The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/13/13 at 08:57 PM ET
While I was sleeping in after penning last night's post-scrimmage entry, MLive's Brendan Savage penned updates regarding Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and the exit of Damien Brunner, and the Red Wings' prospects, who will be taking part in morning practice sessions only on Sunday, spent their only "off-day" playing paintball and touring Camp Grayling:
Regarding last night's scrimmage, while the media types and pretend-media types like me headed to the locker room to snag interviews and write our recaps, Red Wings TV spoke to Ken Holland and Mike Babcock about the prospects' performances, and they talked to Ryan Sproul, Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk and director of player development Jiri Fischer as well:
TAKE NOTE, folks: Babcock readily admitted that many of these prospects are 5 years away from playing in the NHL...
The Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook spoke to Ferris State University defensemen Simon Denis and Jason Binkley about being brought in for the evening and Cook penned something of a recap as well...
“That was really nice, being able to play (alongside) Simon,” Binkley said. “We just know each other. We played together, even before college. We’re going on a four-year relationship now. I’m getting sick of him (laughs). It’s nice to play with someone who I know and who I can communicate with and who speaks the same language as I do, too. That’s always nice.”
Martin Frk, a 2012 second-round pick, scored two goals and assisted on another and 2013 first-round pick Anthony Mantha also scored twice and assisted once.
“Frk is really crafty, great with the puck, can skate, finisher,” Chelios said. “Mantha looks like a kid that got drafted really high.”
“Frk was really good,” Blashill said. “He’s a guy who knows how to find the net. He knows how to get open. On our power play stuff, you could tell he’s a guy who has really good instincts. I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player.”
One physical moment included Tyler Bertuzzi and Frk. The two collided in the corner — each claimed to be the one hitting the other — and Bertuzzi’s helmet flew up in the air even with the railing on the mezzanine level.
“I didn’t mean to,” Frk said. “I think I put my stick too high and I probably hit him with my stick in the eye or chin. I didn’t mean to. I felt bad after.”
Lidstrom went up early on Zach Nastasiuk’s goal 3:10 into the game. Frk and 2013 fourth-rounder David Pope made it 3-0, and then Ryan Sproul set up Frk for another to take a 4-0 advantage into the intermission. The contest was set up with two 30-minute periods, with no time served in the box for penalties. Any penalty — and there was only one — resulted in the opposing team being awarded a penalty shot. The second period included each team getting one four-minute power play. The game was followed by a 19-round shootout, with each side scoring four times.
In the second period, Richard Nedomlel and Mantha added goals on Lidstrom’s power play, while the defense held Yzerman off the board during its four-minute advantage. Yzerman finally got on the board with 5:50 left on Dane Walters’ goal assisted by Andreas Athanasiou and Marek Tvrdon. Walters is a camp invite from Western Michigan University. Mantha scored off a Dean Chelios assist with 1.5 ticks left for the final 7-1 margin.
“It was kind of a lop-sided affair here,” Chris Chelios said. “Our team played pretty well. Those key guys were our first two picks (Frk and Mantha). I was pretty impressed by them.”
After noting that Wings coach Mike Babcock's son, Michael, had been traded from the USHL's Cedar Rapids Roughriders to the Fargo Force, the Record-Eagle posited some comments from coach Babcock about his son:
“This is a good development opportunity for him,” the coach added. “He came last year. This time he’s in his age group (with some of the players just drafted). He’s got a plan for his next six years, as far as going to the USHL and school.”
Babcock Jr. will be draft eligible for next summer’s NHL draft.
“It’s just like with any of these kids (prospects), you have to keep getting better,” the elder Babcock said. “If you keep getting better, maybe somebody will give you an opportunity to play.”
Babcock Jr., a first-team All-State pick in Division 1, was drafted with the 68th overall pick and played in five USHL games for the RoughRiders at the end of the season.
“As a parent, you like to watch your kids do anything,” Babcock said. “It makes you proud. I’m a big believer in life that you maximize your potential, squeeze every ounce of yourself that you have, whether it be sport, school or whatever. Here’s an opportunity for him.”
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness also offers more from Holland regarding the process of player development, as stated after the scrimmage:
“It’s a process,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said after the scrimmage. “It’s a long process. Some of the players we wanted to play good did play good, (Anthony) Mantha, (Xavier) Ouelett, (Ryan) Sproul and Frk. Then there’s other guys we didn’t think are as far as long. But in another year or two, they might be having good scrimmages.”
Frk flourished this season with the Halifax Moosehead, playing on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, recording 35 goals and 49 assists in 56 games. He also finished a plus-31, after back-to-back seasons ending with a minus. MacKinnon was the first player taken in this year’s draft, while Drouin was the third overall pick.
“You look at the development of (Gustav) Nyquist and the development of (Joakim) Andersson,” Holland said. “These players have to do the same things. They have to come through junior, college and Europe. They’ve got to get in the American Hockey League and then start all over again. They do it in the American Hockey League then they come up and they have to do it all over again.”
Nyquist and Andersson are just a few examples another one his Jimmy Howard.
“The process to get Jimmy Howard to the National Hockey League, we went through the same process 10 years ago,” Holland said. “He used to be at these tournaments and then he went to Grand Rapids. He was in Grand Rapids four years. He was in Grand Rapids so long a lot of people didn’t think he was any good. I think he’s one of the seven, eight best goalies in the game.
“I know how hard it is to pay in the National Hockey League and how much work and where you’ve got to get these players,” Holland added. “A lot of these players are coming along in a nice progression. We need more progression. Part of it is patience, part of it is maturity and part of it is going to next level and performing at the next level.”
The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau posted a fine "sidebar story" regarding Alexei Marchenko, who's just "making the jump" from the KHL to the AHL, having left CSKA Moscow to pursue the dream of making the NHL with the Red Wings...
"When you speak of coming to North America it is one thing, but when you feel it on the ice it’s another,” Marchenko said. “This camp just gives something to think about and something to work on. Now I know what to expect.”
Marchenko, who’s Team Lidstrom lost to Team Yzerman by a 7 to 1 margin in the camps intrasquad scrimmage Friday, was disappointed with his on-ice performance . The 6-foot-2, 183 pound defenseman did come out on top during the shootout as the only player to score in both rounds, but he was quick to shrug that off as luck due in part to bad ice.
“My game tonight was a little disappointing but it helped me understand what to expect,” he said. “The speed is tough here and the rink is small so you have to play some games to be ready for the speed. I have one more month to practice and now I know what to work on. ”
Marchenko also had a chance to join Grand Rapids for a week in April as the Griffins were making a push for the Calder Cup. Although he didn’t see any game action, the experience left a lasting impression on the young Russian.
“It was great to skate with Grand Rapids and feel the atmosphere and to get to know the organization,” he said. “They have a great team and it was very interesting and exciting for me to skate with them.”
Playing in the AHL will be a big change from the past four years spent in the KHL, but he’s been preparing for the transition by talking regularly with Red Wings Director of Player Development, Jiri Fischer. Marchenko also had a chance to meet and play along side Pavel Datsyuk during the lockout and that experience was something he will never forget.
“Pavel’s a great player and a great person,” he said. “He always talks to everyone and helps the young guys. He’s the first man in the gym in the morning and the last man who leaves the ice. Watching him makes me realize that I will have to work more than him to get to the next level.”
And Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski penned a feature story on Dane Walters, who I spoke with on Friday night. The outgoing Western Michigan University captain probably won't get an AHL deal from the Wings, but he put in an impressively gritty performance during the scrimmage, and he's just an incredibly mature young man who's treasuring his time working with the Red Wings organization:
“I’ve got to play for some really good coaches at Western,” the former Broncos captain said. “I’ve gotten to play for Blashill and under Andy Murray for two years and I’ve learned a lot from those guys.”
The 6-foot, 198-pound forward was thrilled with the chance to skate for the team located just three hours west of where he played in college.
“So far it’s been an honor, it’s an honor to be here,” he said. “Wherever you go, a hockey player’s a hockey player, everyone is a good guy for the most part and it’s just nice to get to know guys and to know that you fit in and you’re not totally out of place here.”
Despite just two on-ice practices and one scrimmage, Walters has learned a lot from the crop of coaches the Red Wings brought up to Traverse City. Those who have been on the ice this week include former Red Wings Chris Chelios, Tomas Holmstrom, and Jiri Fischer.
“It’s an awesome feeling and it’s an honor to be able to skate with those guys and to be able to share the ice with them,” Walters, who won the CCHA’s best defensive forward award last season, said.
Walters said the most important thing this week was “to always be a student of the game,” and so far is putting that to task.
“There’s always something new to learn and that’s what I’m going to take away from this week the most, just try to absorb as much knowledge as possible from these great coaches that are around and this great staff.”
- Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka penned a fine entry regarding Day 2 of the Wings' development camp, as well as the extended interview he and had with Ken Holland;
- As Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish notes in his recap of the scrimmage, Marc McNulty offered the most pleasantly surprising performance of any of the Wings' 2013 draft picks:
Marc McNulty the 6th round draft pick by the Red Wings showed a lot of promise during the game as well. When people see 6’6″ on the roster sheet the mind immediately wanders to big, gritty defensive defenseman, but McNulty is not going to be a defensive defenseman. During the Scrimmage McNulty was not only joining the rush, but was the player taking the puck into the zone. He has no qualms about pinching or being an offensive defesnseman, but he did have a few lapses on defense which led to goals.
- This may qualify as a "day late and a dollar short," but TheScout.ca sends us to an article from the Guelph Tribune about Guelph Storm forward, Wings draft pick and instigator Tyler Bertuzzi (and Dallas Stars pick Jason Dickson), though the article was penned 5 days ago by an uncredited author:
The biggest surprise, however, was scrappy Tyler Bertuzzi. He wasn’t even on the CSB’s radar at Christmas, but on draft day, the Detroit Red Wings called his name in the second round, 58th overall.
“He became a commodity,” said Storm VP and GM Mike Kelly. “After his performance in the playoffs (coach) Scott (Walker) and myself took more calls on him than anyone. It was apparent his stock was rising quickly. I would have projected him as a third round pick but I’m thrilled Detroit selected him where they did. That is quite a statement for a player who missed a good chunk of the season with a neck injury.”
Bertuzzi was Guelph’s best forward in their playoff series against Kitchener. He was tenacious, dangerous offensively and a general pain in the butt.
“There isn’t much argument about that,” said Kelly. “He showed good decision-making with the puck and when everything is on the line, he plays his best hockey, as he did last year in the playoffs.”
His uncle Todd has had a good run in Detroit and while they are a different type of player, with the elder Bertuzzi having a better scoring touch, they are both tough to play against.
- If you find yourself at the Hockey Hall of Fame this Wednesday, July 17th, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that the HOF's going to be engaging in a Red Wings-related giveaway:
Hey Red Wings’ fans, have you wanted to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, but have been putting off your trip?
Well, here’s your chance to visit along with other Red Wings’ fans and receive special discounts and half-price admission later this month.
The first 1,000 guests with paid admission on NHL Team Fan Days will also receive a free special Hall of Fame “Game-Worn Jersey” trading card from Upper Deck, and a chance to win other prizes, including a trip to watch the Red Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
On 30 selected days this summer, the Hockey Hall of Fame plans to spotlight a different NHL team with NHL Team Fan Days, including Wednesday, July 17 when they will salute Red Wings fans at hockey’s golden sanctuary.
Fans who wear Red Wings apparel on July 17 will receive half-price admission to the Hall for that day.
“We’re very excited. We haven’t done this before but we’ve been able to work with some of our partners like the NHL, the players’ association and Upper Deck to get these cards and hopefully the fans will appreciate them,” said Kelly Masse, the director of corporate and media relations at the Hall. “It’s really a way to get hockey fans into the Hall of Fame and the ones who haven’t been here can see what we’re all about.”
- Via RedWingsFeed, part 1:
The Jim Rome Show gets VERY antsy about people re-posting their audio, so you'll have to head over to their webpage to listen to what really is an excellent interview;
- Via RedWingsFeed, part 2:
So Stephen Weiss spoke with the Stouffville Sun-Tribune's Michael Hayakawa about joining the Wings--and getting married this weekend:
“It’s definitely an exciting time in my life. It seems like everything happens at once — free agency and marriage. It’s exciting,” Weiss said.
A first round pick, the fourth player chosen overall, in the 2001 NHL draft by the Florida Panthers and toiling with them for 10 seasons, Weiss couldn’t be happier with the raise in pay and to start a new chapter in his hockey career.
“It sure feels pretty good,” he said. “I’m definitely excited to be going to a team like Detroit.”
While several NHL clubs with cap salary space were rumoured to be seeking Weiss, he revealed it boiled down to going to the Red Wings or St. Louis Blues.
Now this is interesting: as it turns out, Weiss signed with the Wings in no small part because they were moving to the Eastern Conference...
“To be in the east was important,” the five-foot, 11-inch, 190-pound forward, said. “And to be close to home and to play in Toronto a couple of times a year in front of family and friends is always special. But watching Detroit and playing against them, I thought about what it would be like to play for them and I think it’ll be neat. At the end of the day it wasn’t that difficult a decision for me to make.”
Weiss also says that his surgically-repaired left wrist has healed...
“It’s been a long, slow process,” he said. “But I’ve been back on the ice and I’ve got plenty of zip back on my shot.”
And hes pumped up about starting a new chapter in his career:
“Detroit is one of the best organizations in the NHL where they compete in the playoffs regularly and to have a change of scenery could be good for me. It will definitely be a new challenge,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue that streak of making the playoffs and to take a deep run. That’s the Red Wings’ way,” he said.
Hockey fans can see Weiss take to the ice Aug. 22 when the third annual Hockey Night in Stouffville will takes place at the Stouffville Arena with funds going to the Markham Stouffville Hospital and the Stouffville Markham Girls Hockey Association. Weiss has been one of the first area NHLers to commit to play in the event every year.
- I appreciate the plug but have to disagree with its author here, and this is from SI's Allan Muir:
George Malik shares his impressions of the action at Detroit’s rookie development camp. You know who really should enjoy this? Dallas fans. It’s as much a preview of the riches to come for them now that their team employs Jim Nill and Joe McDonell as it is for Wings supporters who have some more immediate promise in their future.
Are Nill and McDonnell going to improve the Stars' drafting? There's no doubt there, none at all.
But what the Wings are doing this week has less to do with the players that Tyler Wright will have to help the team find than what Griffins caoch Jeff Blashill, assistant coaches Jim Paek and Spiros Anastas, Red Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick, Toledo Walleye assistant coach Dan Watson, Wings goaltending coach Jim Bedard, Wings and Griffins defenseman's mentor Chris Chelios, new power play/net front consultant Tomas Holmstrom, skill development coach Tomas Storm, power skating instructor Andy Weidenbach, and of course director of player development Jiri Fischer, Wings strength and conditioning coach Peter Renzetti, the trainers, the people who've been giving the players presentations regarding fitness, nutrition, yoga, etc., and all that Ken Holland, Kris Draper, Ryan Martin and the management staff invest in player development (and did I mention that Mike Babcock's here, too?).
Finding superb draft picks is the first part of the equation, and Anthony Mantha was one hell of a going-away present from McDonnell. But the reason the Wings have gotten so much better at turning draft picks into home-grown players over the last ten years has much more to do with their implementation of and a MASSIVE investment in a player development program that's yielded a significant improvement in ters of the percentage of picks who end up contributing at the pro level.
Yes, it's true that the Wings' front ofice faces its biggest challenge in the last fifteen years in attempting to fill Nill and McDonnell's voids by committee.
This team is going to face an incredibly difficult transition as Tyler Wright and Jeff Finley take over the scouting staff and attempt to replicate Nill and McDonnell's successes, but the vast majority of the scouting staff--including Hakan Andersson--remain in place, and its up to Wright to coordinate their movements and weigh in on their recommendations now, and it's up to Kris Draper and Ryan Martin to run the Griffins, get events like this summer development camp and the prospect tournament organized, and to keep all the octopus arms of the Wings' front office moving in unison.
But the players don't talk to me about how much they adored Jim Nill. They tell me that they love learning how to work out both hard and work out correctly while working with Peter Renzetti, how awesome it is to get input from Chelios and now Holmstrom, how helpful Bedard, Storm, Weidenbach, Blashill, Paek and McKittrick are, how neat it's been to take in all the extra information the Wings have provided them with regarding training, nutrition, rest and recovery, and the kinds of on-ice skill development that they know they'll have to pursue themselves as they refine their games and try to become better players, and they tell me that Jiri Fischer's kid of like the "prospects' dad," available whenever necessary on an in-person basis, regardless of where the players are all across the North American continent and in Europe.
You can draft the most highly-skilled 18-year-olds in the world, but if you don't have the infrastructure in place to educate and support those players as they take the long journey from player to prospect to professional, your odds of witnessing the development of their bodies, brains and skill sets intersect at the point that is proving that they deserve a spot on your team's 50-man roster...Those odds are quite low, and the Wings have tapped into their organization's history to provide modeling for its future.
If Nill can implement the same kind of system in Dallas, good for him, but I don't know if he has Chris Chelios, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, Chris Osgood or other former star players at his beck and call, or whether it's going to be easy (it probably won't) to build the player development machine that the Wings have established.
- And in the equally "fearless prediction" department," the Detroit News's John Niyo took a look at the Red Wings' Northeast-Type-Division foes, determined that the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres won't make the playoffs (as of mid-July, anyway), and he suggests that the Red Wings will face stiff competition from only the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and BostonBruins in terms of earning one of four divisional playoff spots during the 2013-2014 season:
[O]f the four playoff teams in the group, the two from Ontario both had their respective fan bases wailing at the start of free agency. That’s status quo for Toronto, of course, and hardly surprising after their first playoff trip in nearly a decade ended with an epic first-round collapse. But while the free-agent addition of David Clarkson should help, the price tag for him — and for re-signing Tyler Bozak — led to some significant losses elsewhere.
In Ottawa, meanwhile, they’re still mourning the loss of their heart-and-soul leader, ripped away by the Wings, of all teams. Daniel Alfredsson balked at another hometown discount and decided his last, best chance to win a Stanley Cup was in Detroit not Ottawa, where he’d spent the first 17 seasons of his NHL career.
Both teams finished with 56 points in the lockout-shortened regular season, and each got bounced in the second round of the playoffs. Yet while the Wings are back to spending up to the salary cap again, the Senators are about $15 million behind, hovering just above the salary floor in the league’s bottom five. And that’s where they’ll stay, most likely, as owner Eugene Melnyk, whose bid to build a casino at his arena was soundly defeated last week, claims his annual operating deficit is “staggering” and insists he’s out of options.
So while Mike Babcock’s second line now features Weiss, Alfredsson and, say, Johan Franzen, his former assistant, Paul MacLean, has a projected No. 2 group of Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Butler and Nick Foligno. And MacLean’s owner isn’t offering much hope that’ll improve, unlike in Detroit, where Mike Ilitch just announced plans to for his new downtown arena.
Toronto and Ottawa remain playoff contenders — it’s hard not to be in this league anymore — but I still see a big three fighting for division supremacy here.
Boston suffered some significant losses — inevitable for a team that’s been to two Cup Finals in the last three years — but they’re still among the NHL elite. Montreal hardly fits the supposed East prototype of a bruising club, but adding Danny Briere this summer only makes the Canadiens more dangerous. The Wings fit right in there with the veterans they’ve got and the young talent they’ve groomed, though as I keep saying, they need to trade some of those kids for a top-four defenseman if at all possible.
No one’s saying it’s going to be easy — certainly not the way it was for Detroit in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But all this talk of the big, bad East is a bit misleading. The West won five of the last seven Stanley Cups, losing the other two on Game 7 overtime goals, and it wasn’t by accident. Whatever the old West lacked in fighting spirit, it more than made up for in skill. As GM Ken Holland puts it, “If you have a good team, it’s a good team.” Detroit does, and though it’s not a great team, it should feel right at home in the East.
- And finally, as I need to get my butt up at 6 AM and face two more very busy days, I'm calling it a night early, so you'll have to wait until morning for the rest of the overnight news...
And I don't want this to come off sounding whiny, but it may:
I have never worked as hard as I have in terms of attempting to assess prospects or snag interviews as I have over the past four days, and I can only say that, as I look at a list of a dozen players and coaches, half of whom I'll be lucky enough to interview, that this has been an incredibly challenging camp in terms of attempting to make any sorts of estimations or observations about the prospects skating in Traverse City this week and weekend.
With Sunday's sessions cut down to morning-only practices, there's been 1 split session, and there will be a total of 3 morning practices, 1 split session and a scrimmage, for a total of 5 days of on-ice activities.
Every other year that I've been here--and it must be mentioned that this camp was cut short because the draft was held a week late thanks to the lockout, and that the imminence of Team Canada's World Junior selection camp at the end of this month, the U.S. camps at Lake Placid (the U.S. World Junior Selection Camp takes place with Finland and Sweden's top WJC-eligible prospects playing against them) and the plain old fact that we're less than two months removed from the start of the prospect tournament...
Every other year that I've been here, there were 4 days of morning-and-afternoon practices, 1 or 2 morning-only practices, a scrimmage and a day off for a total of 7 days' worth of on-ice activities.
Just as importantly, the "split sessions" involved the prospects working with Tomas Storm on skill development for 45 minutes, Andy Weidenbach on power skating for 45 minutes, and then 60 to sometimes as long as 90 minutes' worth of systems drills.
This time around, the players worked with Storm for 20 minutes, Weidenbach for 20 minutes, and they've done systems drills for 40 minutes.
There's between a third and a half less ice time with which to put my eyeballs to work (2 fewer days + 3 fewer 2-a-days + ice time being cut in half = holy schneikies!), and 2 fewer days = 4 fewer opportunities with which to head into the locker room to speak with everyone.
I feel like I owe you more and haven't been able to deliver to some extent, and maybe that's self-doubt talking, but all I can tell you is that I'm doing my best, and I hope that's enough.
With that, it's time to take a shower and go to bed. I despise, despise, despise early mornings, but I've got two to go and then, as much of an unbridled joy as this has been to cover, I get to go home, and after five days, I miss the little old ladies, my own bed and the Science Channel
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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.