The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/08/11 at 10:16 PM ET
Updated 2x at 9:32 PM: The second day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp concluded after a spirited workout by “Team Lidstrom,” which engaged in the same drills Team Zetterberg took part in this morning. Again, for reference purposes, here are the participants…
38 Thomas McCollum
66 Tyson Teichmann*
2 Brendan Smith
32 Adam Almquist
64 Danny Dekeyser*
42 Max Nicastro
15 Richard Nedomlel
62 Ryan Sproul
3 Brad Walch*
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
34 Petr Mrazek
31 Evan Mosher*
25 Brian Lashoff
54 Sebastien Piche
27 Travis Ehrhardt
56 Bryan Rufenach
61 Xavier Ouellet
75 Artem Sergeev*
77 Jake Chelios*
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.
And again, via the team’s Facebook page, both the morning and afternoon sessions are open to the public—and the rink’s been anywhere from a third to two-thirds full, which is pretty darn good given the short notice and the National Cherry Festival yielding few lodging options…
The Detroit Red Wings will hold their annual summer prospect development camp from July 7-14 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich. Fans wishing to attend the proceedings may attend the first day free of charge, with tickets for the remainder of camp available for $5 (per day) apiece at the rink only.
This year’s development camp will feature seven of Detroit’s nine selections from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, including highly-touted offensive dynamo Tomas Jurco (RW, Saint John, QMJHL) as well as his fellow second-round picks Xavier Ouellet (D, Montreal, QMJHL) and Ryan Sproul (D, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Previous camp attendees set to appear at this invaluable week-long training session include renowned prospects Brendan Smith (D, Grand Rapids, AHL) and Landon Ferraro (C, Everett, WHL).
Friday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 13
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 1)
Thursday, July 14
8:30 – 10:00 a.m., Scrimmage/Skills Competition
And before I continue, I must mention that I expect to see some of you tomorrow as RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau notes that fans have one more chance to snag tickets for two additional training camp dates at Centre Ice Arena this fall...
A final in person ticket sale for the 2011 Detroit Red Wings Training Camp will be held on July 9th from 10 am – 2 pm. Tickets will be available for the two newly added practice dates – September 21 and 22. All seats for the September 19th practice session are available, while September 17th and 18th are sold out.
A fax ticket sale will begin at noon on July 11, 2011. For complete details on this year’s came, please visit the LWL Training Camp page here.
So there are the fancy prefaces and here’s the bottom line: I’m writing this from my hotel’s lobby as, for some reason, the wireless internet conks out about 100 feet short of my room. The owners were supposed to return to said lobby about an hour ago to help remedy the situation—and as I’m staying here for another six days, this whole, “Having access to the internet” thing is important, especially given that we’re likely to find out whether Chris Osgood and Kris Draper will return for the 2011-2012 season sometime early next week—but it’s entirely possible that I might not have any interweb service for tonight, so…
I’m cutting my losses and hoping that some information is better than total silence on my part. I don’t know when the net will be fixed and if I wait to do what I usually do after the day is done—take a short nap and actually eat dinner—the lobby will be closed and I’ll be sitting with my legs crossed in the parking lot, or trying to file an entry from the front seat of my Pacifica. Better bleary-eyed than nothing, I suppose.
The names change but the drills are the same…sort of. The routine for the next six days was established this morning, and, like any good teaching staff, the coaches in question—skill development coach Tomas Storm, power skating coach Andy Weidenbach, goaltending coach Jim Bedard, Grand Rapids Griffins coach Curt Fraser, his assistant, Jim Paek, Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick and director of player development Jiri Fischer (not to mention Griffins strength and conditioning coach Aaron Downey)—tend to learn from their charges’ reactions to their lesson plans and adjust accordingly. Things are a little crisper, a little more businesslike and a little more brisk in the afternoon, thought that might have as much to do with less bleary eyes than anything else.
That being said, the routine is as follows:
1. First hour and fifteen minutes of session: After a brisk skate-and-stretch, defensemen and forwards first swap out between a) warming up the goalies and then helping goaltenders work on lateral movements, post-to-post coverage, recovery from butterflying and other fundamentals with Jim Bedard, b) working first with Tomas Storm, who encourages skill development via stickhandling drills that leave even the four and five-year veterans of this development camp shaking their heads, and c) then working with Andy Weidenbach, whose power skating drills can yield jaw-dropping results within a week for the first-timers and visible improvement in the strides of even the most seasoned campers.
2. Players then receive a 15-minute break as the Zamboni resurfaces the ice.
3. For forty-five minutes to an hour and ten minutes, depending on the discretion of coach Curt Fraser, the entire team takes part in drills designed to both reinforce fundamentally sound hockey, the kind of ebb and flow of breakouts, counterattack and puck possession hockey which the Wings play and, to put it bluntly, to kick the butts of the youngsters and remind the seasoned campers that the Red Wings play at only one level of pace—breakneck—and at only one level of execution, attention to detail and focus—a professional, intense and technically sound approach to hockey in which not one single pass, shot, attempt to skate back into the line after a drill is over or willingness to get the drill done properly is allowed to pass if it’s half-assed.
Fraser and Paek very liberally use their whistles and voices to stop drills to ensure that they are done as prescribed, and again, it’s not because the players are being called out to be embarrassed: instead, the entire focus of this camp is to develop strong work habits and improve in terms of on and off-ice skill development. So if it’s Brendan Smith that messes up or it’s Tomas Jurco who doesn’t quite understand, and they’re almost at the end of their portion of, let’s say a 3-on-2 which begins as a 2-on-1 going one way and then results in the “defenseman” joining two forwards to engage two new defenders, well…
It’s time to stop and, in the words of Mike Babcock, “Get it fixed.”
This is perhaps doubly remarkable when, considering the number of players who are involved, the management and coaching staff are attempting to achieve three more goals (bear with me here, this is a bit long-winded):
1. In the case of both returning prospects and players who are “turning pro,” like Landon Ferraro, Mitchell Callahan and Gustav Nyquist, the Grand Rapids Griffins-in-waiting are getting to know their new coaches, trainers, how they’re going to work out and what it means to play Red Wings hockey;
2. In the case of the new players, both as draft picks and try-outs, the team is teaching new recruits the “Red Wings way,” again, both on and off the ice;
3. And the players are engaging in a dress rehearsal for the prospect tournament, which Fraser and Paek coach, and training camp, where Mike Babcock and the Wings’ new assistant coaches won’t stop drill…Well, actually, they do it, too, but when you’re screwing up in front of Nicklas Lidstrom, the “pucker factor” is much higher.
We’ll ignore the fact that out of the nearly 40 prospects taking part, it’d be absolutely fantastic if two or three became star players and another three to six played for the Wings as grinders and/or call-ups. The fact that the team puts so much time, energy, effort and money into developing the guys who aren’t “sure things” or players whose bodies, brains and hockey skills don’t come together at the same time…
Well, it’s either the price of doing business, it’s downright generous (especially given that the players who aren’t brought back to the Wings’ camp tend to latch on elsewhere) or it’s somewhere in between.
So that’s the philosophical part. In the execution part, whistles and stoppages in drills for both Storm, Weidenbach, Bedard and Fraser’s crew were normal. In many of Storm’s drills, no pucks were present, and one (or more!) pucks tend to appear as the days go by; as Weidenbach emphasized edge work, legs under bodies and a little “spaghettification” of the upper torso to ensure that the lower body takes credit for the pushing and shoving, there were neither pucks nor players shadowing their peers with five feet of clearance between them. In Fraser’s case, while we’re witnessing tipped shots and rebounds in play to the extent that drills aren’t finished until rebounds are put in the back of the net or cleared, only Landon Ferraro made the front page of the Traverse City Record-Eagle for getting laid out by Smith on the first day, and nobody got smoked or has suffered a camp-ending injury from the physical grind as of yet.
In terms of individual players’ performances, in short form, here’s what I thought of some of Team Lidstrom’s standouts:
Thomas McCollum can be wonderful or thoroughly mediocre, directly depending upon whether he’s worried about the puck he didn’t stop the last time around or whether he’s just focusing on being “big,” forcing the shooter to make the first move and worrying about what’s in front of him. Like Jimmy Howard from a few years ago, McCollum’s still torn between the natural athletic gifts that make him a dominant but wildly inefficient goaltender and the conservative, uber-technically-sound drills that Jim Bedard’s pounded into his head, and he’s still in the midst of finding the happy medium between the two.
Today McCollum both had the water bottle broken as it popped off the back of the net behind him, had to deal with a puck that Landon Ferraro wedged behind the center post because he beat McCollum with such a darn hard shot, and, most of the time, superb lateral saves, a fantastic glove hand, expertly-timed poke checks and sprawling saves made with everything, including his forehead. He was better today. The rebounds didn’t linger dangerously within his equipment.
Tyson Teichmann: I have yet to figure the tremendously skinny Belleville Bulls goalkeeper out. At times, his slim frame belies superb fundamentals, and at other times, he’s giving me the Jordan Pearce performance from two years ago, making me want to say, “He’s full of holes!”
Brendan Smith: Smith still tends to rely upon his tremendous natural talents to do the work for him, but when he is focused and determined, he’s very evidently the most polished player out there, and while he’s never going to be anything other than skinny, his physical strength has improved by an order of magnitude over last year’s display. Again, I’m really impressed by the fact that he’s no longer taking that extra half-second to make a play. He just knows what to do now.
Dany DeKeyser: The tall-but-gangly Western Michigan defenseman found himself the celebrity of the day as his coach, Jeff Blashill, joined the Wings. Big kid, goofy hair, stay-at-home, solid.
Adam Almqvist: There are times that he stands people up and you say, “Oh, he plays in the Eliteserien in Sweden, he plays with men, I can see that now” and there are times when you see this still-skinny defenseman with great skating ability but a tiny, Mickey Redmond-short and high-lie stick and you wonder what the hell he’s doing not playing junior hockey somewhere. So talented and yet so…The fit and finish isn’t there. He can both look like an elite offensive defenseman in the making and a young man who needs to hit the gym, but not before learning how to play with a longer and more effective stick.
Max Nicastro: I didn’t see much of him on the first day due to back spasms. He hasn’t plateaued but he hasn’t moved forward. The big defenseman from Boston
[edit: make that Boston University!] actually stood out the most when he was reluctantly forced to tip shots because he was fearless and made it look easy. The other defensemen who were forced to tip shots by Jiri Fischer and Jim Paek looked scared, Smith included, at times. Nicastro just stood there and did his thing.
Richard Nedomlel: If Louis-Marc Aubry was growing into his gigantic body last year, Nedomlel is doing the same this year. He’s unbelievably large and gangly, at least 6’5” and all arms and legs, but he can skitter and trip during skill drills and seems to need his entire wingspan to properly complete some stickhandling drills. In addition to the fact that, as DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose reported, he’s dealing with the aftereffects of an antibiotic treatment, he’s just…Unbelievably raw. I can’t wait to see him engage in more battle drills, however, because this is not an environment where you see one’s snarl—I think I’ve seen all of one fight during a summer prospect camp, and it was more yelling and tossing gloves and yelling some more than anything else—but this guy has some snarl.
Ryan Sproul: Your prototypical, “I can see why the Wings drafted him in the second round” guy. Very big, very composed, elegant stickhandler, superb skater, physical, smart, pretty strong for his size…and yet he disappears from time to time. Sometimes you say, “How did they get him where they did?” and sometimes you know why.
Brad Walch: This year’s Alex Cord. The decently large Saginaw Spirit defenseman doesn’t do anything flashy and embodies, “stay at home,” though he’s smart and shows hints of subtle skill.
Brent Raedeke: Even with a full year of pro hockey under his belt, he’s still a little lacking in the physical strength department, but my Gord, if there ever was a grinder who could grind, Brent Raedeke is your slightly undersized, tremendously hard-working and gritty forward who just does everything right and knows what’s going to take him to the show—working his butt off and getting noticed because he is so very good at not making himself known unless absolutely necessary.
Gustav Nyquist: Much more slight than I thought he’d be after three years of college, and a bit of a hot dog—Nyquist is still the kind of guy who, at the end of a drill, will slink toward the far post and whack his stick on the ice three times, almost demanding a back-door pass for a pretty goal. He’s also got a near-Almqvist-short stick and tries to make it do the work for him (because he has hands, folks, really good ones), but when he’s into it he works hard, he’s fast and yes, you can see the offensive savvy, competitiveness and good-guy personality that earned him two Hobey Baker Award nominations. And he took extra classes at Maine so he’s only a few credits away from his degree.
But as he turns pro and gets used to the rigors of an 80-game season and playing against men ten years his senior, he’s gonna have a high and hard learning curve to climb and master. There will be big ups and big downs.
Trevor Parkes: Now that he’s got a contract the scowl is gone, but his work ethic is no less, “I’m going to prove everyone wrong by out-competing you” strong. He’s got a flair for offense, he’s not overly big but he’s ripply in terms of his musculature, he’s a strong skater with a hard shot and his edge is apparent no matter what he’s doing. He’ll probably head back to the Montreal Junior (so says RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, so I believe her), but he wants to at least make the Wings’ brass think about letting him turn pro this year.
Willie Coetzee: Still the whirling dervish. Elite hands, elite skating, offensive aplomb galore, great shot, good passes, dangler and deker, but he doesn’t put those things together on a regular enough basis to make an impact all the time.
Landon Ferraro: He told me (see below) that he doesn’t know a thing about how he’s going to adapt to Grand Rapids, but after a frustrating and injury-marred junior career, he’s got a smile on his face as he prepares for a fresh start and the start of his professional career. He never had a gigantic ego, but he understood that he was Ray Ferraro’s son and that was a chip on his shoulder that held him back for a while, and the nice thing about being a member of the Red Wings’ organization is that he’s not judged upon what his dad did or didn’t do. He’s just Landon and his job is to win a spot, as he told me, try to get in some exhibition games and continue to make positive strides in terms of his recovery from a sports hernia and continuing to get stronger physically.
He’s a great skater, he’s a playmaker and scorer and again, like Nyquist, coming out of junior hockey, and especially an injury-marred season, he’s going to have a hard road ahead of him in terms of learning to deal with the ups and downs while playing against men, but the Wings signed him and see big things for him in the future for a reason.
Nick Oslund: Johnny come lately? Oslund was someone whose tremendous raw physical skills, determination and ability to both grind it out and occasionally display some flashes of a power foward’s game were evident from the start, but as he exits his senior season at Saint Cloud State and has about a month left on the Wings’ contractual books, he’s not exactly wowie-zowie amazing but he’s coming together physically and mentally. My dark horse for a contract because the potential is there and so is the will now.
Adam Estoclet: He’s very evidently a 22-year-old with four years of college hockey and a stint with the Providence Bruins under his belt, but he’s also very evidently still a bit skinny and weak. Good skater with silly good hands, Ferraro-Smith-level hands, and at least in the skill drills he’s dazzling, but what’s there beyond his shot? I don’t know yet.
Dean Chelios: Chelios the younger is definitely slick, works hard and competes well but as of yet, neither Dean nor Jake have shown tons of pro potential. They are, however, hard workers, and as their father peeked in today (only Chelios, Ryan Martin and one of the Wings’ amateur scouts who I don’t know by name were here today—Ken Holland went back down to Detroit to talk to Chris Osgood and Kris Draper this weekend), I’m guessing that they’ll crank it up a notch.
Casey Fraser: If the coach’s sons were older and bigger, they’d be more than, as Mr. Fraser himself suggested, players who their peers deem to be, “Really bad draft picks,” but the undersized youngsters are like their father in terms of their work ethic and attention to detail and they hold their own.
Julien Cayer: Very interesting. Cayer’s got a year left at Clarkson and it might be a very good thing. The power forward is finally filling out and looks like he belongs amongst the more highly-skilled players. He’s big, physical, skates well and does a solid job of keeping up in the stickhandling drills where he might not have a few years ago.
Friday marked the first of a six-day marathon’s worth of split drills, where the prospects will be roused out of bed early, come to the rink and either start working out or get on the ice by 8:30 and they won’t leave until five. On Friday at least, they ate at the rink, and while I have yet to see the entire building, I’m wondering where exactly they’re finding the time and/or space to take 45-minute siestas. I think that by the end of the skill-developing portion of camp next Wednesday, they’re going to be more exhausted than I am. This is a grind and I’m glad that they’re in their early 20’s, fit as fiddles and have energy to spare, because it is nothing less than a grind, and it only gets more complicated from here on out.
I’m getting tons of questions about Val-d’Or Foreurs defenseman Alexei Sergeev, and at present, he’s as much a mystery to me as he is to you.
In the multimedia department, here are the afternoon interviews I conducted with Thomas McCollum…
And Landon Ferraro:
Here’s hoping that I can write an overnight report…Assuming that my internet gets fixed. Both the rink and the hotel have had interweb problems. One of those days, folks, and with a half moon in the sky and the National Cherry Festival going on downtown, you know as well as I do what my priorities are. This ain’t no vacation!
Update: Before I go, the Wings’ website just posted a 38-image gallery from the camp, and, well…
Someone who hates the Wings as much as you and I care for them gave them a huge compliment. Go figure.
Update #2: Per the Free Press’s George Sipple, both DeKeyser and I were wondering why the Wings’ press corps descended upon him after the morning skate…until we found out that Jeff Blashill had in fact been hired as one of Mike Babcock’s assistant coaches…
Western Michigan rising sophomore defenseman Danny Dekeyser, a free agent invitee to the Wings’ prospect camp, said it was a good opportunity for Blashill to join the Wings.
“It’s good news for him,” Dekeyser said. “Sad to see him go.”
Dekeyser said Blashill set high standards in his one season at WMU.
“He’s not going to let you slide on anything,” Dekeyser said. “He demands a lot out of you.”
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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.