The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/13/13 at 01:45 AM ET
In front of jam-packed stands and a suite overflowing with Red Wings amateur scouts, the Wings' coach, the Grand Rapids Griffins' coach, and Ken Holland, Kris Draper, Ryan Martin and Jiri Fischer, the Wings' prospects finally got to tangle with each other in a game situation.
It wasn't exactly three periods' worth of hockey--two 30-minute periods, with a running-down clock for the first "half," and the players taking part in "power play" and "penalty-killing" situations for 4-minute stretches during the first minute of the second half. There was one penalty--a high sticking call against Zach Nastasiuk--which resulted in a penalty shot(!) Xavier Ouellet was unable to convert upon (against Jake Paterson), and Tyler Bertuzzi was rocked by Martin Frk and Ferris State University defenseman Jason Binkley, who, alongside Simon Denis, were brought in to--wait for it--Nick Jensen.
The "stories" of the night involved the performances of three soon-to-be Grand Rapids Griffins in Ryan Sproul, Martin Frk and Richard Nedomlel, as well as a player well on his way to earning a pro contract in goalie Jake Paterson and someone who had a bit of a, "I can indeed play in a game and do more than score goals" chip on his shoulder in first-round draft pick Anthony Mantha...
But each and every player displayed something those of us in attendance hadn't seen during the "getting-to-know-you" skate on Wednesday or the two-a-day drills on Thursday.
Again, all of the following content, both in terms of my work and those of the other folks covering the camp, has to come with a disclaimer: we're talking about a development camp taking place in July, largely involving players who haven't played professional hockey (with a few exceptions), and...
As Griffins coach Jeff Blashill suggested regarding the development of Danny DeKeyser after DeKeyser spent his freshman year at Western Michigan skating for Blashill's team, player development is not an exact science--DeKeyser's blossoming into a top prospect and superbly solid young professional hockey player surprised the hell out of him...
And the best way I'd put it is this: players' bodies, brains and hockey skill sets all develop at different rates, their playing opportunities don't necessarily reflect their levels of play or whether they "deserve" ice time, and injuries happen.
The Wings' goal for this week involves exposing players to as much information as possible, regarding training, nutrition, rest and recovery, the systems of play those attending hte prospect tournament will be expected to know how to execute and keep up with, an emphasis on self-improvement via work with skill development coach Tomas Storm, power skating coach Andy Weidenbach, for the goalies, goalie coach Jim Bedard, and a host of on-ice mentors in Chris Chelios, Tomas Holmstrom, Griffins coach Blashill, assistant coaches Spiros Anastas and Jim Paek, Toledo Walleye assistant coach Dan Watson, Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick, and of course someone who's going to take a very hands-on role in their mentorship in director of player development Jiri Fischer.
Add all of that together, and you've got tons of information, lots of on-ice learning and a bunch of people to turn to for help...
But it's just not fair to the players, never mind realistic, to predict that, "Martin Frk will score 25 goals when promoted to the Red Wings for the 2015-2016 season and 28, 39 and then eight billion goals over the next three seasons," or to suggest exactly when a player will make the NHL and/or contribute at the ECHL, AHL or NHL level.
To a large extent it's up to the players, and to some extent it's up to good fortune.
In terms of the narrative of tonight's game--and I should note that I've been calling the teams "Team Yzerman" and "Team Lidstrom" based upon the Left Wing Lock's roster, not the inverted roster that was handed to the media (whether we're talking about participants--see: listed try-out Kurt Etchegary just showing up to the development camp today with a cheek swollen enough to fit a tennis ball, the schedule, or the "teams," information changed repeatedly right up to the day camp began).
So they're going to tell you that the "red" team, which I've been referring to as "Team Yzerman" and some have been referring to as "Team Lidstrom" lost 7-1 despite out-shooting the "white" team 24-18.
Here's MLive's Brendan Savage's recap...
Frk had enough gas left in the tank Friday to score two goals and assist on two others as the White team routed the Red 7-1 in the only scrimmage of the Development Camp.
"I know I was tired after the first half," said Frk, 19. "You have to work in the summer more and get better. I had maybe 2½ weeks off and I was already working out again. But I know I have to get in better shape. I get on the ice and I was tired right away. I'm not as far (along) as I should be. I can feel my legs don't go that fast. When we do something long, I get tired right away."
The scrimmage was played in two 30-minute halves. Frk scored twice to help the White take a 4-0 lead at the intermission and then picked up two assists in the second half.
"It's a lot of fun," Frk said. "For me, I'm happy to be here and play a scrimmage game."
Anthony Mantha, the Red Wings' first-round pick (20th overall) this year, also scored twice and Ryan Sproul, the reigning OHL defenseman of the year who was a second-round pick (55th overall) in 2011, had two assists.
"Frk is really crafty," said Chris Chelios, the newly elected Hall of Famer who coached the White along with former teammate Tomas Holmstrom. "Great with the puck, can skate, finishes. Mantha, he's a kid that got drafted pretty high. They've got great hands and skill. It was kind of a lop-sided affair. But those key guys, our first two picks, I was impressed by them."
Holmstrom, Chelios and McKittrick coached the white team; Anastas and Paek coached the red team.
I'm not sure how he did it, but Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski both took oodles of photos from the game...
Helm and Jared Coreau very quietly took part in about 40 minutes' worth of work while the first "half" took place.
Nastasiuk rode shotgun with Mantha and Frk, and he was very good at it. I'm not sure why Dean Chelios played for him during the second half, but Chelios was good, too.
As Barnowski notes, Frk was really, really good, as was Mantha...
“I thought Frk was really good. He’s a guy who knows how to find the net, he knows how to get open. He’s a guy who has great offensive instincts, he likes to score, I think he’s got a chance to be a real good player.”
Frk’s first came on a wraparound, while his second was assisted by Sproul. In between his two goals, David Pope shot one past Eskelinen after stealing the puck at the blue line.
Less than 30 seconds into the second period, the white team struck again, this time by Richard Nedomlel from the point, assisted by Frk.
Frk showed his dominance by earning his second assist of the night on Mantha’s first of two goals, finding this year’s first-round draft pick alone in the slot for a one-timer.
Most of the play in the second period was in Team Yzerman’s own end, but Team Lidstrom, in red jerseys, could only convert once. Alex Gudbranson scored the team’s lone goal with less than five minutes to play on a rebound that found it’s way into the slot. Andreas Anthanasiou and Marek Tvrdon assisted. Mantha added his second goal with 1.5 seconds remaining, which was assisted by Michigan State Spartan Dean Chelios.
“Chelios made a great play at the end, it was just a little tap in,” Mantha said. “And the first one I don’t even remember so that’s how it counts to me. I was really focusing on my battles and my compete level.”
But coach Blashill wisely pointed out that the scrimmage was not the be-all-end-all assessment of who goes where or whose potential will fulfill itself:
“For me, it’s a starting point for some of the players and it gives me a look at some of the players that are probably going to go into Grand Rapids and have a chance to play so it’s a worthwhile activity. These are all guys who have a ton of ability and the chance to be good so we need to give them feedback so they can reach their highest potential. This was another step in that process.”
It's a significant step, a very significant one, but this whole week represents steps in the process of player development.
Tyler Wright's new job with the Wings involves finding the next Manthas. This week is about the second part of that equation--development--and the Wings can only do so much in that department, but they've gotten it down to as close to a science as it can get.
The Red Wings also posted a photo gallery of sorts, and a Twitter round-up as well:
"I definitely want to work on my offensive game, but I know that isn’t going to happen over night,” Nastisiuk said. “As fun as it is to score goals, I take pride in my defensive game. If you want to play at the next level you need to have a 200 foot game and my defensive game is a good start.”
Nastisiuk is one of those players who brings more to the ice than offense, which is why many scouts were raving about his potential leading up to the 2013 draft. The Barrie, Ontario native is always looking for ways to improve and so it wasn’t a surprise when spoke to his coach, Greg Ireland, last season about how he could become more of an impact player.
“My season in Owen Sound went pretty well,” he said. “For me personally, I started off more as a role player but as the second half came up I talked to my coach. After that I really elevated my game and it helped me climb the ladder on the draft rankings.”
With the draft behind him, Nastisiuk is preparing for another OHL season and his first NHL training camp. His participation in development camp this past week has given him an understanding of what that will be like and how he needs to prepare.
“I am working and training really hard this summer because I want to prove myself to Detroit and be ready for another year in Owen Sound,” he said. “A big area of focus for me is my skating. Everyone has been on me about improving it and I totally agree. It’s going to take time but I am going to keep going and get better so that I can take my game to the next level.”
My best work from the evening probably won't be written down. I'm very proud of the fact that my interviews with Andreas Athanasiou and Dane Walters became conversations, because those are the best kinds of interviews. I also spoke with Frk, Sproul, coach Blashill, I tried to speak with Jake Patterson (with two t's) and myself and Art Regner may have asked Mattias Janmark-Nylen enough questions about being Swedish to piss off an American
In any case, I've been going with player evaluations, and I'm going to stick with that format as even a morning off hasn't decreased the bleary-eyed-ness with which I'm writing this entry.
Let's start with the guys who didn't do so well:
#72 Andreas Athanasiou: I'm willing to suggest that it is highly, highly likely that the Wings will sign Andreas Athanasiou to a contract before his rights expire next June because of his athleticism and his attitude. Athanasiou was not terribly successful at generating offense on Friday evening, but it wasn't for a lack of trying, and it wasn't for a lack of charging up the middle of the ice like a bullet shot out of a machine gun, becaues he absoultely flies, and he can both glide on his skates and plow through people. His hands are pretty darn good, too, slithering passes toward teammates, shooting hard and high and grinding the puck out in corners, but it's the fact that so many of his attempts to generate offense involve skating through people instead of around them that's exciting.
And as he said after the game, he really believes in himself, and has something of a chip on his shoulder about proving those who thought that he wasn't good enough with the London Knights or had too much ice time with Belleville wrong. He is cocky but he's cocky without being arrogant.
Long story short: Mediocre evening. Promising offensively-minded center with a boatload of natural skating ability and oodles of leg strength.
#81 Michael Babcock: Babcock's been able to keep up with and sometimes surprise during the skill development sessions and systems play drills, but the scrimmage was an eye-opener as to why he's just been traded from the USHL's Cedar Rapids Roughriders to the Fargo Force, and why he's got a scholarship to play hockey for Merrimack. The tiny teenager who laughed his way through falling down so many times last summer has been replaced with a man who is on the ice what his father is off the ice--relentless.
He's still a smallish young man and he's still facing long odds as an undersized grinder, but my goodness, does he ever want to go into the corners or grind his way toward the net against much bigger and much theoretically stronger opponents, and he comes up with the puck enough times to make you understand that Babcockian competitiveness is both genetic and, given Babcock's physical maturation to go along with his easygoing but hard-working demeanor, something embraced.
Long story short: He's just at the start of a five-year development curve, but he's ready to climb it.
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi: Pieces pieces all around. True of what happened when Bertuzzi's glove, helmet and body went flying in different directions when Martin Frk smoked him, and true of his game. Is he more than just an instigator? Yes, because the Wings don't draft untalented players who can be really good at pissing people off. He skates well and he skates hard, his shot's good and he comes around and off the boards with speed. When his head's up, he can do more than hit people--he can pass decently, too.
But the pieces of a solid all-round game from a speedy-enough instigator don't always come together when he's on the ice, and his preoccupation with pissing people off takes away from the development of the rest of his game.
Long story short: Lots of potential in a still-developing body and a brain that's got a ways to go in terms of maturity. He could indeed develop into an Andrew Shaw-type player. But Friday, I learned that he didn't see Frk coming, and that speaks to where his head's at. Or where it was before he got knocked into next week.
#85 Kurt Etchegary: Appeared with a swollen right cheek today, off the ice. It's so hard to figure out what he's "worth" that it's nuts.
Long story short: Erm, uh.
#21 Luke Glendening: Glendening has been understandably mailing it in during skill drills and systems play. It's in game situations that you see that he's got the heart of a lion and that his lack of size does not deter from a checking forward who loves being a checking forward that will out-compete and out-grind and out-battle his opponents. He's not going to develop into a scorer, he's not going to develop into a playmaker, and he's not going to beat the snot out of people, but he's gonna grind on them and he's going to take care of business in his own zone, and he's going to show flourishes of offensive ability as well.
Long story short: He may not have anything to prove for the first time in a long time, but he's still got a surprise or two in his grinder's toolbox.
#84 Barclay Goodrow: Goodrow made a solid impression during the game. Playing with Brody Silk and Dane Walters eventually evolved into some shifts with Athanasiou, and his 6'2" frame was able to keep up and able to issue some physical impact. But there was no finishing ability there.
Long story short: Still a free agent try-out that's occasionally bobbing above the surface. His point totals suggest that he's got more to give.
#82 Mattias Janmark-Nylen: Speaking of swimming, Janmark-Nylen was very evidently out of his element skating on an 85-foot-wide rink with players accustomed to the North American pace of hockey. He readily admitted that he felt lost sometimes. Especially as a self-named playmaking center, he had trouble finding time and space to get things done, and that was surprising given that he's a 20-year-old who played for AIK in the Swedish Eliteserien.
That being said, his head's up, he was working very hard to adjust, and he wasn't intimidated by the checks being thrown or the fact that his entire team was having an "off" night. The skill was there, the will was there, he got better as the game went on and he's nothing less than a superbly-talented two-way center with great passing skills, a sneaky shot and a tendency to skate up the wing and find people in better positions to score than himself.
Long story short: Not his best appearance, but that's why they have development camps in July. He'll learn from the experience and become a better player, and he's already a damn good player.
#60 Marek Tvrdon: SIGH. If Bertuzzi is someone with tools but no toolbox, Marek Tvrdon is several thousand dollars' worth of a master mechanic's tools having fallen out of the back of a pickup truck.
Big forward, broad shoulders, sneaky Slovak Power Forward Factory hands, an enjoyment of the physical game, sniper's instincts and a sneaky hard shot, but he's barely played over the past two seasons due to a messed-up shoulder then a blood clot that required removing a frickin' rib, and while he's been back in Slovakia, he's been engaging in European-style training, where you build the hell out of your upper body to look like a manly man and you ignore those core muscles that make a hockey player go. Marek can tumble, go down and fall boom pretty regularly. Marek can then top-shelf a shot, and then fade into the woodwork for another fifteen shifts.
Long story short: Oodles of ability to become the player the Wings hoped Tomas Kopecky would be in a 20-goal-scoring, physical forward. But so little experience that his first pro season with the Grand Rapids Griffins is going to be much bumpier than that of Tomas Jurco.
#70 Jamien Yakubowski: He was fast, he hit hard, he was surprisingly solid. But his name can often be the most exciting part of his game, and he hasn't stood out enough to impress me at least. I hope there's some subtlety that I don't see apparent to the Wings.
Long story short: again, kind of bobbing up and down along the way like other free agent try-outs.
#87 Dane Walters: He's someone you root for, this square-jawed, intense-looking, right-shooting college graduate with 3 AHL games to his credit that is gritty as hell. He was downright mean during the game and that was exciting to see even before I interviewed him. But I worry that that interview made me see things that weren't there.
Long story short: He's a man, not a kid, and he's a gritty grinding forward who does indeed like to go to the front of the net. Is he pro material for Detroit? I don't know. Is he going to find a way to grind out a living as a pro somewhere? I sure hope so.
#75 James De Haas: De Haas was nearly as good as Ouellet and Marchenko, and that's saying something. Even as he continues to grow in his body and prepares to embark upon his collegiate career, he's 6'2," he's over 200 pounds, he can lug the puck up ice, he's a great passer with a superb playmaking eye, his shot is hard, he's not overly physical but he gets the job done, and mostly he's calm, very, very calm, under pressure. He's far from a finished product, but when a big man goes into a game situation out of the BCHL--a "Junior A" league--and looks like he belongs, that's exciting.
Long story short: Has a long way to go, but has the tools, the toolbox and the patience to get stuff done as a big offensive defenseman.
#71 Alex Gudbranson: He scored the red team's only goal and he had a really hard shot. He looked solid out there. But my viewings of him have been limited and this was the first time he looked like a heady puck-mover. I was pleasantly surprised that he stood out on a deep team defensively. But that's one viewing for ya.
Long story short: Still something of a puzzle to me, but hey, a good game is a good game.
#61 Xavier Ouellet: Smooth as smooth can be. Ouellet made some boo boos, but when he's good, you don't notice him, and when he's really good, you start noticing his ability to lug the puck up ice, to make what seem like seamless passes to forwards, to pluck pucks off opponents' sticks, and you see him skating up ice with a step you swear he didn't have. For one night, Alexei Marchenko switched sides, and Marchenko and Ouellet were a fantastic pair. They were the ones who got stuff done and were leaned upon most heavily for the red team, and they did not disappoint, with Ouellet not needing to skitter back to help himself out.
Long story short: He's slick and he's polished and he's a really savvy offensive defenseman, and when he turns his hips, people lose pucks and fall down. He'll be fun to watch in Grand Rapids.
#3 Nick Jensen: Didn't play, had ice on his shoulder but didn't look like he was in nearly as much pain as he was on Thursday. That's progress.
Long story short: You'll see him either in Grand Rapids or in Toledo this fall, and you'll see him at the prospect tournament, too. Hope he's healthy then, because he's a puck-lugger with skating speed to spare.
Appearing for one night only with the red team, #47 Alexei Marchenko: Marchenko, like Janmark-Nylen, has professional experience, so it was worrisome to see him have to haul ass back down the ice to cover up for poorly-timed or poorly-determined pinches. He made big mistakes at times and he had to have Ouellet help him out. But he is strong--physical without being mean--he's got a really hard shot and he's a passer who looked excellent with someone who seems to have eyes everywhere in Ouellet. And when he messed up, he tended to hustle back with his head down as much as his head was up when the puck was on his stick.
Long story short: He's going to have some hiccups adapting to the North American-sized rink and pace of play, but he is a very classically "Russian" offensive defenseman who is very determined to play a top-four role.
#74 Marc McNulty: McNulty, a gigantic 6'6" but a tremendously underpowered defenseman, surprised the hell out of everyone when he was tasked with going to the front of the net and staying there during the "red" team's power play--and he was good at what he did! I could see flashes of why the Wings drafted him in excellent skating for a big man, a really nice passing ability and a good shot, but he made a ton of mistakes and some of them ended up in the back of his net. He's just so very rail-thin that Martin Frk plucked a puck off his stick like it was laying on the ice.
Long story short: Loads of potential. A little under two weeks from being drafted, and just as skinny as he is tall.
#38 Toni Eskelinen: This was not the night to have a "bad game," and Eskelinen may be a classic Finnish-style butterfly goaltender, but he had a bad game on top of his defense playing crappily. Shots snuck through his glove and blocker, shots got through his legs when he "crabbed" on the ice (that's what a Finnish butterfly goalie looks like, an angry crap, with his blocker and glove up and his legs splayed apart in a butterfly with a bit of a five-hole). He may or may not have been having trouble with the pace of play and the size of the rink as well--and geometry is huge if you're a goalie--but he did himself no favors.
Long story short: Rough night.
#34 Jake Patterson: Another rough night, despite the fact that he really does look like a skinny Jimmy Howard. He's also a leaky Jimmy Howard, regrettably, someone who can be beaten to the post as often as his quick toes get out there, beaten over the high-held glove, and mostly deked and dangled out of position like Howard used to be when he was very young.
The difference between Patterson and Howard is that Patterson is an incredibly skinny goalie who plays smaller than his listed 6'1," 190-pound size, and he still looks like he's swimming in his pads.
Long story short: Rough night, part 2.
#43 Darren Helm: Did not play. Skated a bit with Jared Coreau and the goalie coach whose name I do not yet know in the other rink. Seemed to be in good spirits.
#67 Rasmus Bodin: Bodin came in from the wilderness a bit, and people got to see that for the first time in a game. Bodin is still very raw and he is still very streaky, but when he puts his mind to skating hard and competing hard, he can push, shove and otherwise out-muscle his opponents and use his size to his advantage to a significant degree, and on top of that, he's a solid passer. He's still got power forward potential and he looked like he was having no problems whatsoever with the pace, the rink size or the physicality with which he was presented. He had a good game and a good time.
Long story short: Ramus may be somebody yet.
#80 Dean Chelios: I still have to shake my head about his pro potential, but on Friday, anyway, Dean Chelios was instrumental in the second half's worth of Frk and Mantha magic. He was speedy, strong, smart and got the puck to people who needed it, often in traffic and under pressure. He had a great night and I'm happy for him.
Long story short: Still an NCAA player as opposed to someone with lots of pro potential. But he sure impressed the hell out of me at least.
#42 Martin Frk: Frk had a wonderful, wonderful night, and I think he really needed to prove that he could score without Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon feeding him passes for one-timers and empty-netters.
So he one-timed a shot and he got credit for an empty-net goal that may or may not have been Chelios's, and he also roared up in past McNulty and roofed a gorgeous shot, and he was slick as could be during the shootout portion as well. He's a power forward who is mentally and physically exhausted from a very long season and playoff run, but his hunched-over skating style works, he can make things happen on his own, and he beat the hell out of Tyler Bertuzzi with one hit.
Long story short: Craptons of ability, determination and will in a power power forward's package. Possibly one of the most exciting prospects the Wings have had in a long time. But he's coming out of dominating major junior, and one fantastic night doesn't indicate how he's going to fare against men.
#63 Phillipe Hudon: Hudon had a good game, too. He wasn't overly visible but he crashed, banged and eventually found himself playing with Nastasiuk, bumping, grinding, plowing and otherwise positing his shoulders, hips and elbows into his opponents, all while moving the puck out of his own zone.
Long story short: He's still not overly big and not overly offensively talented. But he's getting better and better, as they say. Whether that means he'll become a pro player, I don't know, but he's sure working his tail off.
#64 David Pope Again, you don't see Pope, you don't notice Pope, and suddenly he's firing these cannonading shots through traffic and at goalies at high speed. You see this big, lanky kid going up ice with the puck, you see him lose it, and you think he's out of the play, and all of a sudden, the puck's on his stick again and a slinky wrist shot's hit the glass behind the net.
And then one went in. It was a gorgeous top-shelf sniper job from in tight, and he just roared in and chipped the puck high.
Long story short: 6'2," 180 pounds, played in a "Junior A" league, and the Wings drafted him because he can shoot--and he can SHOOT. And with a four years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha ahead of him, he can do more than a little filling out in the physical department and the all-round game department.
#76 Ty Loney: He's got a solid shot and he's very good in the neutral zone. And that's all I've got.
Long story short: Yet another free agent bobbing along with the current.
#73 Brody Silk: He plays hard. He plays very, very hard. He hit people. He mucked and ground. But that was about it.
Long story short: He had a good night. I don't know what that portends..
#39 Anthony Mantha: Anthony needed to prove that he is more than a flash in the pan, and despite the fact that he may be the first 6'4," 160-pound person I've seen, the young man who occasionally seems like he's swimming in his equipment more than Patterson does scored a pair of gorgeous goals, going top shelf and plowing his way to the net. He takes one-time passes well, he's got a good slap shot, he can hold his own through traffic and he's a very good skater given his size and lack of strength, as it were. He had a great night, but after really tiring on the second day and looking like he was out of his element during some of the skill drills, he came back with a vengeance and then some.
Long story short: The Wings don't have to sign him for two years and they probably won't sign him for two years. But my goodness, if he can show the engagement he did on a night when the Wings' coaches and management wanted to see someone who is sometimes disengaged from the game play like his ass depended on it, he played like his ass was on the line.
#62 Zach Nastasiuk: Great first half of the game with Mantha and Frk, not so great second half of the game offensively, but he is someone who embraces being a grinding forward and there is more skill to his game than has been let on. He wasn't overly physical but still found a way to bump and roll and dump and chase and retrieve pucks and find more-skilled linemates and come back to help out his defense.
Long story short: the Wings have a grinder who wants to be one of those players who can be depended upon to play 8-12 minutes of mistake-free hockey on the third or fourth line, and he wants to do this at 18. That's awesome.
#86 Dominik Shine: I wish his name described his play, but on a night that almost all of his teammates were excellent, he faded into the woodwork.
Long story short: Bobbing along. Barely.
#77 Richard Nedomlel: Again, given that he was stumbling over himself two years ago, it's wonderful to see Richard play alongside Sproul and to completely keep up with his defensive partner, in terms of his skating, his passing, his shooting and his commitment to taking care of his own end with his size, physicality and stick (he and Marchenko are excellent stick-checkers). He's going to be a simple stay-at-home defenseman, but on Friday, he was a simple, physical stay-at-home defenseman who did not look out of place on the #1 pairing, alongside someone who was absolutely dominant.
Long story short: Great game from someone who needs to show that he can be counted upon to deliver at the AHL level. He's come so very far over the past two years that it's scary, and while he's never going to be a star by any stretch of the imagination, people who put in the work and get results earn their spots as well as their praise.
#48 Ryan Sproul: Fantastic night for Sproul. He was just masterful at lugging the puck up ice himself to make things happen, ripping hard shots at the net, finding forwards or Nedomlel with tape-to-tape passes and playing hard, physical hockey in his own zone, breaking up plays and playing with a level of execution that was downright intimidating. He looked like someone who's on top of his game, and he didn't even have to work that hard to do so--but he still worked very hard, and it paid off with a wonderful night in front of some very eager eyes.
Long story short: Top pair potential? Yes. Very poor man's Pronger or Weber? Who knows. But there is much promise, there is much determination, there's a whole lot of skill as a puck-rusher as well as a puck-mover and he's got some filling out to do as he prepares to play against men, but he's not letting any of his success go to his head, and that's going to be hard after Friday.
#79 Ildar Telyakov: He surprised me. Ildar was good. He was really good. He wasn't particularly outstanding in any aspect of the game, but at 6'9" and having played in Russia, I expected him to look clumsy, out of place or otherwise ungainly, and he just quietly got the job done. He is not a remarkable defenseman in any regard but when you are that big and that inexperienced and you are keeping your shit together at 22, that's very good to see.
Long story short: The Wings are stacked and stocked on defense, and it's not fair to throw out the Chara comparisons even Telyakov wants to suggest. But he's been smooth and defensemen who has little other than a season at the VHL (the Russian AHL) level to his credit keeping up on a smaller rink is at least promising.
#28 Trevor Hamilton: Hamilton kept up with Telyakov, which is good. Hamilton did not impress otherwise, which isn't so good. Heavy hitter.
Long story short: I wish I knew more but I don't.
#18 Jason Binkley and #26 Simon Denis: The gents looked like they were thrown into the mix after Blashill called in a favor, and at 5'9" and 5'10" respectively, they were not overly big, but they came into the game willing to show that they were worth calling, and Binkley nearly took Bertuzzi's foot off with either a hit or a shot that sent Bertuzzi stumbling to the bench...And in their own way, the pair was seamless. They were the #2 pair, not Telyakov and Hamilton, and they didn't look out of place at all.
Long story short: One excellent night from two smallish defensemen? Beats me.
#68 Jake Paterson: Paterson stopped all the shots he should have stopped and some he shouldn't have stopped, all while looking smooth, composed and calm. He's very polished as a true "hybrid" style netminder who can come out and challenge shooters or rely on his reflexes to make saves, but his positioning is just excellent, he didn't bat an eyelash when McNulty was camped out on top of him, and he came out and played the puck and didn't get into any trouble. He was excellent in the shootout as well, and that was good to see.
Long story short: On the fast track to being signed to a pro contract next year, and hoping to make the Canadian World Junior team after attending the Canadian World Junior Evaluation camp at the end of this month. It's up to him to be as consistent with the Saginaw Spirit as he's been up here in Traverse City.
#34 Andrew D'Agostini: Despite being very undersized and very small for a goalie at 5'10" and maybe 170 pounds, he was really good, too. He makes the most of his equipment and he makes the most of his blocking ability. I still don't think that he's got a chance in hell of being signed, but he may impress eyes somewhere else. The shooters kept going low right toe or blocker side on him during the shootout and he didn't bite. What he did do, however, was chip the puck into trouble, and that was a problem.
Long story short: Small goalie. Very very solid small goalie.
And, in limited participation, #31 Jared Coreau: Didn't play. Looks ridiculously big, and when I see him doing drills, ridiculously smooth for his size.
If you've come this far, you deserve some highlights, and the 9&10 News provides them (plus post-game quips from Mantha and Blashill):
Ditto for the 7&4 News's Harrison Beeby:
- The St. Louis Blues named Ty Conklin their goaltending development coach;
- The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren says that re-signed Ottawa Senators forward Erik Condra was willing to lend Daniel Alfredsson his condo in Metro Detroit;
And the Wings' prospects will spend the day in Camp Grayling. I got home at 9:30 and it's 2:42 AM. I am going to sleep, going to go grocery shopping to get more pop, granola bars and yogurt, and otherwise, I hope that Saturday is quiet, because I need to be quiet--as I'll be going to bed early ahead of 7:30-5 day at the rink on Sunday and a 7:30-2 day at the rink on Monday to wrap things up.
I would like to see this city at some point, to really relax and enjoy myself away from the rink. But between my way being paid by you and my fun fun fun anxiety disorder, this is how I seem to roll.
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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.