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The Malik Report

Impressions from the first day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp ‘17

The Red Wings' summer development campers hit the ice at Centre ICE Arena for a brief set of practices on Friday, preceded by a half hour's worth of goaltending drills.

As there are 18 defensemen among the 45 participants, half of the 50-minute practice was split with forwards and defenders occupying the West and David's Rinks, respectively, and the other half of the practice interspersed defensemen and forwards for "team" drills.

By summer development camp standards, the drills were fairly routine: as somewhere between six and eight coaches supervised each group of players 2-on-0 drills that warmed up the goaltenders, and in this instance in which everyone looked fast.

Big Jack Adams (6'5") was particularly impressive, and Michael Rasmussen displayed a serious case of "Mantha Feet"--put simply, at 6'6," the kid looks slow when he's not churning those big legs, and he doesn't churn those big legs unless he has to.

The forwards--I ended up watching the forwards as the defensemen worked on David's Rink, and I was set up in the West Rink with my laptop everything else hooked up and ready to go--then moved on to a 3-on-0 drill with an "interchange," in which there were three "touches" on the puck before the highest player would shoot with something of a screen in front of the net.

As was the case last summer, Dylan Sadowy put on an absolute clinic during the skill drills, dekeing, dangling and stuffing home slick backhanders, but Sadowy had a rough rookie season, and it remains to be seen what he can do during team play against men.

By the third drill, forwards were playing "defense" as a player would skate down low toward a coach's glove placed at the bottom of the faceoff dot, that player would skate laterally to get a down low shot on the goal, and then he and another winger would stand in front of the net as a third player unleashed a slap shot from the blueline.

Luke Kutkevicius impressed with his mobility during the drill, and Givani Smith...was all over the place, but boiling with enthusiasm. He had something of an "off day," but he was sure trying hard.

The fourth and fifth drills involved a set of 3 players skating in on a 3-on-2 against two of the coaches--among their ranks were Griffins coach Todd Nelson, assistant coaches Ben Simon and Bruce Ramsay, goaltender coaches Jeff Salajko and Brian Mahoney-Watson, director of player development Shawn Horcoff and director of player evaluation Jiri Fischer, Toledo Walleye coach Dan Watson and assistant coach Andy Delmore, as well as two assistant coaches that I didn't recognize--and the players would skate in past the passive resistance, get a shot off, and then retrieve a puck sent around the side boards to slide a "rebound" toward the goal.

Again, Michael Rasmussen looked slow as his 6'6," 221-pound frame traversed the ice, and Swedish prospect Mattias Elfstrom showed some hands as he roofed a couple of pucks.

The next two drills focused on layered "entries" in which one, then two players would skate in from repositories at center ice in on the goaltender, and each successive player would stop at the net and provide a screen for a second and then third shooter. The zone entries took place on each side of the ice (i.e. left or right) and eventually up the middle, with some puck support staggered between the bluelines.

Around drill 7, I snuck over to David's Rink, and I found that the defensemen were engaging in the same drills as the forwards on the West Rink.

My first glimpses of defensemen were fairly rudimentary: it doesn't take a genius to figure out that 6'3," 201-pound Patrick McCarron might strike you as a "big boy," I liked Gustav Lindstrom's edge work and outlet passes, and as crisp as Libor Sulak was, Darren Eliot's son Mitch did a good job of keeping up with the forwards--though Vili Saarijarvi's seamless skating was evident in that he had to "pull up" to not out-race the "wingers" on his flanks toward the net.

By the 8th drill, the coaches decided to fold forwards into the mix, and the teams were seprated into groups "Zetterberg" and "Kronwall," for whom I don't have roster lists yet. I can tell you that the "white team's" forwards skated on David's Rink, and the "red team" skated on the West Rink, while black jersey-wearing defensemen split up to 9 and 9.

The group began by engaging in a chip-and-chase drill that highlighted Dennis Cholowski's head-up puck movement, and Cholowski both no longer weighs 150 pounds (he's probably up to 170-175) and he was very vocal, chatting with his teammates about where they needed to be during drills.

That's something you notice about the second-year players and subsequent-year participants more than the first-year kids; in addition to working a little harder to perfect their drills, the more experienced players talk more on the ice, right from the get-go.

I had to laugh a couple of times as coach Todd Nelson had Cholowski, Sadowy and Smith show a "wheel through center ice" drill to the larger group, and the trio goofed up both times, but those things happen, especially on the first day.

Eventually, the final set of drills, the "wheel through center" 3-on-0, was executed correctly by Cholowski, Chase Pearson and Michael Pastujov, and the players finished up their drills.

The defensemen headed back on to the ice at 1 PM for a set of skill-building drills, but I was unable to take notes as there were media availabilities at the time, so I watched the defensemen being put through their paces at the West Rink from its north end, occasionally sneaking off to look at the Vaughn goalie equipment that was being demoed that day to a mostly CCM-using crowd.

With that, I'm going to move on to some very, very preliminary player evaluations, and I must remind you that the team is not using the summer development camp to evaluate players for jobs. The team views what they're doing as an educational process!

Please note that players with a * are free agent invites, and players with a + are Grand Rapids Griffins signees.


#11 David Pope: The 6'3," 198-pound-listed University of Nebraska-Omaha winger is going into his senior year at UNO, and Pope looks every bit the sniper that he did when the Red Wings drafted him. This past year he registered 13 goals among 31 points in 34 games, and while Pope doesn't look like he weighs 200 pounds, he's certainly come a long way from the 160-pound skinny kid that could only shoot. Pope's got a more well-rounded game now and he looked comfortable on his first day.

#17 Tommy Marchin*: The 6'3," 215-pound 21-year-old from Algonac goes to Brown, and he's put up some good numbers in his freshman year and some not-so-good numbers in his sophomore year. I mostly saw Marchin fumbling the puck a bit here and there, and he looked frickin' huge.

#26 Chase Pearson: Pearson scored 14 goals among 22 points in his first season at Maine, and the 6'2," 200-pound center is an effective puck-mover who has a sharp shot and good puck sense--and by that I mean that his level of situational awareness is high. He's not a speedster, but he gets around the ice well, especially given that he's a big lug.

#32 Graham Slaggert*: The 5'11," 183-pound incoming freshman to the University of Notre Dame didn't make much of an impression among the 21 forwards and 45 participants. I can't say whether that was him or me!

#37 Michael Rasmussen: The Red Wings' first-round draft pick is 6'6" and 221 pounds, and is the captain of the WHL's Tri-City Americans. I saw a lot of Anthony Mantha in Rasmussen, except that Rasmussen is more of an "up the middle" guy as a center (and yes, he does like to stop at the net and stay there, jamming home rebounds). Rasmussen could use an extra step of skating, but this suggestion that he's somehow immobile just doesn't take into account the fact that he's a massive body that doesn't have to try that hard to skate up ice. I liked the way he looked in tight, I thought his passing was solid, and I think he's just someone who's got to maximize his stride by skating harder more of the time.

#44 Dylan Sadowy: What a puzzle! The 6,' 205-pound winger posted all of 4 goals and 2 assists in 38 games with Grand Rapids, he got hurt and never got back in the lineup. For reasons beyond me, the Wings never sent him to Toledo, and Sadowy served as a "Black Ace" during the playoffs as his first pro season was a huge disappointment. The hardest part of figuring out where Sadowy fits is that he is just absolutely magic in the skill drills, and he looks great playing among his peers, but put him in the AHL, and he disappeared for a year. How good is Dylan Sadowy? It remains to be seen, and just because he's really good at the summer camp doesn't mean all that much given his rough season.

EDIT: Sadowy did play for Toledo last year, posting 4 points in 6 games.

#47 Brett Supinski*: The 6,' 170-pound Union college junior posted 36 points (8 goals and 28 assists) during his sophomore season, but Supinski didn't stand out among the first-day skaters. When you only have 50 minutes' worth of time to try to evaluate 45 players, you don't get a big impression from everybody.

#56 Mattias Elfstrom: This is the 6'3," 200-pound Malmo Redhawks winger's first prospect tournament despite being drafted two years ago, and right away, his goal-scoring abilities (he had 18 goals and 43 points in 36 Under-20 league games) were very evident today. Elfstrom can roof 'em and snipe from many areas on the ice.

#63 Dominik Shine+: The Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted 5'11," 175-pound winger turned pro after a 30-points-in-33-games season at Northern Michigan, and the one thing Shine looked on Friday was FAST. Shine roars up and down the ice and he transports the puck at top speed. He's gonna be one to watch this weekend.

#67 Lane Zablocki: The Babcock pick! Zablocki, a 6,' 190-pound center, posted 54 points in 64 games for the Regina Pats and then Red Deer Rebels last season, but the only thing I could think of when I watched him was BLOCKY. Zablocki is a sound two-way forward who is a meat-and-potatoes player, going to the front of the net and jamming rebounds.

#70 Luke Esposito+: The 5'10," 183-pound graduate of Harvard posted a point per game during his senior season (36 points in 36 games), and I was hoping to see another Kyle Criscuolo-like talent in the player with many famous relatives (go ahead and click on the Elite Prospects profile to the left), but he didn't skate today.

#73 Zach Gallant: The 6'2," 198-pound Peterborough Petes forward looked good on the rush and downright speedy at times while lugging the puck up ice, and he's somebody I'm going to watch closely as the Wings picked him 83rd overall this June.

#74 Jack Adams: I don't know whether it's the name, his gangly skating stride or his massive 6'5," 204-pound frame, but the incoming Union College freshman really intrigues me. Adams posted 37 goals and 60 points in 56 USHL games this past season, and he rags the puck up ice like he knows where it's supposed to go. I really liked his body language and his finishing skills.

#76 Brady Gilmour: I have been told to watch the 5'10," 170-pound Saginaw Spirit center as Gilmour is supposed to be more than the sum of his parts. On Friday, he was fast on a team where "everyone is fast," and that was good to see.

#78 Sean Josling*: The 5'11," 166-pound Sarnia Sting forward was brought in as a free agent invitee, and I didn't see much of him as I tried to scour my eyeballs for as many player impressions as I could get.

#79 Oliver Castleman*: Big name, small size at 5'10," 180 pounds, and he posted 40 points in 66 games with the Niagara IceDogs. Didn't make much of a first impression.

#80 Luke Kutkevicius*: Another name that's hard to miss, I liked what I saw from the 6'1," 162-pound Hamilton Bulldogs forward. He didn't post many points this past season (22 in 66 games), but Kutkevicius looked to have a good head on his shoulders and strong awareness of his position on the ice.

#81 Givani Smith: The Wings' 46th overall pick in 2016 has gotten bigger at 6'2" and 206 pounds, but Smith was a happy mess on Friday, bumbling the puck around enthusiastically and doing his best to find his sea legs after a couple of months without hockey. There are always a couple of players who are very talented but don't look good on the first day, and the agitating, net-front-seeking Smith was one of them.

#82 Isaac Johnson*: The 6'2," 174-pound free agent forward from the Des Moines Buccaneers didn't make much of an impression on the first day.


#2 Dennis Cholowski: I think that everybody was watching the 6'1," 180-pound (and that sounds like an honest number) Cholowski closely because of circumstances beyond his control, and in a way, that's not really fair. Cholowski was the player the Wings picked with the pick they traded for Pavel Datsyuk's salary (ultimately spent on Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek) and a top-pair defenseman in Jakob Chychrun. I don't know if Cholowski is ever going to be a Chychrun-type player, but I do know that he is extremely intelligent, he's a heads-up defenseman who moves the puck very well without looking down at his stick, and his skating is superb. I also don't know what happened at Saint Cloud State University that made the would-be engineering student want to turn pro, nor do I know whether he's going to play for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL or the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL this upcoming season. There's a lot up in the air here, and it takes away from a very nice young man with top-four-to-top-three potential.

#4 Alfons Malmstrom: Looks solid. The 6'2," 190-pound Orebro defenseman, a 2016 draft pick, didn't put up a lot of points in the J20 league, but he looked to be a rock-solid defender from what little I saw of him, and that matches up with his scouting report.

#24 Patrick Holway: The University of Maine sophomore had a superb freshman season, posting 12 points in 36 games on a deep Maine blueline, and Holway looks bigger and heavier at 6'4" and 204 pounds, but he remains gangly in a, "All my limbs aren't quite in control" way, and he could be a more efficient skater.

#27 Mitch Eliot*: The 6,' 188 pound Michigan State sophomore didn't put up many points during his freshman campaign, but it is quite evident from the get-go that Eliot is a speedy, puck-handling defenseman with a high hockey IQ. Takes after his father.

#28 Vili Saarijarvi: Bigger, smarter, sharper. Saarijarvi is now listed at 5'10" and 172 pounds, and he may be a little closer to 180, and Saarijarvi and Filip Hronek are by far the most intriguing pair of prospects on the Wings' blueline--not named Dennis Cholowski, anyway. Even in limited viewing, Saarijarvi has a fleet-footed forward's speed, superb maneuverability, heads-up play and a good stick to compliment his strong positioning and backwards skating skills. He looked really good out there, and he is top-four material. It remains to be seen whether he trends higher.

#48 Gustav Lindstrom: I was left a little puzzled by the 6'2," 187-pound, right-shooting defenseman from the Swedish second division. Lindstrom looked quite mobile and had a strong shot, but he's definitely not as strong as his size would indicate, and he seemed a in a little over his head during the first day of development camp.

#53 Alex Peters: Now here is a real puzzle for you. A 6'4," 220-pound 22-year-old who was drafted but unsigned by Dallas, who spent last season as the Flint Firebirds captain and is headed to St. Mary's University of the Canadian Intraunversity Sport league. The massive defenseman sure looked big out there, but I didn't see much else from him. He's one to watch, though, because his pedigree indicates that either he's underachieved, or somebody's not looking in the right place.

#58 Patrick McCarron+: The 22-year-old graduate of Cornell was signed by the Griffins because he's 6'3," he posted 25 points in 35 NCAA games, and he's got a bit of a mean streak...But mean streaks are hard to find during summer development camps. I saw him, he looked mobile and sharp on the puck, but that's all I got out of Friday.

#75 Evan Fiala*: Fiala is a gigantic 6'4," 205-pound defenseman who had 139 penalty minutes in 70 games for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs and then Saskatoon Blades. This is NOT the kind of defenseman that stands out during a summer development camp for anything other than his size and intimidiation factors, but he looked solid enough moving the puck around during the skill drills. He'll probably play on the prospect tournament team and show his stuff there.

#84 Reilly Webb: Webb earned an "AWW" award for being completely overwhelmed by being drafted by the Red Wings less than two weeks before skating on the ice during a summer development camp that has him enthused and overwhelmed. A 6'3," 201-pound defenseman out of Hamilton, Webb is big and raw.

#86 Malte Setkov: Setkov is a really intriguing character. A 6'6," 192-pound native of Denmark, he played for Malmo's J20 team in Sweden, and the word I would use to describe the massive defenseman? Fast. He looked fast out there, at 6'6" and a gangly 192 pounds.

#87 Filip Hronek: All of 19 and a little cocky, coming off a Grand Rapids Griffins playoff run in which he managed to play a couple of games and not look out of place, Hronek looked like he was just getting his conditioning back after a long and exhausting playoff run, but he still displayed the patience and poise that has him both turning pro with the Griffins this year (like Saarijarvi) and possibly projecting as a top-four defenseman. He's got all kinds of skill and is bigger than his 6,' 164-pound listed weight, which is really good, because last year at this time, he really was a hundred and sixty pounds.

#88 Libor Sulak: The Red Wings' special signing out of the Czech Republic, all 6'2" and 207 pounds of him, didn't really look like someone who posted 28 points in 54 Austrian league games. Sulak is somebody who is either going to play in the NHL or is going to play in Europe--he has a contract with the Lahti Pelicans that supercedes any Grand Rapids Griffins commitments--and that's a little disappointing as the 23-year-old looked like somebody who could rather desperately use some North American seasoning.

#92 Tomas Dvorak*: Dvorak must be a Jiri Fischer pick. The 6'4," 203-pound defenseman is coming out of the Czech league, and the kid is just massive, and is a bit of a puzzle. In the skill drills for defensemen, he was elegant.

#94 Kasper Kotkansalo: A heavy dude. The 6'2," 196-pound Sioux Falls (USHL) grad is headed off to play for Boston University, and he looks like someone who has his head together and is very mobile, if not a little speedy, and as suggested, a heavy dude, well-built.

#95 Jordan Sambrook: What I like about Sambrook is that he knows he's a work in progress. He reminds me of Bob Rouse--the right-handed Brad Stuart--and Sambrook is still working on his mobility, reach, range and conditioning, but he was able to help his Erie Otters win an Ontario Hockey League championship and play at the Memorial Cup, and he did indeed say that those learning experiences were big stepping stones for him.

#97 Adam Larkin*: Larkin may be the smartest guy out there, with the exception of Dennis Cholowski. The 22-year-old Yale senior is fleet-footed, situationally aware, his positioning is good and he has a strong outlet pass. It's not Saarijarvi start-the-rush stuff, but he displayed an incredibly high on and off-ice IQ.


#30 Chase Perry: It's Perry's third development camp with the Wings, on his third team (Colorado College, the BCHL's Wentachee Wild, and now RPI), and I don't know what to make of the 6'3," 195-pound netminder who doesn't really have a good stick side and pops out some odd rebounds, but is technically now near-perfect and yet doesn't dominate in NCAA hockey by any means. Perry has all the physical tools to be an excellent netminder, but the exceptionally gangly business management student is still trying to put himself together going into his senior year eligibility-wise.

#31 Matej Machovsky: It must have been first-day-of-camp jitters, second time around version, because Machovsky, who is a seasoned prospect, pro veteran coming out of the Czech league and a steady 6'2" and 187 pounds...looked like a technical mess out there. I've seen Machovsky before, and his technical game can be quite leaky, but the thing is that Machovsky knows how to slither around the crease and get a stick, a blocker, a toe or a glove tip on pucks and clear them out of trouble. He looked just out of sorts today, but that didn't stop him from making some spectacular saves...now that he's going to play in the AHL, he's got to work on making them routine.

#36 Kaden Fulcher*: Great glove, and everything else is a work in progress for Fulcher, whose skating needs work as it's all over the place and whose 6'3," 182-pound size is a little kind to a very gangly netminder. He played for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL and had a so-so campaign, but he's here to learn and he looked ready to do just that.

#38 Joren van Pottelberghe: He's come far, and he has a long way to go if he is to join the Wings' crowded goaltending pipeline. Claude Lemieux's client, a 6'2," 201-pound goaltender who split time with prospect Gilles Senn in Davos of the Swiss league, I see less and less of the Jonas Hiller-style "Swiss Butterfly" in JvP's game, but he's still trying to find his identity as a very large and very lanky goalie with a big wingspan and long legs. He's trying to revamp his style to a decently large extent, and that's hard to pull off, but necessary in his case.

#68 Filip Larsson: After struggling in the Swedish J20 league, Larsson is actually coming over to the USHL this upcoming season, where he'll play for Tri-City. Larsson isn't overly big at 6'2" and a generously-listed 187 pounds, but he possesses sharp toes and a good blocker, and hopefully he'll be able to put a couple of shaky seasons behind him in a new situation.

#90 Keith Petruzzelli: The Wings' latest goaltending draft pick is a massive monster at 6'6" and 185 pounds, and the Muskegon Lumberjacks graduate is headed to Quinnipac with John Vanbiesbrouck as a mentor and just a superb ability to get multiple facets of his body in front of the puck--but his glove hand isn't good at all. I was surprised by that, because he's otherwise superb technically.

And if you've managed to read all of this way, or just scroll down here, here's Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson speaking with the media:

I forgot to put this in, so: I'm still trying to raise a final $400 to break even as I work up here. If you're interested in lending a hand, as you have so generously done in the past, https://www.paypal.me/TheMalikReport should do you for.
Here's hoping that Saturday's article takes less time to write. Almost three hours for this one.
Update: You guys are REALLY going to find Shawn Horcoff's interview interesting. The Wings' director of player development held court for nearly 10 minutes, and gave very thoughtful answers:

OH YEAH I FORGOT: Lest you think this is a one-way conversation, please do ask me questions about the players, for the players, please ask, ask, ask. I can't guarantee that I will be able to ask everybody every question, or that I'll see what you want me to, but it's my darn job to pay attention here.

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TreKronor's avatar

Superb writeup. Money sent!

Posted by TreKronor on 07/07/17 at 08:22 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

Thanks, GJM.

as usual, excellent write-up - very complete

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 07/07/17 at 08:23 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Hopefully Sadowy doesnt turn out to be another Jurco - lots of show, no finish

Posted by TreKronor on 07/07/17 at 08:27 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Sadowy is why there is a fall prospect tournament, and why there is main training camp. The levels of competition only ramp up from here, and that’s the way it should be.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/07/17 at 08:30 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Cholowski: The story that never should have happened. Poor kid is gonna be judged by Holland’s *#$%@& for a long time.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 07/07/17 at 09:42 PM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

...and Michael Rasmussen displayed a serious case of “Mantha Feet”—put simply, at 6’6,” the kid looks slow when he’s not churning those big legs, and he doesn’t churn those big legs unless he has to.

well, he’ll never pilot a top-6 line with this feet. That makes him either a winger or Sheahan 2.0.

Posted by duhduhduh on 07/07/17 at 09:44 PM ET

The_Firebird's avatar

Did you get a chance to see Cole Fraser? I’d imagine that he wouldn’t have gotten much of a chance to show off his particular talents.

Posted by The_Firebird on 07/07/17 at 11:20 PM ET


Honestly, I take “Mantha Feet” to simply mean that it’s a very long (because he’s very tall) stride that looks slower than it actually is. Mantha is a significantly faster skater than he gets credit for, and much of that is because of the lazy appearance of his long strides. Simply put, with long, efficient strides, these guys simply don’t need to have that Nyquist-style fast churn to keep up with normal play.

Posted by ignition16 on 07/07/17 at 11:22 PM ET


Kind of intrigued by Castleman. Youngest kid eligible for the 2017 draft and scored at a 0.6 or so clip. Could hopefully be one of the Joe Hicketts type finds. Analytics look good on this kid. Will you be able to watch him a bit more and see if he makes any kind of a good impression?

Posted by Adler1cm on 07/08/17 at 08:15 AM ET


Did the wings cut ties with Mike McKee?

Posted by SevensForTed on 07/08/17 at 09:19 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.