Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings early overnight report: on the first day of camp, Abdelkader and Tatar’s future

Aside from Clearygate and the various media availabilities that took place at on Thursday, training camp did get underway at Centre Ice Arena.

The Wings have been split into three teams--teams Lindsay, Delvecchio and Howe--and depending on who figuratively gets the short end of the stick, their days break down as follows:

The first team to practice takes part in a pair of practices from 9:30-10:15 AM and then 10:20-11, with 5-to-10-minute video sessions preceding each practice;

The second team to practice skates for 40 minutes, from 11-11:40 (preceded by a 5-to-10-minute video session) and then takes part in a scrimmage consisting of 2 30-minute periods of running time (with goalies playing one period out of two);

And the third team to practice begins their on-ice day with the scrimmage and then practices from 1:05-1:50 PM (after a 5-to-10-minute video session).

Each and every team is separated into 3 colors of jerseys: there are "white" forwards and goalies, "red" forwards and goalies, and all of the defensemen wear black jerseys.

The video sessions were run by either coach Mike Babcock or assistants Bill Peters and Tom Renney (Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and goalie coach Jim Bedard also took part in running practices; Griffins assistants Spiros Anastas and Jim Paek helped run the benches during the scrimmage), and they're held in the atrium that would lead to the "West" and "David's" rinks on the ground level of the facility. That area's a no-go zone for the media during the video sessions, so I can't tell you what takes place there, but I can tell you that the Wings use in-game situations to illustrate the "do's" and the "don't do's."

On Thursday, Team Lindsay got the short end of the stick, as it were, and practiced for almost 90 minutes. Darren Helm was watching the video sessions while wearing a hoodie, and I should also note that Nick Jensen and Jeff Hoggan appeared to be present and watching during the scrimmage.

Teams Howe and Delvecchio scrimmaged, with Team Delvecchio winning 4-0, all on goals in which Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg or Justin Abdelkader took part in the scoring.

In terms of the practices, the drills really involved ramped-up versions of the drills Jeff Blashill emphasized in his morning skates, because everything done on Thursday involved puck retrieveals, transition through the neutral zone and forward positioning.

The first sets of drills involved retrieving dump-ins from either the blueline at the goalie's glove or blocker side, or at the half boards, with defensemen either sending a single pass out to a forward, "wheeling" the puck to his partner defenseman to send up to a forward, or, on occasion, allowing the goalie to play the puck.

The forwards would then either skate the puck out or skate it to another pair of defensemen at the opposite blueline, who would join the rush as the three forwards would skate back toward the defensemen and attempt to score a goal.

Depending on the drill, the forwards would have to make one, two or three passes while skating out of the zone, and when going into the zone, they would go up the middle, up the wall and send the puck back to a defenseman, planting a forward's butt in front of the net, or they'd try to go back to a defenseman and open up a "shooting" winger.

During these drills, Babcock was incredibly emphatic about positioning and the availability of an "F3"--or third forward--to help the defensemen out, and the forwards had to rotate from the slot, side boards, top of the dot or the hash marks as necessary. Drills stopped very, very, regularly when Babcock--or Peters--wasn't happy with positioning.

The players also engaged in neutral zone drills where the puck was gathered from one of four "repositories" of players stationed at the bluelines, with 2 defensemen on either blueline, and as usual, passes were either made to the four corners, to the defensemen or laterally before either 2 or 3 forwards and the 2 defensemen from the far blueline would charge in against 2 defensemen and usually 2 forwards in a "penalty-killing" situation. These drills would either go until a goal was scored, the puck was cleared or the coach chose to whistle things down, and again, if something wasn't going properly, the drill was stopped immediately.

The drills were truncated for the later teams and spread out for Team Lindsay, which was appropriate given that Team Lindsay is by far the "youngest" team taking part in training camp.

Speaking of which, here's how the teams break down, per the Red Wings...

TEAM DELVECCHIO

Forward Lines
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader
Mikael Samuelsson - Luke Glendening - Jordin Tootoo
David McIntyre (PTO) - Louis Marc Aubry - Martin Frk
Philippe Hudon - Andrej Nestrasil - Mitch Callahan

Defensive Pairings
Danny DeKeyser - Jakub Kindl
Brian Lashoff - Nathan Paetsch (PTO)
Marc McNulty - Alexei Marchenko

Goalies
Jonas Gustavsson, Tom McCollum

Coaches
Tom Renney, Spiros Anastos

TEAM HOWE

Forward Lines
Johan Franzen - Stephen Weiss - Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Patrick Eaves
Anthony Mantha - Andreas Athanasiou - Teemu Pulkkinen
Tyler Bertuzzi - Barclay Goodrow (PTO) - Trevor Parkes

Defensive Pairings
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Xavier Ouellet - Brennan Evans
Gleason Fournier - Max Nicastro

Goalies
Jimmy Howard, Jared Coreau

Coaches
Bill Peters, Jim Paek

TEAM LINDSAY

Forward Lines
Gustav Nyquist - Joakim Andersson - Todd Bertuzzi
Tomas Jurco - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar
Marek Tvrdon - Calle Jarnkrok - Landon Ferraro
Triston Grant - Zach Nastasiuk - Kevin Lynch

Defensive Pairings
Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith
Adam Almqvist - Ryan Sproul
Michal Plutnar - Richard Nedomlel

Goalies
Petr Mrazek, Jake Paterson, Cam Lanigan (PTO)

Coaches
Jeff Blashill, Keith McKittrick

And the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau offers the full roster:

NO.  PROSPECT NAME  POS  HT  WT  DRAFTED  2012-13 TEAM

FORWARDS

08  Justin Abdelkader  LW  6.01  212  DET-05 (2-42)  Detroit (NHL)
11  Daniel Alfredsson  RW  5.11  200  OTT-94 (6-133)  Ottawa (NHL)
18  Joakim Andersson  C  6.02  198  DET-07 (3-88)  Detroit (NHL)
72  Andreas Athanasiou  C/LW  6.00  179  DET-12 (4-110)  London (OHL)
32  Louis-Marc Aubry  C  6.04  205  DET-10 (3-81)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
44  Todd Bertuzzi  LW  6.03  225  NYI-93 (1-23)  Detroit (NHL)
59  Tyler Bertuzzi  LW  6.00  178  DET-13 (2-58)  Guelph (OHL)
67  Rasmus Bodin  C/LW  6.06  207  DET-12 (7-200)  Ostersunds (Swe J-18)
57  Mitch Callahan  RW  6.00  190  DET-09 (6-180)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
45  Willie Coetzee  RW  5.10  186  —  Toledo (ECHL)
13  Pavel Datsyuk  C  5.11  194  DET-98 (6-171)  Detroit (NHL)
17  Patrick Eaves  RW  6.00  191  OTT-03 (1-29)  Detroit (NHL)
25  Cory Emmerton  C/LW  5.11  183  DET-06 (2-41)  Detroit (NHL)
29  Landon Ferraro  C  6.00  174  DET-09 (2-32)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
93  Johan Franzen  RW  6.03  222  DET-04 (3-97)  Detroit (NHL)
42  Martin Frk  RW  6.00  193  DET-12 (2-49)  Halifax (QMJHL)
41  Luke Glendening  RW  5.11  200  —  Grand Rapids (AHL)
84  Barclay Goodrow *  RW  6.02  214  —  Brampton (OHL)
28  Triston Grant +  LW  6.02  212  PHI-04 (9-286)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
43  Darren Helm ++  LW  5.11  195  DET-05 (5-132)  Detroit (NHL)
81  Jeff Hoggan ++  LW  6.01  195  —  Grand Rapids (AHL)
63  Phillippe Hudon  RW  6.00  190  DET-11 (5-145)  Victoriaville (QMJHL)
70  Calle Jarnkrok  C  5.11  174  DET-10 (2-51)  Brynas (SWE)
26  Tomas Jurco  RW  6.02  193  DET-11 (2-35)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
85  Kevin Lynch +  C  6.01  198  CBJ-09 (2-56)  Michigan (NCAA)
39  Anthony Mantha  LW  6.04  190  DET-13 (1-20)  Val-d’Or (QMJHL)
73  David McIntyre +  C  6.00  185  DAL-06 (5-138)  Houston (AHL)
20  Drew Miller  LW  6.02  178  ANA-03 (6-186)  Detroit (NHL)
62  Zach Nastasiuk  C/RW  6.01  190  DET-13 (2-48)  Owen Sound (OHL)
49  Andrej Nestrasil  RW  6.02  200  DET-09 (3-75)  Toledo (ECHL)
14  Gustav Nyquist  LW  5.10  169  DET-08 (4-121)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
54  Trevor Parkes  RW  6.02  188  —  Grand Rapids (AHL)
56  Teemu Pulkkinen  LW  5.11  183  DET-10 (4-111)  Jokerit (FIN)
37  Mikael Samuelsson  RW  6.02  218  SJ-98 (5-145)  Detroit (NHL)
15  Riley Sheahan  C  6.02  212  DET-10 (1-21)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
21  Tomas Tatar  LW  5.11  176  DET-09 (2-60)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
22  Jordan Tootoo  RW  5.09  194  NSH-01 (4-98)  Detroit (NHL)
60  Marek Tvrdon  LW  6.02  217  DET-11 (4-115)  Vancouver (WHL)
90  Stephen Weiss  C  5.11  193  FLA-01 (1-4)  Florida (NHL)
40  Henrik Zetterberg  LW  5.11  195  DET-99 (7-210)  Detroit (NHL)

DEFENSEMEN

53  Adam Almquist  D  5.11  174  DET-09 (7-210)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
65  Danny Dekeyser  D  6.03  190  —  Western Michigan (NCAA)
52  Jonathan Ericsson  D  6.04  220  DET-02 (9-291)  Detroit (NHL)
51  Brennan Evans +  D  6.04  225  —  Grand Rapids (AHL)
46  Gleason Fournier  D  6.00  191  DET-09 (3-90)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
03  Nick Jensen ++  D  6.01  193  DET-09 (5-150)  St. Cloud State (NCAA)
04  Jakub Kindl  D  6.03  199  DET-05 (1-19)  Detroit (NHL)
55  Niklas Kronwall  D  6.00  192  DET-00 (1-29)  Detroit (NHL)
23  Brian Lashoff  D  6.03  207  —  Grand Rapids (AHL)
47  Alexei Marchenko  D  6.02  183  DET-11 (7-205)  CSKA (KHL)
74  Marc McNulty  D  6.06  185  DET-13 (6-169)  Prince George (WHL)
77  Richard Nedomlel  D  6.05  231  DET-11 (7-175)  Swift Current (WHL)
58  Max Nicastro  D  6.03  225  DET-08 (3-91)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
61  Xavier Ouellet  D  6.00  187  DET-11 (2-48)  Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)
24  Nathan Paetsch +  D  6.00  195  BUF-03 (7-202)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
75  Michal Plutner *  D  6.02  175  —  Tri-City (WHL)
27  Kyle Quincey  D  6.02  206  DET-03 (4-132)  Detroit (NHL)
02  Brendan Smith  D  6.01  170  DET-07 (1-27)  Detroit (NHL)
48  Ryan Sproul  D  6.03  186  DET-11 (2-55)  Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

GOALTENDERS

31  Jared Coreau  G  6.05  207  —  Northern Michigan (NCAA)
50  Jonas Gustavsson  G  6.03  192  —  Detroit (NHL)
35  Jimmy Howard  G  6.00  218  DET-03 (2-64)  Detroit (NHL)
68  Cam Lanigan *  G  6.03  202  —  Medicine Hat (WHL)
38  Tom McCollum +  G  6.02  205  DET-08 (1-30)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
34  Petr Mrazek  G  6.01  184  DET-10 (5-141)  Grand Rapids (AHL)
36  Jake Paterson  G  6.02  183  DET-12 (3-80)  Saginaw (OHL)

* denotes free agent tryout

+ denotes player on an AHL contract

++ player is injured and may not participate in on-ice sessions. Mitchell Wheaton is not scheduled to attend camp due to injuries.

** Roster is draft and Subject to change

By the time that Team Howe took to the rink for its afternoon practice, media availabilities had begun, and as they were skating in David's Rink while the players were beginning to be made available to the media after the second half of the scrimmage, so my butt was stuck in the West Rink...

But I managed to see the vast majority of the players, and on a line-by-line basis, here's what I thought of who I watched playing, albeit incredibly briefly:

TEAM DELVECCHIO

    Forward Lines

Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader: So ha-ha funny, right?

Henrik Zetterberg: Looks fantastic. Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Abdelkader could not NOT score on Thursday. They were men amongst boys, and they were having a good time being men amongst boys. Long beard for Hank. He was really good on the first day of training camp.

Pavel Datsyuk: Ditto. When Datsyuk wasn't fishing, he and Zetterberg were plucking pucks out of the net. Datsyuk's using the new Reebok Ribcore stick, and his gloves are still double-palm thick.

Image courtesy of Slapshot Photography LLC

Justin Abdelkader: Was using a Warrior stick admist the Bauer gear. He had an easy day. He's in the right spot at the right time, and going to the net and staying there is coming a little more naturally.

Mikael Samuelsson - Luke Glendening - Jordin Tootoo: This line was a bit of a mess.

Mikael Samuelsson: Samuelsson, back in his old Bauer One 95's, worked pretty darn hard. He still has that rifle of a slap shot, he still has really good skating speed for a big man--which he is--when he's on his high horse, and he looked like someone who'd barely played hockey in a year-and-a-half.

Luke Glendening: Glendening was as good as he could be given his linemates. Fast enough, smooth enough, gritty defensive center. Wrong linemates.

Jordin Tootoo: Tootoo and the first day of training camp did not get along. Tootoo stumbled and bumbled a decent amount. Speedy as can be, but positioning drills are not his forte.

David McIntyre (PTO) - Louis Marc Aubry - Martin Frk: Hm.

David McIntyre: At first he was awful, but then he started to keep up? That's all I've honestly got on the former Houston Aeros forward and 2-way center.

Louis-Marc Aubry: Aubry is gigantic at 6'5" and Aubry remains a project forward. He was, however, much more assertive and engaged this time around. He didn't look intimidated at all by his surroundings, and he was chugging up ice and passing and shooting well.

Martin Frk: First of many turning-pro guys dealing with some, "HOLY SHIT IT'S THE NHL" heebie jeebies. Frk's fast hands and fast feet snag him all sorts of loose pucks, Frk's scoring sense is there and his hunchbacked skating posture belies a strong stride. But he was intimidated.

Philippe Hudon - Andrej Nestrasil - Mitch Callahan: Hm.

Phillipe Hudon: Hudon was his usual grinding self, if only even more grind-y than usual. Hudon is a meat-and-potatoes forward who mucks it up and pays attention to details. He works hard. He's not gonna wow you.

Andrej Nestrasil: For somebody who's on the AHL bubble, Nestrasil had a so-so day in my opinion. He was up and down, at times displaying a scoring touch and at times wondering whether he'd lost the linemate lottery.

Mitch Callahan: Had to work off the last In-n-Out burger. Lots of hustle, looks more filled out, had a slow first day.

Defensive Pairings

Danny DeKeyser - Jakub Kindl: The gents look more comfortable together.

Danny DeKeyser: DeKeyser's still trying to wrap his toe around that extra step of skating that he possesses, but there were fewer "DeKeyserfaces." He looked calmer and more confident out there.

Jakub Kindl: Kindl had a veteran's bearing. He was calm, patient and mobile, willing to take the body a little more and very composed.

Brian Lashoff - Nathan Paetsch (PTO): Tricky duo.

Brian Lashoff: Lashoff is really being pushed for an NHL spot at present, and there are times when he is no-frill-wonderfully simple and efficient, and there are times when you wonder whether DeKeyser possesses the half-step that Lashoff does not. He was solid.

Nathan Paetsch: The Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman wears his visor jacked up even higher than Kronwall's, and he skates pretty solidly. He worked well with Lashoff and his poise may be why the Wings have him on a "PTO."

Marc McNulty - Alexei Marchenko: Amusing.

Marc McNulty: McNulty has little to no fear, or at least that's what it looks like. He was outclassed by his NHL veteran bretheren, he was walked around, he wasn't fantastic, but there was no sense of frustration or disappointment. He kept using that toe-taped stick to knock down passes and he kept skating like he's 6'0" instead of 6'6."

Alexei Marchenko: Marchenko took today VERY seriously. He was also having a bit of an "OH SHIT IT'S THE NHL!" day, but he was all right. He's still adjusting to the North American angles, big time.

Goalies

Jonas Gustavsson, Tom McCollum

Jonas Gustavsson: Honest to Pete, the reduction on thigh rises may be the best thing that's happened to Jonas Gustavsson since he was told to stop playing on his goal line. Wearing new Warrior Ritual 2 pads literally autographed by NHL goalie cop Kay Whitmore, he looked much, much more mobile without those frickin' foot-high thigh-rises getting in his way, and he's having to work harder on his technique, so pucks are "sticking" to him more. He looked great, frankly.

Image courtesy of Slapshot Photography LLC

Tom McCollum: McCollum looked good, too, possibly using one of Jake Paterson's CCM catch gloves, and definitely using AHL-certified but not NHL-kosher leg pads. McCollum's quietly on a mission, and that's good.

TEAM HOWE

Forward Lines

Johan Franzen - Stephen Weiss - Daniel Alfredsson: Really solid.

Johan Franzen: Franzen holds onto the puck far too long. That's my biggest frustration with him. If the man "gave and went" more often, he could certainly do more than skate himself into trouble. He needs to get his big butt to the net, or he needs to get in position to make a pass, but on the first day of camp, he tried to do everything himself.

Stephen Weiss: Weiss is why he doesn't need to do that any more. This was just my first day seeing him, but Weiss is speedy--though not as fast as Filppula--he wins faceoffs, he's a very good passer, he's enthusiastic and his shot is sneaky good. He blended in very well with Alfredsson.

Daniel Alfredsson: The reason the Red Wings signed Alfredsson is because he skates, shoots, passes and plays like he's 35. He was obviously uncomfortable trying to learn about new linemates and a new team and a new coaching system etc. etc., but he's fast, he's got an awesome shot and he's an absolutely superb playmaker with an innate sense of positioning.

Image courtesy of Slapshot Photography LLC

Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Patrick Eaves: The mehs?

Drew Miller: Miller was solid but wasn't extraordinary. I noticed his still "Rangered" gloves (with big shot-blocking plastic pads on the backhands) more than anything else, though he did go to the net.

Image courtesy of Slapshot Photography LLC

Cory Emmerton: Emmerton is what he is and he's gonna give you what he's gonna give you. He's a speedy, slightly undersized fourth line center who is competent and capable in his role, and he's trying to shoot more.

Patrick Eaves: Eaves looked all right. Ground the puck out, took some shots of his own, passed well, didn't get much ice time during the scrimmage.

Anthony Mantha - Andreas Athanasiou - Teemu Pulkkinen: What a difference two days make.

Anthony Mantha: Mantha was enthusiastic, willing to learn and occasionally let that booming shot off. But he was quite subdued.

Andreas Athanasiou: Ditto, especially given that those massive, powerful legs just rip through AHL-to-NHL-level talent, but run into walls like Jonathan Ericsson and stop dead.

Teemu Pulkkinen: Kept taking hits and bouncing off of them, kept making superb passes, let out a wicked wrister or slapper or two and looked surprisingly comfortable.

Tyler Bertuzzi - Barclay Goodrow (PTO) - Trevor Parkes: Meat, potatoes and gravy.

Tyler Bertuzzi: Speedy, again, good passer, again, nice shot, again, didn't look happy not being able to hit people.

Barclay Goodrow: Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, were Goodrow and Trevor Parkes. Goodrow chugs up and down the middle of the ice looking for contact, is ready to make the right defensive play or breakout pass, and was solid.

Trevor Parkes: As was Parkes, except that he was patroling the wing. Meat and potatoes guys.

Defensive Pairings

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson: The usual.

Niklas Kronwall: Kronwall looked superb. His pinches were well-timed, his playmaking sense remains elite and he can issue a hard hit even on the first day of training camp. Still #1.

Jonathan Ericsson: His pinches still frighten me, he's occasionally too creative for his own good and he was skating particularly well. He and Kronwall were pretty seamless.

Xavier Ouellet - Brennan Evans: Oof.

Xavier Ouellet: Another "OH SHIT!" day. Ouellet is remarkably fluid and very understated, and he was nearly invisible, which was great, except that he was getting walked past, which was not so great.

Brennan Evans: Looked like a very heavy body slash enforcer. Which is what he is.

Gleason Fournier - Max Nicastro: Up and down.

Gleason Fournier: I didn't see him. That's not a good thing.

Max Nicastro: I did see him. He was reliable, steady, quiet, efficient. A little more confident after a good prospect tournament showing.

Goalies

Jimmy Howard: I would say that Howard's lost an inch to an inch-and-a-half off of the top of his thigh rises, but it doesn't seem to bug him at all. He was up and down in terms of his rebound control, but his glove remains excellent, his puckhandling is superb, and you see the wings of the winged wheel and the American flag on the back of his mask more than you do the Spirit of Detroit.

Jared Coreau: He let in a squeaker or two in the scrimmage, but he was good. Big, properly-positioned, strong.

TEAM LINDSAY

Forward Lines

Gustav Nyquist - Joakim Andersson - Todd Bertuzzi: Good line. This line actually worked very well.

Gustav Nyquist: Nyquist wasn't exactly elegant during his first day, but he was efficient, enthusiastic, he made good plays and took solid shots and he skated around the ice speedily and dilligently. He looked like himself.

Image courtesy of Slapshot Photography LLC

Joakim Andersson: Andersson's trying all new stuff--Bauer helmet, Bauer gloves, Bauer stick, Bauer skates--and it looked a bit off for him. He wasn't quite as comfortable in that big, powerful stride.

Todd Bertuzzi: Back to 100%, not too happy about not being able to hit people, very vocal, willing to ask coaches for pointers, astute.

Tomas Jurco - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar: Two tired players and a driven one.

Both Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan looked like they were out of gas after pouring their hearts and souls into the prospect tournament. They weren't poor by any means, but they looked winded.

Tomas Tatar: Tatar looked like someone who already assumed that his number was close to being up with the team. He's very driven, skating very hard, looking to make plays, to generate scoring chances and to be in the right spot at the right time. He came to camp with a fire lit under his ass.

Marek Tvrdon - Calle Jarnkrok - Landon Ferraro: Some good, some gassed.

Marek Tvrdon: Continues to look like someone who is improving. He wasn't a world-beater, but his skating stride keeps getting smoother and he keeps showing that he's big, strong and tough to move.

Calle Jarnkrok: Jarnkrok looked a little overwhelmed. No less elegantly smooth, no less polished or poised, but a little overwhelmed.

Landon Ferraro: Ferraro came to camp ready to prove that he's Jarnkrok-like in his near-NHL-readiness, and he was gritty, he ground out pucks, he was defensively responsible and he riled of some hard shots while churning up and down the ice. He looked good and he looked driven.

Triston Grant - Zach Nastasiuk - Kevin Lynch: an adventure

Triston Grant: Solid, sound, but I can't say much else about him.

Zach Nastasiuk: Continued to look very, very good as a gritty center with some offensive panache, but the prospect tournament and main camp are two different things.

Kevin Lynch: He was fast. And right-handed. That's all I've got.

Defensive Pairings

Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith: They actually looked very good.

Kyle Quincey: Quincey was generally in the right place at the right time(!), made the safe play, was smartly-positioned, skated hard and looked comfortable in his own skin.

Brendan Smith: Smith was not as polished, but he skated very well, he tried to make plays on his own a wee bit less dangerously and he was both enthusiastic and attentive.

Image courtesy of Slapshot Photography LLC

Adam Almqvist - Ryan Sproul: The good and the gassed.

Adam Almquist: Looks like he's gained five pounds, which is huge for him. He looked a lot more NHL-ready, if one day's viewing can yield that kind of prediction. He looks more like he's 16 than 14 now.

Ryan Sproul: Tired from the tourney. Was his solid self. Trying to figure out what to do with a new partner.

Michal Plutnar - Richard Nedomlel: Odd couple?

Michal Plutnar: Looked very good, as if he'd hit the reset button after the tourney ended. His skill level is there in terms of passing and playmaking and he's a very good skater. He just hasn't been much else.

Richard Nedomlel: Safe, strong, unintimidated and untimidatable. He was quietly doing his job, and it ain't pretty, but it works.

Goalies

Petr Mrazek: Sporting an all-new set of pads and gloves, glove high as high can be, stick active, he was a little less acrobatic and a little more reserved but no less difficult to beat. I don't know if it's a trend or not.

Jake Paterson: Paterson was OK. He looked tired.

Cam Lanigan (PTO): Lanigan, like Plutnar, hit the reset button, and Lanigan's upright stance and strong fundamentals make him a really, really solid hybrid goalie. Whether that solidness will translate into an AHL deal is doubtful.

 

 

In other news...The Associated Press posted a "general interest" training camp story...

New Detroit Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss says the franchise’s perpetual contender status was a big reason he decided to come to Detroit. Detroit signed Daniel Alfredsson and Weiss and extended Pavel Datsyuk’s deal, giving the team a better chance for success as it shifts to the Eastern Conference under NHL realignment. The Wings also agreed to bring back veteran forward Danny Cleary on Thursday with a one-year deal for $1.75 million.

“It’s really refreshing,” Weiss said as the Red Wings opened training camp. “They try to win the Stanley Cup every year and they going to try and do what they have to do to make that happen. That’s awesome for me, coming here and try to do whatever I can to help out.”

With established veteran stars like Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg already in the fold and adding two proven vets in Alfredsson and Weiss, the Red Wings aim to improve their offence from a year ago. At 2.54 goals per game, Detroit was 20th out 30 NHL squads.

“One of the things we wanted to accomplish in the off-season was secondary scoring,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Last year, we were fifth in the league in goals against. We needed to be a little better in the goal-scoring department. Injuries were a factor, but we also changed the personnel.”

Johan Franzen paired with Alfredsson and Weiss in Thursday’s scrimmage, while Justin Abdelkader was on the Datsyuk and Zetterberg line.

The 40-year-old Alfredsson had a slight drop-off in his numbers in last year’s shortened season, scoring 10 goals and 26 points in 47 games. In the previous 11 years, he was a 70-point scorer nine times, including a 103-point 2005-06 campaign. He inked a one-year, $5.5 million contract with Detroit in July.

Weiss, 10 years younger than Alfredsson, has put up 394 points in 654 career NHL games, including 42 or more points in each of the last six non-shortened seasons. He signed a five-year, $24.5 million deal in July.

Alfredsson said the first day of Red Wings activity wasn’t that big of a change for him.

“It’s not too different,” Alfredsson said. “I see a lot of similarities. I don’t know if it’s because (Paul MacLean) in Ottawa was part of this organization for a long time and applied some of the ideas with some of his own. It’s not far off. … It looks like I should have a pretty easy time adjusting.”

MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Justin Abdelkader's chemistry with Datsyuk and Zetterberg...

Coach Mike Babcock hopes to play Datsyuk and Zetterberg together this season. He hasn't decided who'll ride shotgun. He is giving Abdelkader the first shot because he liked the way the former Michigan State star looked on the top line last season with Datsyuk.

“He's 26 years old, it's just about time he becomes a player in the league,'' Babcock said. “It takes you that long. Abby skates way better than he used to. He's got huge confidence. Being invited to (the USA) Olympic camp probably didn't hurt him confidence-wise. You come here today and shoot two in the net you just start thinking that's your job. Really good for him, much better for us.''

The Red Wings expect Abdelkader to do the heavy lifting for that line – work the corners, provide a net-front presence, retrieve pucks and play physical.

“He brings speed and size,'' Zetterberg said. “He's a smart player, he can go in front of the net for us. He'll always be there, kind of like (Tomas Holmstrom) did, and screen the goalies and be in the corners retrieving pucks for us. He's a physical guy and every time I had a chance to play with him it's been working pretty good.''

The line provided all the offense in Team Delvecchio's 4-0 victory over Team Howe, dominating Stephen Weiss' line, with Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen. Zetterberg had a goal and three assists and Datsyuk provided a goal and two assists. Playing with a pair of puck-handling wizards, Abdelkader in prepared to receive the puck at any time.

“They’ll find you,'' he said. “You just have to be ready and have your stick on the ice at all times because more than likely it’s going to end up there."

The Free Press's Helene St. James noted that Tomas Tatar's got a Daniel Cleary-sized roadblock in his face...

“It’s going to be really hard,” Tatar said after practice at Centre Ice Arena. “We have like eight exhibition games and it’s part of the season. Maybe you’re not scoring, nothing is going your way - I wouldn’t be happy if this is going to decide my next future.”

Even before Cleary’s return, Tatar appeared an odd man out as coach Mike Babcock’s training camp divisions have Tatar on a line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco, both of whom will start in the minors.

Tatar, 22, is at the point in his career when he has to make the Wings, because he can’t be sent down without waivers. He appeared in 18 games last season for the Wings, producing four goals and three assists, but mostly starred at the AHL level with the Griffins, where he collected 23 goals and 26 assists in 61 games, followed by 21 points in 24 games as he helped Grand Rapids to the Calder Cup.

“I was really happy I was doing good, there were lots of good moments,” Tatar said. “I was really happy I could help win.”

The challenge now is for Tatar to show he belongs at the NHL level. He’s not going to be used in an offensive role with the Wings, so he’s got to figure out how to work as a role player before he can make an argument for more minutes.

“I think I’m a skilled player,” Tatar said. “I can bring some really good offensive part of the game. I know Mike wants me to get better on defense, so I will try to get better at that and will try to manage the puck and not lose it a lot, so hold it for us. I think this is going to be my focus for the season.”

And the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau snagged her own interview with Tatar:

“It is going to be a hard battle, but I am a young guy so I am ready for the battle,” Tatar said. “I don’t know what is going to happen and they signed new guys so I don’t really know what their plan is. I am just going to try and prove that I belong there and it’s up to them if they choose me or not.”

The competitive forward is a proven goal scorer and has shown he can create offense at every level including the NHL. Last season, Tatar was called up for four games where he netted four goals and seven points in that span. He’ll have to continue that productivity when the exhibition season starts next week to make a strong push for a roster spot.

“Obviously I will try and play my best, but sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” he said. “It’s kind of scaring me a little because sometimes you can’t play the five best games in your life. I think I proved that I belong in the NHL these four years so these games shouldn’t be the final decision factor, but I am going to play the best that I can.”

The 22 year-old must clear waivers to be sent to the AHL and he’s made it clear he isn’t interested in a fifth season in the minors.

“I have been in the AHL for four years and we won a Calder Cup,” Tatar said. “I love Grand Rapids, but I don’t  think it makes sense for me to be in that league anymore. I want to play in the NHL, but if there is no room with the Red Wings then hopefully another team picks me up on waivers or I am traded.”

Tatar’s agent has also fielded multiple calls from the KHL over the summer and if he can’t land an NHL job then playing in Europe is a strong consideration for the diminutive forward.

“I have lots of options and teams in the KHL have called asking about my plans for this season,” he said. “I want to do my best to make the NHL, but if that doesn’t happen then I will probably play in Russia.”

I hope it doesn't come to that, and amongst her other notes, this is all I could get out of Ken Holland:

“That is why I am hired to figure out the salary cap complication,” General Manager Ken Holland said. “We have no choice, we will be cap compliant the Monday before the season starts. We have some decisions to make and I think they are good decisions because we have some depth.”

Ditto for this one from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

The Red Wings need to get salary cap compliant and have a set 23-man roster before 3 p.m. on Oct. 1. The regular season begins Oct. 2 against Buffalo.

"Let's see what goes on," said Holland, in terms of the roster. "We all felt we're a better team with Dan Cleary. We'll let everything else sort itself out."

With Cleary's signing, forward Gustav Nyquist, who has minor-league options available, will almost surely be sent down to Grand Rapids to start the season. Forward Darren Helm (groin, back) will likely start the season on the injured list.

That would leave one other Red Wings forward in need of being traded (which Holland would prefer to do), or waived, unless someone else gets hurt before the end of the exhibition season.

Forward Jordin Tootoo is a strong possibility, with Tomas Tatar (who can't be sent down to Grand Rapids anymore without being exposed to waivers) and Cory Emmerton also possible trade targets.

But with most every team basically set with their rosters, many teams up against the salary cap and teams wanting to go with younger (cheaper) players, finalizing a trade becomes increasingly difficult.

"We'll let it play itself out," Holland said.

In the multimedia department, Lindenau, the Detroit News's David Guralnick and the Detroit Free Press's Heather Rousseau posited photo galleries...

The Wings' interview with Stephen Weiss is currently not embeddable...

Fox 32 posted a video from training camp...

 

And yes, TSN posted clips of Cleary's comments and Alfredsson's willingness to give up #11, as well as a much longer 3:11 feature story about Alfredsson's debut.

FYI:

And I've been wondering about this, so the Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen reports that the Vancouver Giants would probably trade Marek Tvrdon's rights if he were reassigned to them, so don't expect that to happen.

 

Update: These came in at the last minute, but Grand Traverse Insider photographer Jim Schoensee posted a gigantic 273-image gallery from Day 1 of training camp!

 

Update #2: You may read Dave Lozo's Bag Skate on the Score on your own, but he digs Ken Holland's 4-on-4 then 3-on-3 OT idea...

Greg Wyshysnski has a point about Daniel Cleary being a terrible monetary negotiator;

The 7&4 News's Harrison Beeby posited a Wings open camp video:

Ditto for the 9&10 News:

 

Sportsnet also posted an Alfredsson video and a 5-minute clip in which Ken Daniels explains the Cleary soap opera.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Heaton's avatar

Our best offense prospect won’t be used in an offensive role but Dan Cleary and Abdelkader will.  Sweet decisions.  Especially for a team who needs more goal scoring.

Posted by Heaton on 09/12/13 at 10:19 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I believe in a thing called TRTO90.

This is just my gut talking, but I believe that we’re going to see a Nyquist-Andersson-Tatar line in the end.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/13 at 10:30 PM ET

Avatar

I just don’t get it, what do they want from Tatar? The guy has done everything asked of him. He has succeeded at every level he has played at. They invested 4 years of development into him and he blossomed into a very promising goal scoring winger. He put the Griffins on his back and carried them to an AHL title. Now they are just gonna cut him loose for dan f-ing cleary?? Babcock wants him to be better defensively? Why doesn’t mike tell dan cleary and his -6 rating to get better defensively? While he’s at it maybe he can also teach dan how to skate and handle the puck? They drafted Tatar knowing full well what he is, a goal scoring winger not a dynamic defensive player.

If Holland trades Tatar we can immediately add that to his growing list of boneheaded decisions. Like giving Franzen a lifetime deal instead of doing whatever was necessary to resign Hossa, giving up a 1st round pick for a bottom pair defenseman (Quincey) who used to be on our team! Keeping Meech over Quincey, signing Samuelsson last year, and worst of all resigning dan cleary. It’s only gonna get worse now that the real brains behind the Wings front office (Jim Nill) is no longer with the team.

Posted by cotts1 on 09/12/13 at 10:32 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

“I have been in the AHL for four years and we won a Calder Cup,” Tatar said. “I love Grand Rapids, but I don’t think it makes sense for me to be in that league anymore. I want to play in the NHL, but if there is no room with the Red Wings then hopefully another team picks me up on waivers or I am traded.”

Every prospect in the Wings organization should make a copy of that paragraph and post it in his locker. It’ll remind them all that, no matter how hard they work, the Wings brass will always choose “veterans” (i.e., guys who used to be good but aren’t any more) over them in the end.

The idea that the Wings may end up with Cleary, Sammy and Bert on the squad while Nyquist rots in G.R. and Tatar gets traded (probably for a 4th round pick) just makes me sick. I was extremely excited about this season, but today’s news has left me with one huge “meh” feeling about Oct. 2.

“I have lots of options and teams in the KHL have called asking about my plans for this season,” he said. “I want to do my best to make the NHL, but if that doesn’t happen then I will probably play in Russia.”

And the NHL wonders why players are heading to the KHL.

Unless all of this is leading up to some surprise blockbuster deal that Holland has secretly cooked up, he’s proven he’s no longer “the best GM in hockey.” Hell, right now, he’s not even in the ten.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/12/13 at 10:57 PM ET

Avatar

“I have been in the AHL for four years and we won a Calder Cup,” Tatar said. “I love Grand Rapids, but I don’t think it makes sense for me to be in that league anymore. I want to play in the NHL, but if there is no room with the Red Wings then hopefully another team picks me up on waivers or I am traded.”

Every prospect in the Wings organization should make a copy of that paragraph and post it in his locker. It’ll remind them all that, no matter how hard they work, the Wings brass will always choose “veterans” (i.e., guys who used to be good but aren’t any more) over them in the end.

The best part of the whole thing is that Nyquist and Tatar have done anything and everything they could do to earn a spot as Red Wings and immediately, on their first day at camp, as Nyquist has a brand new contract and Tatar should finally be a lock to make the team, they are thrown another hurdle they have o jump over.  Ad not only is it a hurdle, but it’s a hurdle in the form of a player that nobody else wanted, yet who somehow, for some reason Mike Babcock has a blind spot for, a guy that Babcock thinks is much, much, much, much better than he is, making it that much more difficult for these guys to win Babcock over.

Hey everyone, remember that f*cking pile of horsesh*t about how the Wings were embracing the youth movement?  Yeah, youth movement my ass…

Unless all of this is leading up to some surprise blockbuster deal that Holland has secretly cooked up

Tatar, Nyquist and DeKeyser for picks so they can coax Sean O’Donnell out of retirement.

 

 

Posted by Garth on 09/12/13 at 11:22 PM ET

Avatar

The Tatar situation is nothing short of depressing. Smart money says that Kenny trades a first to re-acquire Tatar three years from now.

Posted by Jay. on 09/12/13 at 11:31 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Great write-up, George, thanks for all the quality reporting.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 09/12/13 at 11:55 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Look, I like Tatar and like what I think he will bring to the Wings. I hope he has a great camp, makes the team, and his AHL-dominating talent projects forward to the NHL and we have a better version of Jiri Hudler for years to come.

But the funny thing about how fans look at prospects is that they habitually overrate them (pretty much no matter the sport, but baseball is the worst). There’s a lot of worry in these comments about how we could miss out on Tatar being a very good top six scorer for us, taking that for granted because he’s succeeded in that manner at other levels. Our tendency is to want the future to look bright, and to get excited about the thing we don’t know. It’s the “grass is always greener” problem.

For every one Nicklas Kronwall—guy that is a stud in the AHL and his development translates to him being a stud in the NHL—there are multiple Keith Aucoins—guys that look like they should be consistent NHL players that produce at an above-average level, but that marginal difference between the leagues is just enough to leave them in the dust.

That said, given the way the Wings develop players slowly (and despite all the rage recently, they do it very successfully if you look at their track record), I think it’s fair to assume that Tatar will be a good NHLer. I’m just asking that folks be realistic about what Tatar really is (a very good prospect, not a GREAT prospect), and realize that there’s a whole hell of a lot of knowledge that Babcock, Holland, and co. have that we don’t have (and likely never will). It’s not as if we’re fans of the Oilers or Islanders where we would have reason to be skeptical of every decision the team’s management makes. This management group has won a boatload of games and a Stanley Cup in this post-lockout era.

Let’s let camp play out, and then when the roster has actually taken shape, make our judgments and criticisms of Holland and Babcock then, at least when we’re dealing in facts, not conjecture based on some fear that is based on some expectation of what a player could be.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/13/13 at 07:50 AM ET

MacPhisto's avatar

Tatar is the most clutch player the Wings have since Zetterberg and Yzerman before them. Always comes up huge. Just look at his WJC or Calder performance.

I won’t watch this season if we regress to good ol’ country club days. Youth was what made last season enjoyable and they gave us success in the PO.

Posted by MacPhisto from Hungary on 09/13/13 at 09:24 AM ET

Avatar

Let’s let camp play out, and then when the roster has actually taken shape, make our judgments and criticisms of Holland and Babcock then, at least when we’re dealing in facts, not conjecture based on some fear that is based on some expectation of what a player could be.

The problem is that by bringing back Cleary and overloading the roster, it’s simply made that much harder on the prospects.

We already know how difficult it will be to move Samuelsson, Tootoo and/or Emmerton and we know that Cleary and Bert aren’t going anywhere, so now instead of being able to make the team and prove themselves over the course of an NHL year, guys like Tatar and Nyquist must prove themselves in 3 scrimmages and 8-10 and if they don’t then they might end up rotting in Grand Rapids (Nyquist) or the KHL.

This is not how you treat prospects.

Posted by Garth on 09/13/13 at 09:36 AM ET

Avatar

Well said Nathan.

Posted by guy on 09/13/13 at 09:53 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I think it’s fair to assume that Tatar will be a good NHLer. I’m just asking that folks be realistic about what Tatar really is (a very good prospect, not a GREAT prospect)...

My outrage (and, yes, I’m that pissed) over the Cleary signing isn’t based on assuming Tatar is an instant top-six forward. In fact, I was hoping like hell that he, Gus and Andy would be the Wings’ third line – a speedy, dynamic trio with a nose for the net and sound (if not top end) defensive ability. Everything we’ve seen from all three of them last year indicates that’s what their line would be like.

Now, with the addition of Cleary, the Wings have seventeen forwards under contract. Even if Helm goes on LTIR and Gus is sent to GR, they’ll have to either unload another forward or send DK to GR. All so Buckets can play on wonky knees for an entire season in the hopes that he’ll be healthy enough to be a “big contributor” next spring.

And if they lose a solid prospect, and others (like Jarnkrok, Sheahan, Ferarro, Jurco, etc.) get discouraged because there’s no room for them, oh well, at least everyone knows the Wings are “loyal” to their aging players. That might be the way to run a social club, but it’s no damn way to run a hockey club.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/13/13 at 10:14 AM ET

Crater's avatar

Even before Cleary’s return, Tatar appeared an odd man out as coach Mike Babcock’s training camp divisions have Tatar on a line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco, both of whom will start in the minors.

That’s not good. Its great to treat vets well, it helps when getting FA and trades and such.. but not at the cost of telling all your prospects to not get their hopes up. Especially after saying to the media, re: salary cap era, that to succeed you need to draft and develop well.  If we loose Tatar or Nyquist (or he goes down and wastes a year in the minors) I will be disappointed in Holland and Babcock.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 09/13/13 at 11:50 AM ET

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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.