinding via “battle” drills that leave more than a few of the Wings’ older and better-conditioned members of the Grand Rapids Griffins (or at least Griffins-to-be) taking knees, skating bent over or leaning very heavily against the bench because the drills are exhausting.

The “teams” swap roles for the afternoon session, which takes place from 2:30 to 4:30 (the afternoon session tends to go a “little long”), and in between, after scarfing down trays and trays of pasta and salad from Centre Ice Arena’s catering department, they do something that only hockey players can imagine doing—they hop back on the bus and take a 15-minute ride to their hotel to engage in the traditional mid-day nap. The players might end up getting at most an hour’s worth of sleep during the 4-hour break given the commute, wake-up calls and trying to calm themselves down, but with few exceptions (Mitchell Callahan told me that he can’t nap, so he catches up on email instead), these players are as much sleeping machines as they are finely-tuned athletes, so they clunk out like I used to in Econ 101. FAST.

It’s a strange dynamic, and for the players, today marks both the halfway point of camp—four days down, four days to go after this afternoon’s scrimmage—and it marks the setting-in of a real frickin’ grind. I know I’m gonna be a little bleary-eyed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but by comparison, I have no idea how the players will manage to continue to deal with the physically and mentally punishing schedule until one more scrimmage wraps things up on Thursday (before they head back to Detroit for another round of fitness testing and exit interviews with the training staff, coaches and management). I saw more yawns than usual this morning and I think they’re going to do what yawns do—become contagious.

That’s not going to mesh well with the kind of attention to detail that Curt Fraser and Jim Paek demand, and it’s not going to mesh well with the fact that Storm and Weidenbach’s drills become more and more labyrinthine in days four, five and six of the split sessions, so perhaps recognizing the fact that these young men needed a change-up for the sake of generating excitement (Detroit doesn’t have the outdoor activities that Traverse City can offer by any stretch of the imagination, but the Wings’ traditional field trip to a Tigers game watched from Mike Ilitch’s suite tended to perk the players up, big time) and a change-up for the sake of holding the attention spans of 17-to-24-year-old athletes, good teachers did what good teachers should do.

The Wings’ staff chose to scrap Weidenbach’s session for a day and have the players work with Tomas Storm in a very, very different day after an abbreviated set of workouts, as the Red Wings’ Twitter account noted…

This morning’s off-ice skill development session has involved stick handling drills using golf balls on the arena concourse.

And in terms of the on-ice drills, the number of whistles to stop drills mid-stride to fix errors were matched with an equal number of, “Good job!” utterances, to the point that I believe I heard more “Good job’s!” from Fraser and Jim Paek today than I have over the first three days of camp combined.

The 8:30-11:30 slates are going to be today’s only training sessions, and this afternoon, at 3 PM, the Wings will hold a Team Zetterberg-versus-Team Lidstrom scrimmage.

In theory, the players have been told that they’ve done such a fantastic job of soaking up information and listening to their coaches that they’re being rewarded with a scrimmage, but as far as I can tell?

1. It’s built in to break up the monotony and grind of the eight-day camp;

2. Having a scrimmage before the last day of camp allows the coaches, trainers and Ken Holland and Jim Nill, who came up to town to watch the scrimmage, the opportunity to assess their prospects and try-outs in a more competitive setting.

It’s a “win-win” for both parties, but I don’t think that it’s just a “good job” cookie.

For reference purposes, here are the teams’ rosters…

Team Lidstrom:

Goal:

38 Thomas McCollum
66 Tyson Teichmann*

Defense:

2 Brendan Smith
32 Adam Almquist
64 Danny Dekeyser*
42 Max Nicastro
15 Richard Nedomlel
62 Ryan Sproul
3 Brad Walch*

Forwards:

47 Brent Raedeke
14 Gustav Nyquist
60 Trevor Parkes
70 Willie Coetzee
58 Landon Ferraro
58 Nick Oslund
68 Adam Estoclet*
24 Dean Chelios*
63 Julien Cayer
45 Casey Fraser*

Injured: Gleason Fournier

Team Zetterberg:

Goal:

34 Petr Mrazek
31 Evan Mosher*

Defense:

25 Brian Lashoff
54 Sebastien Piche
27 Travis Ehrhardt
56 Bryan Rufenach
61 Xavier Ouellet
75 Artem Sergeev*
77 Jake Chelios*

Forwards:

28 Tomas Jurco
53 Louis-Marc Aubry
65 Mitchell Callahan
71 Travis Novak*
50 Brooks Macek
74 Alan Quine
29 Marek Tvrdon
73 Phillipe Hudon
72 Zachery Franko*
49 Jesse Fraser*

Note: Players with an * next to their names are try-outs.

For the third day, “Lidstrom” and “Zetterberg” were separated into “red” and “white” teams, with an even mix of forwards and defensemen.

Team Lidstrom’s “red” and “white” squads break down as follows….

Lidstrom, White Team : Landon Ferraro, Max Nicastro, Nick Oslund, Willie Coetzee, Casey Fraser, Dean Chelios, Richard Nedomlel, Gustav Nyquist, Julien Cayer and Brad Walch, with Thomas McCollum as their goaltender;

Lidstrom, Red Team: Gustav Nyquist, Brent Raedeke, Danny Dekeyser, Ryan Sproul, Adam Almqvist, Brendan Smith, Trevor Parkes and Adam Estoclet

While Team Zetterberg’s “red” and “white” squads have the following make-ups:

Zetterberg, Red Team: Bryan Rufenach, Travis Ehrhardt, Brian Lashoff, Xavier Ouellet, Louis-Marc Aubry, Tomas Jurco, Zachary Franko, Phillipe Hudon, Marek Tvrdon and Petr Mrazek as their goaltender;

Zetterberg, White Team: Artem Sergeev, Jesse Fraser, Travis Novak, Brooks Macek, Mitchell Callahan, Nick Jensen, Alan Quine, Sebastien Piche, Jake Chelios and Adam Mosher as their goaltender.

And again, here’s the team’s press release regarding today’s scrimmage and the schedule for the remainder of the development camp:

RED WINGS PROSPECTS TO SCRIMMAGE IN TRAVERSE CITY

…  Team Lidstrom and Team Zetterberg Square Off on Sunday Afternoon at 3:00 p.m. …

Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings today announced that the itinerary for Day 4 (Sunday, July 10) of the team’s Development Camp in Traverse City, Mich. will now include a scrimmage pitting Team Lidstrom against Team Zetterberg. Sunday’s intrasquad battle featuring several veteran Red Wings prospects as well as recent draft picks and free agent camp invitees will begin at 3:00 p.m. at Centre Ice Arena. Fans wishing to attend the match are able to purchase tickets for $5 apiece at the rink’s main entrance. Tomorrow’s morning practices (8:30 – 11:30 a.m.) are also open to the public. The rosters for the two teams of Red Wings Development Camp attendees set to hit the ice on Sunday can be found below:

TEAM LIDSTROM

Goalies: Thomas McCollum, Tyson Teichmann

Defensemen: Brendan Smith, Adam Almqvist, Danny Dekeyser, Max Nicastro, Richard Nedomlel, Ryan Sproul, Brad Walch

Forwards: Brent Raedeke, Gustav Nyquist, Trevor Parkes, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Nick Oslund, Adam Estoclet, Dean Chelios, Julian Cayer, Casey Fraser

TEAM ZETTERBERG

Goalies: Petr Mrazek, Evan Mosher

Defensemen: Brian Lashoff, Sebastien Piche, Travis Ehrhardt, Nick Jensen, Brian Rufenbach, Xavier Ouellet, Artem Sergeev, Jake Chelios

Forwards: Tomas Jurco, Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Travis Novak, Brooks Macek, Alan Quine, Marek Tvrdon, Philippe Hudon, Zach Franko, Jesse Fraser

The Red Wings’ 2011 Prospect Development Camp will continue next week with on/off-ice sessions taking place in Traverse City Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (8:30 – 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.). This year’s camp wraps up on Thursday, July 14 with another intrasquad scrimmage as well as a skills competition (8:30 – 10:00 a.m.). More information on Traverse City ’s Centre Ice Arena can be obtained by visiting http://www.centreice.org

.

Shifting focus back to the morning’s activities, from a timeline perspective, from 8:30 to 10:30 AM, “Team Zetterberg” first spent forty minutes working out, and then spent the rest of the time on the upper-level concourse separating the two rinks, playing hockey wearing gloves, sticks and workout gear, sneakers included, with golf balls as Tomas Storm attempted to impart a little more stickhandling sense while giving the players an even more nontraditional-than-usual drill to sink their teeth into.

That brought the kinds of things you don’t usually hear when you’re sitting about ten feet from the wall separating rink from concourse—lots of golf balls hitting the walls as players lost control of them, and lots of laughing and giggling.

They were, however, also filmed for the entire time, and Jiri Fischer was already asking for a copy of the plyometrics and stickhandling drills that he could break down by early Monday morning, so while the tone was light, the work involved and critiques coming their way remain all about the business of self-improvement.

At the same time, “Team Lidstrom engaged in” drills completely dedicated to Fraser, Paek, McKittrick and Fischer introducing and reinforcing the systems of play that the Red Wings and Griffins play.

Both “Team Lidstrom” and “Team Zetterberg,” which took part in drills with the coaches from 10-11:30, engaged in a set of drills which, again, reinforce the concepts of puck possession, positioning via skating into “holes” and rotating and the kind of break-out and counterattack plays that the Wings utilize to get the puck out their own end and into the opposing team’s end in a hurry.

Without going overboard in my descriptions of the drills, the majority of today’s activities involved rapid changes in possession and/or the direction of the puck.

First, goalies faced a 5-on-0 as players retrieved dump-ins from one end of the ice and charged up the other way, making four passes, ensuring that the puck went left d-to-lw-to-center-to-rw-back-to-right d (or vice versa) before the defenseman took a shot on the net.

Then, a forward and defenseman were lined up at each blueline, and one player passed the puck to the other, the second player passed the puck back to the first after said drill-starter skated up to the red line, and then the drill-starter hauled ass the other way, going in on the goaltender in a 1-on-0.

These drills occurred simultaneously on each side of the ice, and almost immediately, the passes didn’t go from forward to defender but instead from d-to-d along the blueline before firing a pass up ice for the forward who skated to the center ice red line, first along the side boards and then diagonally from his starting position to the center ice faceoff dot (that nearly resulted in a couple of collisions, prompting a “heads up!” from Fraser).

Then the defensemen were clustered closer together, and the forward receiving a pass had to go between the defensemen starting drills going the other way to drive to the inside lane, then adding a diagonal instead of north-south pass to start the drill out, prompting the kind of neutral zone chaos and tentativeness which caused Fraser to say, ““You don’t know what you’re gonna do? Pass, don’t be scared to pass,” and when the forwards skated up to the red line instead of cheating toward the opposite blueline, Fraser insisted, “’We’re stretching, stretch! Always the same, stretch!” to encourage the now-legal two-line passes that allow players to gain territory and negate the other team’s ability to set up, stand back and trap away.

Afterwards, the team spent nearly an hour focusing on dump-ins, first having defensemen retrieve pucks and either go d-to-d or straight up to or diagonally to forwards who would roar the other way, then goalies fielding the dump-ins and sending passes to defensemen who were demanded to, “Wheel, get in the lane, D should be helping around the back, come out!”

Eventually the wingers, centers and defensemen were split into three groups, with the centers taking faceoffs at the center ice circle, defensemen working on either taking turnovers from down low or an easily-given-up puck from the side boards into a d-to-d pass which resulted in a shot with a player in front of the net, and the forward wingers learning how to tip shallow dump-outs backward to support wingers lurking near the blueline, who would then fire the puck at the net, or dekeing to steal the attempted dump-out at the blueline and then fire the puck toward a forward higher up the boards.

Jim Bedard made sure to occupy several forwards for short period of time, placing a stick horizontally about three feet in front of the crease and having the skater fire pucks at goalies who were recovering from the butterfly at both ends of Bedard’s stick, attempting to accentuate recovery and shorter-than-post-to-post sideways skitters from the goalies and encouraging forwards to take advantage of prone goalies by beating them to the far post or spinning around to change the angle of their shot and have their stick blade beat the goalie to the post before their bodies do.

Finally, dump-ins were retrieved from either the side boards or behind the net by a full five-man unit playing against two defensemen and then another full five-man unit, having the defensemen either go d-to-d or simply fire the puck up ice in outlet and again, emphasized stretch passes to offensive players either taking north-south or diagonal passes either along the side boards, up the middle or from the side boards to the middle (got it? I barely do) to drive to the net and actually encourage forwards to get in the proper position in the defensive zone (center high in the slot), neutral ice (where one forward wedges his way up the wing) and in the offensive zone (where forwards rotate in and out as necessary to ensure that someone’s battling along the boards, someone’s available down low and someone’s in the slot), all with Fraser emphasizing pace, pace, pace and more pace.

Everything happened fast, every battle was hard-fought (or at least most of them were) and goals were hard to come by.

This lather-rinse-repeat slate of drills occurred for both teams, but everything wrapped up by 11:30, so as I’m writing this, the players are at the hotel sleeping, waiting to take part in the “reward” that is an intra-squad scrimmage at 3 PM.

So what did I see in terms of player-by-player observations?

Well, as I’ve got a scrimmage to watch and am dead tired today, I’ll try to keep these things short so that it doesn’t take two hours to write ‘em:

Team Lidstrom:

Thomas McCollum, goaltender: McCollum was using a blacked-out stick today (a prototype? not the Reebok “AI 9” sticks the Reebok rep was showing the players) that was a bit shorter in terms of paddle length, and unlike Jimmy “My stick is too short” Howard, I think that McCollum will be better served by a slightly shorter stick. He looked very comfortable today, making the usual highlight reel glove saves and continuing to progress toward a more conservative and controlled game.

Tyson Teichmann, goaltender, try-out: What a difference new gear makes! Teichmann finally ditched season-old gear for a new pair of Brian’s Halak-style gloves and Vaughn Vision leg pads, and he played like he wasn’t afraid of getting any more stingers, and he also didn’t appear to be swimming in his gear as much. Teichmann has very good fundamentals but remains beatable in the corners and when he gets off his angle because he’s just so darn skinny, but new gear that fits better can make a world of difference, and now that he’s getting comfortable in his second skin, I can see why the Wings invited him to camp.

Brendan Smith, defense: Smith toned things down physically today, but he’s still elite in every skill set, especially his skating, and I like the fact that his passes and shots, which were once telegraphed like US-24 (Telegraph Road), neither tend to reveal themselves beforehand, nor is there much wind-up on his part. He just passes and shoots now, simpler and faster and smarter.

Adam Almquist, defense: Almquist can really impress when he releases a shot that’s far too wicked for someone who’s still five ten and maybe a hundred and sixty-five or a hundred and seventy pounds, his outlets can be seeing-eye passes and he skates real well, but he’s just still really physically immature, and that short stick still costs him in terms of having any sort of poke check or wingspan with which to ward off opposing players’ passes. He still gets turned around too easily, too.

Danny Dekeyser, defense, try-out: Becoming a favorite of mine. He’s just a stay-at-home guy but he’s got some flair for passing, he skates very well, especially laterally, his shot is good for a defensive defenseman and while he can be physical, his positioning is pretty darn good, too.

Max Nicastro, defense: Better today, much better. A little hard to notice because he blended in, but that’s good for Max. Big, mean hard shot, lovely vision, good skater, nice wingspan, subtly physical.

Ryan Sproul, defense: Had a bit of a down day but he remains the possessor of a Nicklas Lidstrom-long reach in terms of poke checking and sweep checking, he’s fast for his size, he’s strong for such a stringbean and even when his inconsistency rears its ugly head, he’s not a liability.

Brad Walch, defense, try-out: Very hard to get a handle on. Sometimes he looks a little bit like Sebastien Piche used to, when he was going to be the next Brett Lebda coming out of Grand Rapids (Lebda the good), and sometimes his high wind-up for his shot and his strength don’t do enough to differentiate him from the rest of the pack.

Brent Raedeke, forward: Raedeke’s got better hands than anyone will give him credit for, and his speed is subtly fast. He’s still the grinder’s grinder, but he can do more when asked or when setting up a teammate requires flashing some flair for playmaking or going to the front of the net.

Gustav Nyquist, forward: Up and down. He’s still got a ways to go in terms of physical strength and a ways to go in terms of consistency. He wasn’t smacking his stick on the ice demanding back-door passes, and for someone who’s been described as anything but a fantastic skater, I think he’s speedy and sometimes seems to float on his skates. His playmaking skills are a little underrated, too, and he is very, very happy to engage in counterattack and cycling drills along the boards.

Trevor Parkes, forward: He is the definition of North-South. He remains an enthusiastic and hard-working forward whose shooting and passing make you think he can be more than a power grinder.

Willie Coetzee, forward: I mean it, elite hands, elite stickhandling, elite shot, elite passing, good skating, great vision, can’t get ‘em going at the same time on a consistent basis. Dazzles then disappears.

Landon Ferraro, forward: Good today, worked hard on faceoffs, fast, great playmaker, smart smart smart, and again, now that he’s not going back to junior hockey, it’s as if the weight of the world’s been lifted from his shoulders.

Nick Oslund, forward, rights expire in August: Sometimes he’s a gigantic power grinder. Sometimes he vanishes. He wasn’t visible today.

Adam Estoclet, forward, try-out: Again, like Coetzee, elite hands, elite hands, and more elite hands, and he’s fast enough to make things happen. Is there more there? I don’t know.

Dean Chelios, forward, try-out: Had a bit of down day. Speedy, sneaky, deke-and-dangle-worthy, needs to mature physically and mentally.

Julien Cayer, forward: Again, with a year of college eligibility left, the Clarkson forward is slowly but surely starting to put the size, skill, strength and speed together as I’d hoped Oslund would a year ago. Fashioning a toolbox for his tools.

Casey Fraser, forward, try-out: Just having fun and working hard out there. His enthusiasm is infectious and he and his brother are at their best when they keep up, which is most of the time.


Team Zetterberg:

Petr Mrazek, goaltender: Petr does the strangest thing I’ve seen this side of Curtis Joseph when stickhandling—he turns his glove over so that his t-trap is pointing UP and his cuff is pointing DOWN when he shoots. In plain English, this would be the equivalent to holding the one’s top hand on the stick naturally and twisting one’s lower hand so its fingers were perpendicular to and facing your top hand. It works!

Otherwise he’s still very very solid technically, it’s hard to beat him to the post when you think it’s not covered, and his blocker hand is better, but it’s still lazy at times. Not invincible. He’s continuing to improve overall, however, and it’s nice to watch a young goalie play so calm, composed and conservative in the net. He doesn’t waste movement anymore and ALL he was was overcompensation last year.

Evan Mosher, goaltender, try-out: Trying to figure him out still. Classic Quebec Butterfly. High glove. Has holes, can be beat if turned around. Is he more than a cookie cutter goalie?

Brian Lashoff, defense: Still solid like granite, very quietly has a nice set of passing, shooting and playmaking skills, could still use another half step in his skating but remains incredibly mobile for a 6’3,” 215-lb 20-year-old.

Sebastien Piche, defense: He was cranking his stick back to over shoulder level when taking snap shots and he was hot-dogging it a bit at times and he can’t afford to do that kind of stuff. He’s gotta be like a the front of a mullet on the ice and the back of a mullet off it, and right now his mullet wig isn’t set straight.

Travis Ehrhardt, defense: Still a big frickin’ side of beef. Simple stay-at-home defenseman, does nothing wrong, skates well for an almost over-muscular man, can keep up with the Wings’ and Griffins’ style of play.

Nick Jensen, defense: A little less evident today but really elite playmaking skills in a player that’s still growing into his body and learning how to take less time to make decisions. He’s got a ways to go but he’s a sophomore with room to grow.

Bryan Rufenach, defense, rights expire in August: Still frustrating as hell to watch because his potential does not match his on-ice performance. He’s more solid in terms of his consistency and he’s doing a good job of showing the Wings that he’s now physically and mentally mature, but I don’t know if being solid is enough to stand out and earn a contract.

Xavier Ouellet, defense: He’s still very young and somewhat immature physically, but my goodness, can his hands keep up with the Wings’ style of play. Gorgeous shot, pass, heads-up playmaking, good skater, just young and a bit weak and needing to soak up what he’s learning here like a sponge.

Artem Sergeev, defense: I forgot to mention that he says his agent got him a $1,000 pair of MLX skates and that he uses a Torspo stick. Otherwise, he remains an enigmatic Russian who shows flashes of ridiculous potential and classically “Russian” slickness and sometimes disappears.

Jake Chelios, defense, try-out: Smoother and more composed than his brother, but still growing into his body and still learning that if you’re a really good college hockey player, that means you’re a step slow at the AHL level. The fact that Jake and Dean can’t take part in the prospect tournament in the fall hurts them very significantly because they would benefit so much from a more NHL-style level of competition on a nightly basis that it’s silly.

Tomas Jurco, forward: Again, sometimes he’s Jurco the Magician and sometimes he’s Jurco the Classic Slovak Power Forward in the Making and sometimes he’s Jurco the 18-year-old kid who’s big but not strong at all and still gobsmacked about being a Red Wing for all of two weeks. Enormous potential, great work ethic, and we have to wait a while, which isn’t something fans want to hear sometimes. Give him three to five years, folks, because he’ll need him, and I believe he will be worth the wait and then some.

Louis-Marc Aubry, forward: A little more gangly than great today, he’s still gaining a comfort zone regarding his gigantic 6’6” frame, and sometimes he’s inconsistent in terms of his finishing ability, but he works so very, very hard, he’s so very, very studious, he’s big, getting stronger, great skater for a giant, great wingspan, nice passing skills, good shot, sneakily smart in terms of setting up his teammates and he’s a very conscientious defensive player.

Mitchell Callahan, forward: Mitchell’s had two “down days” by his standards but he might be getting consumed a bit by the grind. He works as hard as Aubry does, he’s showing pro poise in terms of knowing where to be, how little time he has to pass and shoot and make plays, he’s fast, loves to go to the net and will be unleashed like an 800-pound gorilla of physical nastiness and gap-tooth-grinning when he’s knocked on his keester and pops back up because he takes hits and just smiles, takes numbers and goes to the net even harder the next time around.

Travis Novak, forward, try-out: Needs that extra year in college to get back to himself. Skinny skinny skinny, fast fast fast, great hands, inconsistent.

Brooks Macek, forward: Inconsistency struck today and the fast but undersized playmaking center became the fast but undersized invisible center.

Alan Quine, forward: He still needs to work on core strength but he spent a good amount of time winning faceoffs when he was paired against the gigantic Aubry as well as Macek, again, he’s faster with the puck on his stick than he is with the puck not on his stick, and he’s a hard-working kid with great hands, good defensive awareness and room to grow. Good kid, too.

Marek Tvrdon, forward: Desperately needs a full season of Major Junior Hockey and needs to take an English class to get comfortable in his own skin again. As I said yesterday, he shows flashes of the Slovak Power Forward Factory-Making Machine, but mostly he looks kinda uncomfortable as he does his best to find his stride again. Tremendous potential if he can put back together the things he lost and make up for lost time over the next two seasons with the Vancouver Giants. For now, he’s here, learning and healthy again and that’s what matters. You could say the same for Novak.

Phillipe Hudon, forward: Again, not as strong as his fantastically muscled physique would indicate, very inconsistent, but his shot is superb, he skates hard and well and he loves to go to the front of the net and compete.

Zachery Franko, try-out: Better hands than Macek, better skating than Novak, and today he was hard to find on the ice.

Jesse Fraser: Like his brother, a tremendously hard-working player who’s small and not particularly strong, but he works his butt off and he’s very genuinely happy to be there and blend in.


Multimedia:

Phillipe Hudon was very nice and spoke at length about his experiences, mostly without prompting. Very charismatic, composed, nice guy:


Download file

I know exactly as much about Evan Mosher after interviewing him as I did before I interviewed him. That’s not his fault but it’s not a good thing.


Download file

Bryan Rufenach’s doing his best on and off the ice…


Download file

And you can file Xavier Ouellet in the, “Holy Crap, I’m a Red Wing!” category:


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Again, the last thing I saw before I left the locker room to write this was a Reebok stick called the “Ai 9.” Pavel Datsyuk apparently tried it out at the end of the year….

Also Via the Red Wings’ new YouTube channel, here’s a “getting to know you” video featuring Thomas McCollum:

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Comments

Avatar

WOW! Thanks George for all the detailed info! This is a fun and very informative read smile

Posted by Meg on 07/10/11 at 02:49 PM ET

Avatar

1. George, this is great!
2. To quote you, “am dead tired today,...” George, I hope you’re taking the evening off as we suggested. Please.

Posted by Bugsy on 07/10/11 at 03:27 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’ll write a short scrimmage update and sleep after doing some grocery shopping (almost out of caffeine!). That’s the plan. Or sleep and write a short scrimmage update and then sleep some more.

On Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday we should know the Wings’ goaltending decision so this week is going to be an active one.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/10/11 at 03:34 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

he’s fast, loves to go to the net and will be unleashed like an 800-pound gorilla of physical nastiness and gap-tooth-grinning when he’s knocked on his keester and pops back up because he takes hits and just smiles, takes numbers and goes to the net even harder the next time around.

“Dirty Harry” Callahan!

Posted by w2j2 on 07/10/11 at 04:08 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Thanks, George.  Excellent collection of observations and analyses.

I can’t wait to see Rufenach and Lashoff with the big club someday.  After Smith and Kindl, those two guys seem to have the most potential.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 07/10/11 at 05:38 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Gigantic and raw like steak that’s been on the grill for thirty seconds.

Or as some call it, “Done.” (Not me, I’m not one of those ‘everything must be raw’ folks though I do enjoy a good ceviche, and willl have my steak blue-rare if I know the name of the cow it came from, but I’m more a Chicago-style medium-rare man myself), but I digress.  I like what you’ve said about Dirty Harry, George—the kinda guy whom, after being hit, gets up again with a bigger smile on his face and gets the number of the truck so it can be pulled over later, but…

...I said it before, I’ll say it again.  You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty here. Gicher groshries, then disconnect every damn trace of t’internet and go watch the sun set over the lake, because we both come from southeastern Michigan and wo se both know how rare that sight is.

Then sleep for eight hours.  We’ll still be here in the morning, brother.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 07/10/11 at 06:24 PM ET

BrendonR's avatar

This year and last year have to be the most vivid accounts of a team’s prospect camp around…by a long shot!  Awesome work as always, George, and I’ll echo the comments that a rest is certainly well-deserved.

On the content front, I have to say my favourite parts are your own editorial notes.  Specifically, it would be interesting to get a sense of where you see some of these guys fitting into the organization.  It’s obviously a huge crapshoot when it comes to prospects, but I’m guessing with all of the play you’ve been soaking in you’ve at least got your own sense as to who may be destined for the big club one day, and those that likely won’t be (top guys like Smith and perhaps Nyquist aside, naturally).

The one thing I’d really love to get a sense of is who is the real deal, and who is a great prospect but may not ultimately cut it in the Big Red Machine.  I imagine out of this whole group we might see 4 or 5 make it to be real players if the organization is lucky.

Thanks again George!

Posted by BrendonR on 07/10/11 at 06:39 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.