The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/12/11 at 10:50 PM ET
You’ll have to thank Paul for posting the Red Wings’ prospect tournament schedule and roster as my ISP mysteriously decided to conk out for the entire day.
The roster lacks several AHL’ers who’ve played in too many pro games, are too old (it’s usually a combination of both) to participate (like Tomas Tatar, Thomas McCollum, Jordan Pearce, etc.) and/or are simply being held out of the tournament for the sake of younger players gaining experience, but the roster looks very solid and really highlights a core of players who are either eligible to turn pro or are ready to take bigger roles on the Grand Rapids Griffins’ roster.
The Wings also brought most of their try-outs from the summer development camp back, including players who are no longer the organization’s property in Nick Oslund and Bryan Rufenach, a trio of players who infamously were discovered to have been linked to Shop.nhl.com’s Wings jersey customizer by the Production Line in diminutive forwards Zachery Franko and Adam Estcolet as well as cookie-cutter Quebec Butterfly goalie Evan Mosher…
And I’m less than surprised that Artem Sergeev made a rather narrow cut in terms of try-outs as the Val-d’Or Foreurs defenseman is not only a very well-filled-out 6’1” and 205 pounds, but is also offered more than enough, “Wow, he’s skilled” moments at the summer development camp to merit another look-see. He’s very strong, very smooth, and when his comfort level is decent, as prototypical a highly-skilled Russian defenseman as Tomas Jurco is a product of the Slovak Power Forward Factory lurking somewhere in the woods outside Trencin (where Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and a few other Slovak superstars call home), so I can understand why the Wings brought him back.
As for the other three, I’ll let RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, via her Left Wing Lock blog, offer biographies (and as Lindenau notes, the fact that Sergeev is an Igor Larionov protege shows more in his level-headedness than it does in his $1,000 pair of MLX skates)...
Adam Estoclet – A 6-foot-2, 172 pound forward wrapped up his collegiate career earlier this Spring while attending Dartmouth College. The Orno, Minnesota native played seven games with Providence of the AHL after signing a amateur try-out contract.
Zach Franko- A 5-foot-11, 175 left wing who opted to play for Kelowna of the WHL after originally committing to Bemidji State University.Franko is an undersized offensive forward who notched 22 goals and 53 points as a WHL rookie.
Evan Mosher – A 6-foot, 186 pound goalie who has played the last three seasons for the PEI Rockets of the QMJHL. Mosher posted a respectable 2.79 goals against in 57 games this season marking his first sub .300 season to date.
Nick Oslund – A 6-foot-3, 210 pound forward who was originally selected by the Red Wings in 2006 has one more chance to impress the brass before becoming a UFA. Oslund is a raw package of size and skating ability but hasn’t developed the mean streak or scoring capability.
Bryan Rufenach - A 6-foot, 187 pound defenseman who plays an offensive game but is prone to defensive inconsistencies. Like Oslund, Rufenach has one last chance to impress in Traverse City.
I’m admittedly not sold on Mosher after only a week of watching him play the standard Giguere-Reimer-[Insert Goalie’s Name Here] Quebec Butterfly, but here’s hoping that he impresses the Wings this September.
As for Oslund and Rufenach, Lindenau has ‘em down pat—all tools and no toolbox, so the, “Can they bring their skills together before their eligibility runs out?” equation simply hasn’t run its course…
And while Estcolet is 22 and Franko’s 18, they’re very, very similar players, both slightly-built but fast as can be and slick in the playmaking department. Franko’s got time on his side as he’s younger and is just coming into his own, but Estcolet has a good attitude and understands that he’s undersized (both players do) and needs to add muscle in a hurry.
The Wings have also clearly chosen to allow Petr Mrazek to run with the goaltending reins, and as such, they’ve brought in a new third netminder:
Ramis Sadikov – A 6-foot-2, 230 pound goalie is a competitive netminder who uses a mix of styles. The Red Wings have had their eye on Sadikov since the 2010 NHL draft, but opted to select Petr Mrazek that year instead. Sadikov, who was rated 13th overall by the Central Scouting Bureau in 2010, ultimately went undrafted in both 2010 and 2011 but has since rebounded taking over the starter duties in Erie last season and finishing with a 2.88 goals against and a .912 save percentage.
The Production Line’s Michael Petrella offers more on Sadikov:
So who is this kid that will be joining 2010 Draft Pick Petr Mrazek and fellow tryout Evan Mosher in guarding the Wings net in Traverse City?
For starter’s, he’s huge. The OHL’s official site has him listed at 6’4″ — which would make him the third tallest Red Wing (behind Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Commodore) should he earn a contract. Not only that, he’s listed between 220 and 230 — which puts him in Commodore and Todd Bertuzzi territory.
He turned 21 in February of this past season — a season that saw his workload increase from 25 games played to 58. In both seasons with Erie, he’s led the netminders in games played.
In 2010-11, his stat line is fairly impressive. He went 36-17-2 on a rather average Otters team. His 36 wins were good enough for second in the OHL (one place above Mrazek). His .912 save percentage was enough to earn 4th place in the league (a category that Mrazek led) and a 2.88 goals against average placed him sixth (one slot below Mrazek). He led the league in minutes played, with 3,295.
Despite playing two years in North America — a caveat that can turn the Russian National Team off — he was a member of two World Junior development rosters, and eventually made Team Russia in 2010 (but he only played in one game). He was cut from the eventual Gold Medal-winning team in 2011.
Although he was eligible to be drafted in both 2010 and 2011, no NHL team has bitten. However, he was drafted in the 2009 CHL Import Draft — going 36th overall to Erie. He was also selected in the first round of the 2009 KHL Draft, and his rights are held by SKA St. Petersburg (he was taken three slots above our own Tomas Tatar).
Finally, we learn that homeboy’s not afraid to drop the mitts and throw hands, as you can see in this video (fast forward to 1:15 if you’re impatient):
In other words, he’s going to turn pro one way or another at 21, and the Wings are clearly worried about adding size both in terms of skaters (see: well, Louis-Marc Aubry and 80% of the players the Wings have drafted over the past two years) and in the crease. Tyson Teichmann looked pretty darn good at the summer development camp, but he was also skinny as a rail, and Mrazek isn’t overly big, but Thomas McCollum lives up to his “Bullwinkle” nickname at 6’2” and about 210 lbs, and Pearce is 6’3,” so if Sadikov proves himself, there’s another big, smart goalie.
Again, as I was unavailable today, I’ll let DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmusen raise an eyebrow on our collective behalf regarding the jersey numbers game:
Joakim Andersson is the only prospect returning to camp with a different number, switching from #62 to the #63 worn last year by tryout Antonin Honejsek. Ryan Sproul will take Andersson’s vacated #62.
Gustav Nyquist makes his first camp appearance in Derek Meech’s old #14 while Brian Rafalski’s #28 goes to Tomas Jurco.
Other 2011 draft picks claiming abandoned numbers are Marek Tverdon, who takes the #71 of 2010 try-out Brenden Kichton, and Xavier Ouellet, who gets try-out Marc Zanetti’s #61.
With Sergei Kolosov returning to Europe, try-out Evan Mosher gets his #68.
Try-outs Nick Oslund, Adam Estoclet and Brian Rufenach replace players who were in a similar position last year, as Oslund takes Darren Archibald’s #58, Estoclet takes Stephen Johnston’s #64, and Rufenach gets Alex Cord’s #56.
Six players make their first appearance at camp wearing a number that was un-used last season.
Brooks Macek will wear #50, Alan Quine will take #74, and Richard Nedomlel picks up #73.
A trio of try-outs rounds out the new numbers. Zach Franko will have #72, Artem Sergeev will take #75, and Ramis Sadikov will take #76.
The prospects usually tend to wear their numbers, at least with the big club, all year long (as I recall, per Fox Sports Detroit, Paul Boyer takes a trunk full of extra jerseys along with him on road trips, and the prospects’ jerseys are at the bottom of the pile), so you’ll just have to not be too surprised if you see Brian Lashoff wearing #25, Nyquiust wearing #14 or Smith wearing #2 when they’re called up (Jurco won’t be signed for another year or two)...
And I can at least tell you that, from speaking to Brian Lashoff, the Wings’ prospects will be on a mission to deliver their first tournament championship this time around.
In other prospect-related news, Team Sweden and Team Finland tangled at the combined World Junior Championship evaluation camp they’re conducting with the U.S. in Lake Placid, NY this week, and the Swedes beat Finland 8-4. Per USA Hockey’s website, Teemu Pulkkinen registered a goal and an assist for Finland, and Mattias Backman registered an assist for Sweden…
And I can’t disagree too bitterly with Pro Hockey Talk’s Matt Reitz’s assessment of the NHL-readiness of a prospect who’s not taking part in the tournament:
5. Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings (Slovakia)
The 19-year-old Slovakian would already be an NHL regular if it weren’t for the organization that has been developing him over the last few years. It’s hard to believe the talented left winger has already spent two seasons in the AHL with the Red Wings affiliate in Grand Rapids. Last year, he impressed management enough to for a 9-game call-up to fill-in while the Wings dealt with injury problems. The talented winger has put in a lot of work to become more responsible on the defensive side of the puck—it should pay off with a full season with the NHL club this season.
The Wings aren’t going to give Tatar a full-time spot with the team—Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton are no longer waiver-exempt, and while Tatar’s definitely proved that he can at least step in as a 13th forward at the NHL level, the more AHL development time he gets as first-line forward for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the better—but he’s gritty as hell, works his butt off and really does offer a sort of hybrid between what the Wings hoped Jiri Hudler could become and a Danny Cleary-like presence. I think that 20 goals and 40-50 points, all earned with lots of heart and a Babcockianly “greasy” amount of effort, are realistic expectations to place upon his shoulders.
Speaking of Babcock, ESPN’s latest NHL poll asks whether Babcock’s among the NHL coaches who will experience the most success this season…
Both Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien and the Score’s Scott Lewis confirm Kukla’s Korner’s Doug Miller’s news that Chris Chelios was among the three “legends” available for EA Sports’ NHL 11 users to employ…
I’m not going to comment about Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy’s suggestion that the fact that Nicklas Lidstrom’s not paid as much as the vast majority of his elite (and some not-so-elite) defensive peers is just nuts…
In the promotional department, the Red Wings’ “Operation Bobblehead” voting is continuing on Facebook, the Wings are now selling tickets to their Hockeyfest on September 10th, and I don’t know what to say about this...
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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.