The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/08/11 at 04:08 PM ET
Between serious-ass internet troubles and the Wings’ slow but sure revealing of their Mike Babcock’s assistant coaches, this morning’s first full on-ice session at the Red Wings’ summer development camp involved observations made by a somewhat distracted blogger, but I can at least offer several impressions from the morning’s activities.
Once again, here are the rosters of the teams taking part in the camp…
38 Thomas McCollum
66 Tyson Teichmann*
2 Brendan Smith
32 Adam Almquist
64 Danny Dekeyser*
42 Max Nicastro
15 Richard Nedomlel
62 Ryan Sproul
3 Brad Walch*
47 Brent Raedeke
14 Gustav Nyquist
60 Trevor Parkes
70 Willie Coetzee
58 Landon Ferraro
58 Nick Oslund
68 Adam Estoclet*
24 Dean Chelios*
63 Julien Cayer
45 Casey Fraser*
Injured: Gleason Fournier
34 Petr Mrazek
31 Evan Mosher*
25 Brian Lashoff
54 Sebastien Piche
27 Travis Ehrhardt
56 Bryan Rufenach
61 Xavier Ouellet
75 Artem Sergeev*
77 Jake Chelios*
28 Tomas Jurco
53 Louis-Marc Aubry
65 Mitchell Callahan
71 Travis Novak*
50 Brooks Macek
74 Alan Quine
29 Marek Tvrdon
73 Phillipe Hudon
72 Zachery Franko*
49 Jesse Fraser*
Note: Players with an * next to their names are try-outs.
And again, via the team’s Facebook page, both the morning and afternoon sessions are open to the public, so whether you’re up in Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival this weekend or you can spare a day to head up and watch the next generation of Wings players, I’d highly encourage doing so:
The Detroit Red Wings will hold their annual summer prospect development camp from July 7-14 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich. Fans wishing to attend the proceedings may attend the first day free of charge, with tickets for the remainder of camp available for $5 (per day) apiece at the rink only.
This year’s development camp will feature seven of Detroit’s nine selections from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, including highly-touted offensive dynamo Tomas Jurco (RW, Saint John, QMJHL) as well as his fellow second-round picks Xavier Ouellet (D, Montreal, QMJHL) and Ryan Sproul (D, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Previous camp attendees set to appear at this invaluable week-long training session include renowned prospects Brendan Smith (D, Grand Rapids, AHL) and Landon Ferraro (C, Everett, WHL).
Friday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 13
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 1)
Thursday, July 14
8:30 – 10:00 a.m., Scrimmage/Skills Competition
“Team Zetterberg” took part in this morning’s on-ice activities while “Team Lidstrom” worked with Aaron Downey and the Wings’ training staff at Centre Ice Arena’s workout facility and in the upper-level hallway separating the Huntington Rink and David’s Rink, a few high-kick exercises which resemble skipping included.
This morning was particularly important in that it introduced the prospects to the key elements of skill-development over the next five days in the forms of stickhandling wizard Tomas Storm, power skating coach Andy Weidenbach and a strong set of Red Wings-like drills emphasizing puck possession and the kind of positioning, attention to detail and pace of play that separate junior-aged and AHL players from their NHL bretheren.
In every case, the Wings’ coaching staff aren’t attempting to teach anything particularly revolutionary per se—instead, it’s about detail work, attempting to utilize better stickhandling techniques to protect the puck, even if that means skating backward while dangling the puck from the tippy-toe of one’s stick blade, refiining skating skills by keeping one’s knees bent and center of mass over one’s skates as players better utilize the edges of their skates and the kinds of “C cuts” or skates-together-ski-slalom-style twists and turns that can both buy a player time and conserve momentum and energy so that the top half of the player’s body neither bleeds off speed and is free to do things like stickhandle….
And in the cases of Curt Fraser, Jim Paek, Keith McKittrick and Jiri Fischer, the Wings’ skaters are focusing very specifically on improving their transition game to incorporate outlet passes started by puck-moving defensemen yielding 2-on-1’s, 3-on-2’s and eventually 5-on-4’s generally including a skate to the far blueline before looping back and attacking the net (with traffic in front), attempts to steer off forechecking forwards by defensemen and, for the forwards, learning better positional play in terms of staying even with one’s linemates and learning how absolutely essential it is (to the point that Fraser and Paek repeatedly stopped drills) that every shot must be taken at full power, that every rebound must be dug out because, in Fraser’s words, “In the NHL, goalies stop everything, so shoot it hard and get the rebound!” Equal attention to detail was given to defensive drills, where a dump-in fired down ice by one of the coaches had to be retrieved by a pair of defensemen, who could either clear the puck or wait until the drill ended when their opposing forwards—and eventually, defensemen, with 5-on-2 odds against the defensive pair—put the puck into the back of the net.
At the same time, Jim Bedard spent a good third of the session working very specifically with Team Lidstrom’s goaltenders, Petr Mrazek and the supremely solid Evan Mosher, again focusing on both positioning and lateral mobility, doing some of the same, “You’re at the right/left post, the shooter’s at the opposite one, and, while in the butterfly position, you have to beat that shooter to the puck from five feet away from your crease” drills that are almost…violent at times. Sometimes the goalies had their sticks, and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they faced shooters from further out to attempt to kick out rebounds from their toes, to warm up their glove hands or to push off from one goalpost to the top of their crease, where a waiting forward or defenseman stood at the hash marks, prepared to unleash a one-timer.
When I say that Storm’s stickhandling drills and Weidenbach’s drills weren’t particularly complicated today, by that I mean that the players were only contorted into half-pretzel shapes, with Storm not relying too much on the slow-motion-style drills where players move pucks at half speed or one third speed (and he didn’t bring out the lawnmower tires today, either), and in Weidenbach’s case, basic edge work and focusing on keeping one’s shoulders upright and/or, as he said, one’s upper body “like spaghetti” while the lower body does the skating work. Things get more complicated each and every day as new wrinkles are slid into every drill and as Storm’s drills get slower and slower, Weidenbach’s speed up and begin to incorporate passing and players shifting in and out of drills as systems plays at least begin to sneak into his drills.
It’s fun to watch and sometimes—well, okay, mostly—chaotic, to the point that if I hadn’t seen these drills over the course of years’ worth of summer camps and now prospect tournaments, especially when it comes to crossovers at the blueline where players fold into and out of drills (which happens all the time), my head would be spinning.
In terms of brief observations about individual players:
Petr Mrazek: Looks a little more solid positionally, and when he’s scrambling, he’s no longer overcompensating on side-to-side pushes. Good glove as usual, less Hasek hight.
Evan Mosher: On the other hand, Mosher holds his glove like Hasek, but otherwise, after two days the best and worst things I can say about him are as follows: he’s a cookie-cutter modern butterfly goalie who’s technically sound.
Brian Lashoff: How do you separate the professionals from the amateurs, especially when we’re talking about subtle details? When engaging in Tomas Storm’s stickhanndling drills, Lashoff was the only player to stick his free hand out to ward off Storm’s would-be shadow’s stick, and when Lashoff clears the puck, he does so with urgency even when he doesn’t have to.
Sebastien Piche: Still skilled, demonstrative and has oodles of flair, but still small and sometimes underpowered. Can he graduate from the ECHL to the AHL this year, especially on a stacked Griffins’ blueline?
Artem Sergeev: From what little I’ve seen of him, his stickhandling and puck skills are superb, he’s solidly built and he’s a solid skater.
Nick Jensen: Worked with the morning group today, and what flair and aplomb he possesses with the puck. He’s gone from a skinny kid heading to the WCHA to a college pro who’s less skinny physically and much wider in terms of his ability to see the ice well and make no-panic plays in traffic.
Tomas Jurco: A little better today. He’s still very streaky and is a little shell-shocked at times but his hands and feet are fantastic and his work ethic is Tomas Tatar-like (they must make these kids on the same assembly line in Slovakia).
Louis-Marc Aubry: His arms and legs are still a little wild at times, but as he told me (see the interview below) he finally looks comfortable in his gigantic 6’5” frame and when he puts his mind to it, I adore his no-nonsense positioning, seriousness, competitiveness and desire to prove that while he’s going to head back to the Montreal Juniors for development’s sake, he could at least hold his own for a stint in Grand Rapids.
He’s still taking notes regarding the on-ice skill drills and off-ice workouts, too!
Mitchell Callahan: Actually wore a visor today and he’s starting to display a bit more savvy and a scorer’s flair with the puck on his stick. The extra year in Kelowna did wonders for his development. He’s no longer just a grinder going into his first pro season.
Brooks Macek: He bounced around last year but he’s still got that playmaker/goal-scorer/super-skater’s pedigree, but he also disappears at time.
Marek Tvrdon: Still trying to find his stride after an injury-shortened season, but he’s working his butt off and is slowly getting more comfortable.
Alan Quine: He’s no Darren Helm speed-wise, but his hands are superb.
Phillipe Hudon: FRICKIN HUGE. Raw as heck but he and Aubry see eye-to-eye.
In the multimedia department, the Red Wings’ Facebook page offers more camp photos, and RedWingsTV posted a clip of Tom McCollum…
And finally, via, um, me...
Here are my interviews with Louis-Marc Aubry…
The press’s scrum with Gustav Nyquist…
And an interview with Marek Tvrdon via Tomas Jurco, who was kind enough to translate for me:
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, here are some “sights and sounds” from Red Wings TV:
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.