Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Impressions from the last day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp

The last day of the Red Wings' summer development camp is my definition of anticlimactic--and as I said in the audio post, its always a little jarring.

A long, long time ago, the summer development camp ended with a shootout competition and a "money hat" awarded to the best shooter. These days, the players go through one more set of skill development drills with Tomas Storm, one more set of power skating drills with Andy Weidenbach, they have a systems practice (technically speaking, Team Yzerman followed that script, and Team Lidstrom's day began with the systems practice), and by the time the team allows people with digital sound recorders into the locker room, half of the players have their gear bagged up and ready to transport to their next generation, a quarter of the players--those with NCAA eligibility--are tossing their gear into bins as they have to return their equipment--and another quarter of the players are still peeling their gear off.

Add in the fact that there were immediately-after-practice yoga courses, lunch and one more set of off-ice workouts before this evening's exit interviews and tomorrow's departures, and it was hard to get in a word edge-wise.

For the fans, anyway, the development camp ends when the players leave the ice for the last time, and they did so facing away from the crowd this time, recording a "happy birthday" wish for Pavel Datsyuk (with Alexei Marchenko using Russian; Datsyuk turns 35 on the 20th of this month).

After four days of on-ice drills, a single two-a-day practice and a scrimmage, and after a total of six days in Traverse City, the players were ready to move on. The vast majority of them will head back "home" for another six or seven weeks before starting training camp with their junior teams, and cutting those camps short to take part in the prospect tournament on September 5th; those lucky enough to attend Team Canada's World Junior Selection Camp are headed to Brossard, Quebec on August 2nd; the AHL'ers-to-be will work out to prepare for said tournament; the NCAA-bound prospects have about seven weeks until they move to or move back to their respective places of education, and for European players like Ramsus Bodin and Mattias Janmark-Nylen, their teams' 2013-2014 seasons begin with a month's worth of exhibition games starting in early August.

Perhaps appropriately, it was the coaches who had their gear packed first, and were doing their damnedest to get the hell out of dodge after investing what were probably two weeks' worth of very short summer vacations (especially so for the Grand Rapids Griffins' coaches) to return to their families and off-sesaon homes, and a healthier-feeling Darren Helm wasn't far behind them.

Nick Jensen had the farthest-away gaze on his face as he's heading to a shoulder specialist to determine whether that fight with Tyler Bertuzzi did any lasting damage to his left shoulder, but even he seemed relieved that the week was over.

Then, as the Red Wings' camps Twitter account noted, there are the volunteers, who show up at the rink at six in the morning and don't leave until 9 or 10 at night--and spend even longer hours at the rink during the prospect tournament (whose dates and participants were announced today) and main camp:

The volunteers often take a week's worth of vacation from their day jobs to ensure that the prospects are treated just as well as the Red Wings' roster players, and they're "unsung heroes" and then some.

For those of us who've been showing up at the rink about an hour after they do, there was definitely some burnout among the ranks. We don't have to go through what the prospects do, but this ain't an easy job. I've been up here for three years now and I have yet to "see" the city. That's by my choice, of course, so I have no complaints about essentially living at the rink and my hotel, but it's draining, and as it's just as hot up here as it is downstate, and despite the niceness of my hotel room, I miss my own bed and the little old ladies I live with. I'm looking forward to heading home tomorrow.

In terms of stuff that other people have written about the recent activities at the camp:

Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner spoke with Tomas Holmstrom about his new-found role as a coach (and believe me, Jeff Blashill was recruiting Holmstrom very, very heavily to come visit the Grand Rapids Griffins on a regular basis this fall when the two last spoke on Sunday afternoon)...

“I’ve been watching a lot of hockey lately because I’m not playing anymore, and net front presence is just not there,” coach Holmstrom said. “I really want to help out the Red Wings, and that’s why I’m here. It’s a good experience for me.”

Considered to be one of the best ever at standing in front of the net -- a dirty job that few players are willing to master -- Holmstrom’s unique skill is something the Wings wanted him to teach their prospects.

“In a conversation, Homer expressed wanting to get back into hockey,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. “He’s one of the best net-front-presence players of his time. He obviously has some knowledge we thought he could impart, and we believed he would be a good addition to our camp.”

Holland has a history of keeping former Red Wings within the organization. Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood, Kirk Maltby and Jiri Fischer have all launched their post-playing careers in Detroit. But Holland doesn't offer up these Jobs simply as rewards for being exceptional players.

I'll let you read more of Holland's comments, and some from Kris Draper, on your own, mostly because Holmstrom's passion for teaching what he's teaching is remarkable to read, never mind hear in person: 

As well as it went, Holmstrom was somewhat shocked by the young players' lack of knowledge and skill on standing in front of the net. A tip drill in front of the net at practice is one thing, but it’s entirely different during the games.

“They don’t stand in front of the net, not even in practice," Holmstrom said. "When a shot comes, they move. It’s more than just standing still and doing a screen. There’s all this stuff around the net like puck retrievals and moving the ‘D’ around. Hopefully, the things I’m telling the kids make sense. I never thought twice about it (standing in front of the net). These kids are probably faster than me, shooting  harder than me and passing better than me. But I did something good out there. I could stand around the net.”

Holmstrom's not quite on Blues Brothers "I'm on a mission from God" terms, but it's pretty close. You can't help but get excited when he talks about how important his role was and how essential he believes it is to teach players how to emulate what he did, and you certainly can't argue with the results...

Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski Tweeted some pictures from today's activities...

And he penned a profile of Michael Babcock as well...

In his second year at the camp, Babcock Jr. said that he’s more comfortable on and off the ice.

“I know a bunch of the guys so it’s easier that way and you kind of know what to expect,” he said. “Camp’s a little bit shorter than the last year but I feel comfortable, feel good.”

Babcock Jr., who is 5-9 and 150 pounds, has spent the majority of his hockey career in the state of Michigan, and he excelled under coach Todd Johnson at Detroit Catholic Central.

“[He] was one of the best coaches I’ve had, if not the best,” the younger Babcock said. “He focused a lot of structure and skill and stuff so in the three years I was there I grew a lot.”

The Northville native had 18 goals and 24 assists in 30 games in his senior season with the Shamrocks, which made him feel more prepared for his jump to the USHL next season.

“I scored a lot more than I did previous years and I got the opportunity to be one of the guys that needs to be on to help the team win so it was a good leaning experience for myself.”

He played five games for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL this past season, but will play two full seasons in the league before heading off to Merrimack College. Two days ago, he was traded to the Fargo Force for a 2014 USHL draft pick. While he was not too happy to be traded, he drove through Fargo with his dad on the way to their cottage in Saskatchewan and liked what he saw.

“The place is unreal, the coaches are great, so I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “There’s really no reason not to get better there. They’ve had a long history, so hopefully we can get it done next year.”

Babcock will spend two seasons in Fargo and then head to Merrimack University where, like so many other college-bound hockey players, he plans on majoring in business...

I'll skip to what I deem to be the important part about his profile of free agent try-out and Michigan native Trevor Hamilton:

Despite camp being shortened by a couple of days this year, the players, including Hamilton, are still feeling the effects of the hard practices Red Wing coaches have them running.

“I’m feeling good but it’s tough here,” Hamilton said. “Most of the guys are getting exhausted toward the end of the week but they’re pushing through it.”

Hamilton said that two areas of his game need to improve the most, his strength and his skating. He’s been very receptive to the help Detroit coaches are offering.

“I’m looking to bulk up this summer and get better with my skating coach,” he said. “They’ve been teaching us a lot so I’m looking forward to keep working with them.”

This past season with the NDTP, the defenseman had four points in 23 games to go along with 51 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 186 pound Hamilton is awaiting his first season in Oxford, Ohio, with the team he committed to a couple of years ago.

(these are Nick's pictures, too)

Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish penned an article discussing the Red Wings' summer development camp-participating forwards...

The second biggest name at the camp was first round draft pick, Anthony Mantha. Mantha impressed me a lot; he knows how to use his size, he has a heavy shot with a quick release, and it is very accurate. He would pick a corner and hit it nine times out of ten.

Mantha does not need to work on much on the ice, but there have been questions of his compete level. From what I saw during development camp, the experts can start crossing that off of the list because he went hard and wants be on the Red Wings roster this season.

Mantha is more than likely head back to the QMJHL and will play one more season with Val-D’or before heading to Grand Rapids or Detroit.

Marek Tvrdon, who has been looking slow and rusty during most of camp, broke out of the funk a bit during yesterdays practice. Tvrdon is coming off of yet another injury, which might be an indication of what is to come from him, but he is still young.

Tvrdon has learned to use his body more and compared to last years camp he is miles a ahead of where he was. It seems that his mind is quicker than his body right now, but that could just be because he is recovering from injury.

The best asset that Tvrdon has is his shot and it might be even better this year. He possesses a quick release and the puck comes off hard.

And the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau posited a profile of Wings draft pick and hulking defenseman Marc McNulty:

“Camp has been a little bit tough,” McNulty said. “I haven’t been on the ice since the end of the season, but I am trying to learn as much as I can. The most important thing for me is working on my skating and adding strength. They are giving me the tools to improve.”

The 6-foot-6, 185 pound defensemen is one Detroit’s taller prospects, but like most prospects his age he needs to add bulk to his long frame. Even with his size advantage, McNulty doesn’t currently play with a physical edge, but that is an area he hopes to improve.

“I am a big tall guy and I have a lot of filling out to do which will help with being physical,” he said. “Playing physical is something I want to do more of and I think that will come with maturity. I am trying to add some muscle this summer and working with the camp trainers has emphasized the areas that I need the most work.”

After the training camp this September, McNulty is expected to return to Prince George of the WHL. Last season the rangy defenseman scored 8 goals and 15 points in 52 games.

“I think my season was a little up and down last year,” he said. “Obviously our team didn’t perform the way we would have liked and we didn’t make the playoffs. That was disappointing, but I think next year will be a different story for us. For me, personally, I am working hard this summer and the things I am learning here should really help me next year.”

While I've got you here, the Wings sent out a Facebook post regarding their "Volunteer Energy Red Patrol Squad," and they just Tweeted the following (and you can read about the Free Press's latest "best" "bracket" spiel on your own)...

In terms of what I witnessed today--and I'm going to keep this a wee bit briefer due to, well, burnout...

Tomas Storm and Jim Bedard split the players from the team I and the Left Wing Lock have referred to as Team Yzerman as soon as the team took to the ice.

David Pope and Ty Loney did not take part in any of the drills; nor did Darren Helm, though he came out for Jeff Blashill's systems drills. Mitchell Wheaton didn't skate at all during the develompent camp, nor did Kurt Etchegary, and today, Jared Coreau only worked with Bedard and the other goalies during the first seasson.

Storm set up his very fancy, very expensive "shooter tuitor" and, instead of tires with sticks placed inside them to represent a stick-checking defenseman, he used actual plastic "stick check" cut-outs with "skate" bases placed about a shoulder's worth apart. The ironic part is that the damn things kept breaking!

Storm's drills included the following:

  • Storm began by placing a pair of cones about ten feet apart, on the blueline on either side of the just-outside-the-bluleine faceoff dot, and he placed the two "stick checkers" at the top of the faceoff dot and on the faceoff dot, respectively. Then he placed a pair of tires in front of the net. The players were asked to skate forward with pucks on their sticks, to do a loop around whatever cone was to their forehand side, to deke on their backhand through the first "stick checker," on their forehand for the second "stick checker," and then to deke around the tires at the top of the "horseshoe" and shoot on net;
  • The drill's second iteration involved skating forward around the left cone and backward around the right cone, and then continuing the drill;
  • Storm then requested that the players tuck their legs together, and instead of employing crossovers to turn around the cones, that they would instead "shimmy" around them;
  • After that, Storm put the cones and stick checkers away, and he had one player skate from the side boards at center ice to the center ice faceoff dot, then skate in a S shape from the center of the blueline back to the center ice line, then down to the right side of the blueline, and then that player would skate toward the net--with a player opposing him, using the butt end of his stick instead of the blade of his stick to defend;
  • Storm switched the side of the ice from which the aforementioned drill was conducted, and that was it.

At the other end of the ice, Bedard's goalie drills included the following:

  • A very simple warm-up drill where the goaltenders faced shots from sticks placed 15 feet inside the blueline, essentially marking the top-to-inside part of the faceoff circle on the slot-facing sides, first with goalies stopping blocker side shots and then glove side shots;
  • I thought it was very interesting that Bedard sent passes to a shooter in the slot who would fire the puck, skate around a pair of sticks just demarkating the widest parts of the trapezoid, and then sending passes to the next player in line, who would shoot from the slot, and then make that from-the-trapezoid-area pass, both on the blocker and then glove side. That's sneaky in terms of testing goaltenders' tendencies to not track passes from behind the goal line very well;
  • Then three sticks were laid across the hash marks, and a skater had to take a pass from one side of the goal (blocker or glove), skate up to said sticks, take the puck and skate across said sticks before shooting. This is another subtle drill that required the goaltender to pull himself off the post and essentially be "raced" to the other side of the net, and even the most fundamentally sound netminders were out-raced at certain times;
  • Things got more skater-friendly during the next drill: the player would skate backward, take a pass, return the pass to the coach at the goal line while skating forward, receive a pass while skating backward, then skate around the goal and pass the puck to a player in the slot, who would take a shot on goal. The "passer" would then become the "shooter." Again, we're talking about a drill that's designed to throw goaltenders off their angles, and it worked. This drill was repeated for both the blocker and glove sides;
  • And my notes describe the final drill as follows: 3 passes from he center blueline, 10 feet inside the zone, to a shooter who had to skate around a glove placed on the ice, and take a forehand shot--with a pair of gloves placed 10 feet apart, 10 feet apart from each other, to allow both-handed shooters to shoot on their forehands.
  • When Andy Weidenbach took the players to engage in power skating, the goaltenders had to engage in some intriguing skate-to-the-cone work. With four cones set up in front of the net, with the middle two about five feet apart, and the perimeter cones placed parallel to the tops of the "horseshoe" crease, the goaltenders had to skate in a "V" pattern first from interior cone, back to the center of the crease, and then up to the next interior cone; and then they had to repeat that "V"-shape moving to the exterior cones;
  • Then four cones were placed equidstant to the faceoff dot, I'd say about 15 feet away, in a big box. The goaltenders would face "inward" toward the hash marks, slide while turning 90 degrees to face "away" from the goal, drop into the butterfly, get back up, drop and slide to the left, get back up, drop into the butterfly, get back up, drop and slide to the left, get back up, etc. etc. until a full 360 degree rotation had been achieved. That drill was repeated going "right" or "clockwise";
  • The drill was also repeated with the players standing up the entire time, and standing up, dropping and sliding (instead of the up down up down up down motion);
  • When one goalie was needed for the skating drills, the other netminders returned to their net and slid from goalpost to goalpost, dropping into the butterfly, getting up, and then dropping to stop a shot before going from post to post again (up and down);
  • Bedard replaced that four-cones-spaced-on-top-of-the-horseshoe drill with four pucks shot at the goalie in tight to, again, emphasize a combination of lateral mobility and positioning--and they were fired in rapid succession. That was the last drill.

At the other end of the ice, Andy Weidenbach's power skating drills involved "battling," puck protection and puck pursuit:

  • Weidenbach's first drill had one player starting at the goal line, skating up the wall with a puck, reversing his direction at the half boards to skate back toward the net and to attempt to score, all with a "pursuer" hounding him. That drill took place on both the goaltender's "glove" and "blocker" side;
  • I liked this one: Weidenbach had some players remain at the side boards along each goal line, and some players line up in a "repository" at center ice. A skater would chug up from the red line to center ice, skate around this "repository," then take a pass at the left or right blueline from one of the "repository," turn and shoot on net. The emphasis involved making a big circle around the repository with as few crossovers as possible, leaning into turns and pushing off with one's outside-facing foot instead;
  • Then things got a little more complicated: Skaters were asked to skate from the goal line to the far blueline, take a pass from a "repository" of players, pass it back from whence it came, to skate in a circle around thecenter ice circle to the another "repository" of players on the other side of the ice (say: the player comes out from the goal line on the goalie's glove side: he skates directly up to the far blueline, receives a pass, passes it back, then goes in a circle to the other side's blueline, blocker in this instance), take a pass from that other repository, and skate back toward the net from where they came and shoot;
  • Try this one on for size: then a skater would be asked to chase down a puck from a "repository" of players at the side boards, circle back to this repository via a clockwise circle while passing the puck back, reversing the flow and skating counterclockwise while receiving and then giving the puck back, and then taking a THIRD pass before skating toward the net and shooting. A give-and-go-and-give-and-go-and-give-and-go;
  • The best way I could describe the second-to-last drill sounded something like this: A skater would begin at the blueline, pass to a coach at one of the inside-the-zone faceoff dots, he would receive a pass back, circle the blueline clockwise or counter-clockwise, pass to the coach again, receive another pass, and then shoot. The skating motion yielded a sort of "6" for the right-wing side and a "g" for the left-wing side;
  • And finally, in a player-on-player drill, a puck-possessing player would skate in from the blueline to the faceoff dot, meet a "checking" opponent, skate back to the top of the faceoff dot, spin clockwise on the right wing (goalie's glove side) or counterclockwise (goalie's blocker side) and shoot.

Team Yzerman left the ice to allow the Zamboni to resurface it, and after coach Blashill's drills took place, team Yzerman repeated the drills.

As it turned out, the vast majority of Jeff Blashill's drills were not implemented by Jeff Blashill. He took a back seat to Jim Paek for the vast majority of the practice, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a good move.

Paek/Blashill's drills included the following:

  • Pretty simple 2-on-0 and 3-on-0 drills to warm the goalies up and get the skaters' legs moving;
  • A twist to the 3-on-0 drill where the give-and-go passes yielded a "give" to a player who would stand at a defenseman and shoot at a player who had "gone" to the net to screen the goalie;
  • The players then lined up at each of the four faceoff dots. Two players, both from the same side of the ice, would skate up to a coach parallel to those dots at center ice, engage in a give-and-go pass, and keep going up the ice the same way with the player who was not given the puck "shadowing" and stick-checking the other (this actually involves gap control as the "checker" has to shadow his opponent as closely as possible despite having a two or three-step disadvantage, and you'd be surprised at how much that means at this developmental level);
  • The drill then shrank from a give-and-go with coaches at center ice to tighter give-and-goes with coaches standing at the bluelines;
  • In a second iteration, perhaps to increase fatigue, the "shooter" would become the "checker" for a forward receiving a pass from a coach at the other end of the ice, requiring even more "gapping up" against one's opponent.

Halfway through the set of drills, the players stretched, and Darren Helm had led every previous one, but he tapped Martin Frk on the butt until Frk understood that he'd been given the honor of leading the stretches.

  • Out came the white board, and the players and Paek talked for two minutes. Why? This time, skaters lined up at all five faceoff dots. A pair of skaters at each inside-the-zone faceoff dot would engage in a give-and-go, they'd skate up either the right wing (during drill 1) or the left wing (during drill 2), and at center ice, a player from the center ice faceoff dot repository would join the fray as a defending player. So it was a 2-on-1 drill coming up either the right or left side with a twist: in this drill, the defending player is automatically flat-footed against a pair of offensive players who've had half a rink with which to build up speed--or so you would think. Instead, the vast majority of the pairs of skaters seemed to run into a wall, and even when they were facing a forward, their offensive momentum would stall to a halt
  • Coach Blashill came back into play with a 3-on-2 drill that he had to stop, re-explain and re-start, which I can only explain as follows:

Dump and chase, chaser to d man, chips up to next group. Lots of flow.

Not sure what the *#$%@& this drill is about other than gap control.

Whistle at 9:53: drill moved to opposite side of the rink, to goalie's glove side/left half boards.

Passive positioning here? Shadowing? Defensive posture? I don't understand the point of this drill.

It's slick and smooth and most of the guys keep up with it well—with the draft picks tending to stand out.

Yeah, that's as good as I can give you. 2 players started the drill, a third defended, the "dumper" had to chase the puck, the "chaser" had to give the puck to the defenseman, and that defenseman chipped it up to the next "dumper."

When there are thirty guys on the ice and six of them are in motion, and even they're barely keeping up with it, sometimes that's the best you can do.

  • Things got MUCH simpler during the next drill, which involved an "open" dump-and-chase that one player would chase down and another would retrieve, and then they'd go one-on-one between nets placed at the half boards (so there were 4 nets on the ice and 4 goalies in play). At the whistle, the "attacker" would become the "defender," too, so a goal did not end the "battling." Just as was the case with that two-on-one deal with the defender standing at center ice, the "step" either possessed or surrendered by the defenseman played a huge role in the outcome of the play. That "step" is sometimes so easily negated at the NHL level, but here, it was like watching players try to skate uphill;
  • And the last drill was intriguing because it was equally...Quirky. The red-jersey-wearing and white-jersey-wearing players were separated into "teams" and got onto their respective benches. Three players from each side were picked--and it was pretty much at random--to engage in a full-ice three-on-three, with a coach deciding which team would attack and which team would defend by dumping the puck in to one attacking side or the next. The coaches kept score and determined when players would change--and at one point, Blashill had only the player designated to go to the front of the net change. So the changes were game-like--a goal didn't necessarily result in a line change, puck possession was not necessarily awarded to the team that had played best on the last shift. It was intriguingly organized chaos.

At the end of the last drill, which the white team won, the red team took a lap, and that was that.


In terms of player assessments, I'm plain old running out of gas after six very long days, so I'll do what I can and revisit these as you deem necessary.

Team Yzerman:


#43 Darren Helm: Helm looked happy today. Plain old happy. Again, he's not working out, at least as far as I know; his hands were a bit slow even by his standards, and the power in his stride wasn't quite there. On top of that, he didn't engage in any of the skill development drills, causing some folks to freak out. But he's skated every day that the Wings' prospects have been on the ice, scrimmage included, and he told MLive's Brendan Savage that he was very pleased with his progress.

Long story short: As of Sunday, he was still in the parking lot next to the road to recovery. Helm's officially on that road now, even if he's just beginning the journey.

#67 Rasmus Bodin: I cannot figure Rasmus out to save my life. There are times that he looks like an absolutely wonderful power forward in the making, a big, beefy checker who has solid hands and good skating to boot, but just enjoys pushing people around in an un-Swedish fashion...And there are times that he looks like he's just kind of cruising out there, and worse, times that he looks like he doesn't understand what's going on. His "compete" level comes and goes, and given all his naturally-gifted talent to crash and bang, I sure hope that the, "European prospects are now teams' property for four years instead of two" rule has been implemented retroactively.

Long story short: Big player, big on potential as a checker. Rasus remains lost in the wilderness far too regularly.

#80 Dean Chelios: Chelios took a superb performance in the scrimmage playing alongside Anthony Mantha and Martin Frk and seemed to springboard off of it, displaying elite levels of playmaking, speed and stick-to-it-ive-ness during the last third of the development camp. His issue is that he doesn't show that kind of effort, execution or "jam" on a regular basis.

Long story short: Heading back to college for his senior season at MSU. If he puts his game together on a regular basis, he will find professional employment.

#42 Martin Frk: Frk tended to hot-dog his way through drills during the latter half of the camp, and that kind of bugged many observers. To me, given how gassed he looked during the first couple of days, the fact that he had enough energy left over to smile instead of skating to the bench in what turned to be a naturally hunched-over stance, almost looking like he was about to pass out. Getting one's legs back sometimes yields goofing off. The point for Frk is that while he was goofing off, he was also taking in the detail work, and he was engaging in and enjoying battling for the puck and grinding it out in traffic.

Long story short: Yes, yes, yes. The prospect tournament will give us a better barometer of how Frk stands up in competitive situations against other players playing for AHL and NHL jobs. But despite the goofing off, having spoken to him multiple times, his attutide matches his latitude, and as far as this ridiculously elitely-talented goal-scorer is concerned, his latitude is preparing to compete against men after dominating in an 18-to-20-year-old's league.

#63 Phillipe Hudon: I love his grit, I love his physicality, I love the fact that the former scorer turned grinder has embraced his role and that he wants to use the next two years to prove that his setbacks are behind him and that he can indeed be the kind of gritty, hard-charging fourth-line forward that can provide the Wings with all sorts of piss and vinegar. I just don't know if those two years are enough. His work ethic and character are off the charts. His skill level is solid, especially in terms of his skating and checking. But does he have that edge amidst a sea of guys who can play in third and fourth-line roles? I don't know.

Long story short: Going back to major junior for his "overager" season, most likely. He's got long odds but I'm certainly rooting for him.

#64 David Pope: Pope was injured in some way, shape or form, and did not take part in today's drills. Between the scrimmage (where he scored a goal) and the previous three days' worth of drills, what I can tell you is that the Wings drafted a 6'2," 170-something-pound project with ridiculously slick sniper's hands.

Long story short: He has another year with the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors and then he's heading to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. If he can round out his game and fill in his frame, he might be something special.

#76 Ty Loney: Also didn't take part in Monday's drills, and, despite the name factor, didn't do much to impress, especially given that he's listed at 6'3" and 195 pounds. Will go back to the University of Denver and may not return.

Long story short: Free agent bobbed along with the current. Didn't do much to stand out.

#73 Brody Silk: Silk got better as the camp went on, and he began to show a very physical edge. But as a six-foot-tall grinding winger who couldn't drop the gloves, and was smart enough not to in his case, he could only show so much given that this was a skill development camp.

Long story short: Bobbed to the top of the heap, may or may not return for the prospect tournament.

#39 Anthony Mantha: He's a near-Frk-talented goal-scorer and puck-lugger in a 6'4" or 6'5" frame, but he weighs maybe 175 pounds [edit: or he certainly looks like it] and sometimes he didn't compete at all away from the puck. He has to work harder and work more consistently, all while adding muscle to his frame, and at least in terms of what he was saying, he plans on embracing the challenge.

Long story short: At 18 there's tons and tons of elite potential here and he's going to come back and have to compete his tail off at the prospect tournament.

#62 Zach Nastasiuk: Natasiuk started the scrimmage on a line with Mantha and Frk, got demoted, and after that it was kind of a "downhill from there" story. Natasiuk is a grinding, gritty forward who's already embraced that role prior to being drafted, and he has the skating, the hands and the grit and jam to become a superb third-line forward. But he needs to work on his skating and he needs to translate some of his body's "bigness" into strength as he's very big but not necessarily very strong.

Long story short: He has some work to do, but he was drafted a little over two weeks ago. And he'll come to the prospect tournament and be allowed to lay into his opponents:

#86 Dominik Shine: Another player who got better as the camp went on, Shine displayed some very slick hands, but at 5'10" and at Mantha's 175 pounds...He's going to go to Northern Michigan University and try to fill out.

Long story short: Had an interesting week here. Probably won't be back.


#47 Alexei Marchenko: Skill set of a top-four, puck-rushing, hard-shooting, smart-passing, slick-skating defenseman? Check. Professional experience for the past two years with CSKA Moscow? Check. Serious-ass adjustments necessary to deal with the pace and dimensions of the North American game? Check. Has been training the "wrong way," building up his chest and arms instead of his core? Check.

Long story short: He's a professional player already. He will have some ups and downs and face some bumps in the road as he adjusts to North American pro hockey, and he'll get caught flat-footed and drive Jeff Blashill nuts at times as he's a bit of a gambler. But he's going to be worth the investment in terms of patience and patience with aggravation.

#77 Richard Nedomlel: From someone who was stumbling all over himself to someone who looks more than ready to turn pro as a stay-at-home defenseman with an understanding that keeping it simple and moving the puck to more talented partners is the way to go--after blocking shots and crashing and banging in order to snag the puck when his poke-check fails.

Honestly, he's one of the players I'm most excited about, and he's a #6 defenseman in-the-making. He's just grown so much both physically and especially mentally that he's a poster boy as to why these camps are held. They give players the tools with which to develop their bodies, brains and skill sets, and Richard's taken advantage of what he's learned. That's why he's about to turn pro with the Griffins.

Long story short: There is nothing to complain about when a rangy defenseman goes and makes something of himself, and Nedomlel is a very well-rounded stay-at-home defenseman who's going to have a lot of fun smearing people at the prospect tournament.

#48 Ryan Sproul: Sproul is ready to turn pro, plain and simple. He's an excellent skater, a great puck-lugging defenseman, his outlet passes are excellent, he's got both slick wrist and snap shots, he defends well without being physical, and when he wants to lay the body on someone, he can do that pretty damn easily.

Does he need to fill out? Yep. Is he going to have some hard times dealing with Frk-like adjustments in terms of dominating against kids versus playing against men? Yeah.

But his skill set is so elite that it intimidated some of the prospects this week, some of the more well-seasoned ones.

Long story short: Should be at the start of a superb pro career. Top-pair, not just top-four, potential.

#79 Ildar Telyakov: I'm still on the fence about Ildar, especially after seeing him stumble and fumble so regularly during Tomas Storm's drills today.

Take seven inches away from him. Say he's 6'2." . Reassess and he was by far the best defenseman of the free agent try-outs because, for the vast majority of the time, he was invisible when you want a defenseman to be invisible and he was visible as a solid skater, a solid hitter and a good playmaker on a consistent basis when his competitors faded in and out.

But do the Wings have a spot for him? And if that spot is in the ECHL, would Ildar take it?

I don't have that answer.

Long story short: I hope the Wings invite him back for the prospect tournament, and I hope he takes the invite. There's more to see here and it should involve game situations.

#28 Trevor Hamilton: As Nick Barnowski's profile noted, he's going to Miami of Ohio. He needs to go there to fill out and to develop into a stronger and more consistent defenseman.

Long story short: His Michigan ties may mean that he'll be invited back next year. If that's the case I look forward to seeing him again and to see whether he can continue to develop physically and in terms of his consistency. 


#68 Jake Paterson: I finally "got it." Paterson had a terrible day today, just terrible. When he was brought off of those impeccable angles, when he wasn't perfectly-positioned, and when a couple of bad goals piled up, he looked downright pedestrian after being practically silky-smooth in each and every aspect of his game save his skating in some of the goalie-specific drills. He got beat and he got beat regularly. Really regularly.

To some extent it was a relief to see that he had "holes." It was a good reminder that a remarkably talented young netminder well on track to earning a pro contract a year from now. He's also a 19-year-old who needs to display a dominant and consistent form during his final year of junior hockey, and he's also got some work to do.

Long story short: Mr. Nearly Perfect isn't, and that's okay. He's still a superb, superb goaltender with few or no holes the vast majority of the time.

#34 Andrew D'Agostini: D'Agostini was technically impeccable and worked his tail off. But he's maybe 5'10" and 170 pounds and is battling for a spot against Mrazek, Coreau and Paterson. It's not gonna happen.

Long story short: Someone else's "he beat the odds" story. Not Detroit's.

And, in limited participation, #31 Jared Coreau: Emphasis on limited for Coreau. The only time I saw him stop shots in competitive situations was Sunday, and he was excellent unless he was turned around. Today his skating remained almost disturbingly slick and efficient for someone that's 6'5," his technical game is superb and he's ready to turn pro. Where he takes his game is up to him. The fact that he's a very level-headed and hard-working young man speak to the positive.

Long story short: Let's see what he can do in a game, when he's fully healthy, and let's go from there. Technically speaking, he's superb, and he appears to be the real deal.

Team Lidstrom:


#72 Andreas Athanasiou: Athanasiou is an amazingly-talented natural athlete who skates like the wind, shoots hard, likes to slink his way through people and is both an excellent playmaker and a superb competitor. But he can be a one-trick pony at times, and he needs to be able to do more than plow his way through people toward the net and make slick plays. His defensive play ain't perfect by any means and he can be pushed around.

Long story short: Speed demon who has some "growing" to do in other areas of the game. He'll round himself out and will sign a deal with the Wings sometime during the 2013-2014 season, but he's still a player who's very much so in progress.

#81 Michael Babcock: Superbly speedy, superbly competitive, gritty, enthusiastic, fun to watch. Still 5'10" and 170. Will play in the USHL for 2 years, will head to Merrimack, and hopefully, somewhere along the way, he'll beat the odds and someone will look at his heart and grit and overlook the fact that he's never going to be anything other than an undersized grinder, because in his case, it's about the size of the fight in the dog.

Long story short: He's got room to grow, literally, but I'm not writing Michael off as a professional hockey player in the making--because of who he is and what kind of person he's been raised to be, not because of the name on the back of his jersey.

#59 Tyler Bertuzzi: Frustrating. Bertuzzi came to camp thinking that he could fight his way through it and he found out he was a marked man. From what I could tell, he was popular enough with his teammates, but he looked downright flummoxed at some times while working through the skill drills, and downright dim at others. I've never seen a player looking over his shoulder so much for reasons other than playmaking as Bertuzzi did over the past two days, and it did nothing to improve what really are pretty decent passing and shooting skills in addition to a really nice set of wheels given how skinny he still is.

Long story short: The hardest part of being an agitator is first learning how to not drive your teammates nuts, and then to learn how to do more than agitate. He's got both parts to figure out. The potential is there but it's up to him.

#85 Kurt Etchegary: He was injured and didn't play, and it's disappointing because Etchegary deserved to beat the bum rap of a bad medical report.

Long story short: In the words of Mike Babcock, "I didn't see him."

#21 Luke Glendening: Glendening was going at 2/3rds speed throughout camp, and today was no exception, but it was understandable. And in every drill that involved out-competing his opponents, he sure as hell out-competed them by blocks and sometimes miles. He's a wonderful grinding forward with excellent wheels and a surprisingly deft touch around the net.

Long story short: Ready to have a strong sophomore season with the Griffins. Should grind his way up the depth chart and into a couple of NHL games this season.

#84 Barclay Goodrow: He only started to play like a 6'2," 214-pound, physical winger at the end, and he only began to show flashes of a power forward's game at the end. It took him a LONG time to find his comfort zone given that the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau reported that he'd three other teams' development camps.

Long story short: Maybe he'll catch on somewhere else. From what I saw of him, he wasn't good enough to merit much in the way of enthusiasm.

#82 Mattias Janmark-Nylen: An elite playmaker who has a long way to go in other aspects of his game and adjusting to the North American game's rink size and pace of play, the 20-year-old pro from Sweden was sometimes spectacular and sometimes surprisingly raw. He really hit his stride as a rookie in the Swedish Eliteserien last season, but he seemed to tire as this development camp went on, and I wasn't completely surprised. He's still a hell of a player in the making, but he has a ways to go.

Long story short: Elite playmaker. Not an elite player. Yet.

#60 Marek Tvrdon: Again, he's got sniper's hands and a power forward's body, with big wide shoulders and a willingness to bulldoze his way to the net, but he's barely played over the past two seasons and he's barely trained properly. He's a very unfinished project.

Long story short: Could he be a successful Tomas Kopecky? Sure, but he's got to play in some games first.

#70 Jamien Yakubowski: Maybe the fact that he's been described as an instigator explains why he was something of a no-show. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough. But I just didn't see much he was long on other than a nameplate.

Long story short: His upside eludes me.

#87 Dane Walters: Gritty as hell, mature inside and out, hard, hard-working and blue-collar in terms of his work ethic, Dane is GOING to become a professional hockey player and he is GOING to be someone's pain in the ass. I don't know if the Wings have room for him, but he's at least an AHL'er at present.

Long story short: Another smallish grinder. This one with a big brain and all sorts of gumption. I hope he catches on somewhere.


#75 James De Haas: Possibly the poster boy for, "Dominating against boys does not mean that you are ready to play against men. De Haas this massive 6'2," 210-pound behemoth of a man who can be nothing less than a scary puck-lugging defenseman with solid speed, a hard shot and good passing skills, and he has a physical bent, too...But man, for somebody who's played in the BCHL for the past two seasons, does he need to go to Clarkson and start having to battle people who are bigger and stronger than he is.

Long story short: Maybe four years from now, he's an elite prospect, because he sure has the skills. But he's got to be more than beefy to compete.

#71 Alex Gudbranson: He and Dane Walters ended up standing out the most from the free agent crop that wasn't Russian and 6'9." Big, tough, meat-and-potatoes defenseman ready to turn pro somewhere, a right-shooter with a hard shot and good defensive skills, solid skating and good maturity. But he's not going to find a spot here.

Long story short: Somebody else's, "He's the brother of Erik Gudbranson, and we like him" prospect.

#61 Xavier Ouellet: Mr. Smooth is indeed invisible in all of the best ways, his low center of gravity yields a surprising physical bite and he is a puck-mover of the first order. Everything that Sproul does with gusto, Ouellet does almost so seamlessly that you don't realize he's doing it. He's just as exciting a prospect and just as ready to--and needing of--take advantage of the opportunity to play against men.

Long story short: Ouellet won't wow you, but he's a "wowzers" defensive prospect. Top-pair potential and he's as cool as a cucumber to boot.

#3 Nick Jensen: Will see a shoulder specialist after fighting Bertuzzi. Needs to play games. Is a fine young man and should be a good puck-rushing defenseman.

Long story short: It sucks to be on the other end of someone else's stupidity.

#74 Marc McNulty: Gigantic. Underpowered as underpowered can be. And what wheels. He's 6'5" and he glides up and down the ice like he's 5'9," his passing is good and his shot is relatively hard given his lack of bulk, and his positioning is solid.

Long story short: All of two weeks from being drafted, when you see a young offensive defenseman with the kind of skating ability that McNulty has, you feel pretty good about the state of the team's Western Canadian scouts under Jeff Finley.

Taking part in the off-ice activities: Mitchell Wheaton: Really wanted to see the big Kelowna Rockets defenseman play. Saw him eating bagels instead. Injuries do indeed suck.


#38Toni Eskelinen: I rather desperately wish I could put him in a category not involving, "He's Athanasiou without much of a trick," but the Finnish Butterfly Crab-style goalie never overcame the very visible cracks in his technique or the visible holes in his game.

Long story short: He wasn't very good.

#34 Jake Patterson: I wish I could end an entry I've been working on for the past five hours on a positive note, but Paterson plays much smaller than his listed 6'1," 191-pound-listed size, and while he can do a pretty good impersonation of Jimmy Howard, his glove's too high, his blocker's too low, and he twists his pads away from play when trying to make glove saves, like old-fashioned stand-up goalies used to do, and that yields glove-side goals against. He didn't get worse as the week went on, but he didn't get better.

Long story short: Two T's has one more year of junior eligibility. He needs to make the most of it.

It's been an exhausting week here in Traverse City, but it's been a privilege. If you want me to do more regarding these prospects, please let me know, but in the interim, I need to collapse for a little while, and I hope that I gave you your money's worth in terms of coverage.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


SYF's avatar

Yet another keeper for my drills folder, George.  Love it.  Love it love it love it.

I liked this one: Weidenbach had some players remain at the side boards along each goal line, and some players line up in a “repository” at center ice. A skater would chug up from the red line to center ice, skate around this “repository,” then take a pass at the left or right blueline from one of the “repository,” turn and shoot on net. The emphasis involved making a big circle around the repository with as few crossovers as possible, leaning into turns and pushing off with one’s outside-facing foot instead;

I think I just heard my ankles creak.  That’s one serious drill.

#48 Ryan Sproul: Sproul is ready to turn pro, plain and simple. He’s an excellent skater, a great puck-lugging defenseman, his outlet passes are excellent, he’s got both slick wrist and snap shots, he defends well without being physical, and when he wants to lay the body on someone, he can do that pretty damn easily.

Does he need to fill out? Yep. Is he going to have some hard times dealing with Frk-like adjustments in terms of dominating against kids versus playing against men? Yeah.

But his skill set is so elite that it intimidated some of the prospects this week, some of the more well-seasoned ones.

Long story short: Should be at the start of a superb pro career. Top-pair, not just top-four, potential.

I drool.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 07/15/13 at 06:49 PM ET


Thanks so much for your work in TC.  It was superb.  You must be exhausted.  I am so happy I was able to defer a little of the cost of your trip.  I hope next year, more of your readers do the same.

Posted by beertowndale on 07/15/13 at 08:07 PM ET

thenumber19's avatar

George, what’s this about Mantha weighing 175 lbs? Didn’t he just weigh in closer to 195 at the combine?


Don’t make stuff up man, you’re alright otherwise.

Posted by thenumber19 from ND on 07/15/13 at 09:56 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The first rule of writing about a subject is to not make shit up. The kid *looks* like he’s about 175 to me. I am not trying to suggest that he is some stick figure, but he’s got a lot of growing out to do.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/15/13 at 10:31 PM ET

Primis's avatar

One thing to remember about Dean Chelios starting camp slow:  he has not played or probably scrimmaged/practiced in a year.  He missed the entire 2012-13 MSU season.  If you’re wondering why he was spotty, that might just be him having to try harder than the others to find his legs and game.  I think he and Jake both probably will find minor pro gigs somewhere though at least.  ECHL or CHL.

RE: Mantha… the listed heights and weights very often lie.  I wouldn’t be surprised if listed 190lbs is actually more like 180.  Didn’t it say above in the blurb about Babcock Jr. that he was listed at 170lbs but is more like 150?  This happens all the time in every sport.

Posted by Primis on 07/15/13 at 11:41 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m doing my best to estimate what they look like at present. I’m no guess-your-weight expert but I’m decent at it in hockey terms.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/15/13 at 11:47 PM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

Tack sa mycket george..You have done an awesome job !!! ..Have a safe trip home !!

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 07/16/13 at 04:35 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.