The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/30/13 at 10:24 AM ET
During every summer development camp and fall prospect tournament, there are moments where those who have the privilege of speaking with the players hope that we've got good poker faces.
The phenomenon tends to take place more than not during the summer development camp, but it occasionally happens during the prospect tournament or main camp, and while it's sort of an unwritten rule that every non-roster player harbors the same goal, when they say the magic phrase, regardless of whether they're a first-round pick or a seventh-rounder, an invited try-out or someone who's signed an entry-level deal, you really want to raise an eyebrow and say, "So you're new here..." but that would be unprofessional.
Anthony Mantha led the brigade of players who were only competing against 30 other prospects in July when he stated that his first goal for this upcoming season is to "make the Red Wings'" roster, and the vast majority of the Wings' 18-and-19-year-old prospects repeated that wince-inducing remark--in no small part because some of the summer development campers weren't able to take part in a prospect tournament because of last season's lockout.
The "older" prospects, the ones who've taken part in prospect tournaments against seven other teams' worth of players, and especially those who've taken part in main camps, understand how hard it really is to "make the team," and if they ever make the, "I want to make the team" quip, they make sure to qualify that remark with observations regarding how difficult that would be and how they understand what a long road they're trying to embark upon as they attempt to either earn contracts, turn pro or take part in their second, third or fourth professional seasons.
Following the team and understanding how hard even the Brendan Smiths, Niklas Kronwalls and Jimmy Howards had to work to climb the developmental ladder, and how long the process took, but seeing the somewhat innocent brashness and enthusiasm with which the younger players make their, "I want to make the team" comments, the last thing you want to do is to suggest that they have no frickin' clue what they're saying, but they really don't.
So MLive's Brendan Savage led his empty-out-the-notebook story about 2013 1st round draft pick Anthony Mantha by noting that, yes indeedy, Mantha plans on making the team--though Mantha did at least qualify his remarks...
"I came here with a positive thinking trying to make the team because that's what every hockey player wants to do," Mantha, the 20th overall pick in this year's NHL entry draft, said at the club's annual Development Camp. "If it's not this year, then the next year I'll come back with the same thinking of trying to make the team. And If not, I'll go back to junior and have my best season yet. I'll try doing my best to come back to the next camp and try to make the AHL or the NHL the year after. It's really a process of growing up right now and it's a great moment."
So it's the NHL or bust this season?
"For sure it is," Mantha said. "If you go around the room and ask every player, I'm not sure there's one that will tell you that's not their goal."
But this kind of makes me cringe, too:
Mantha is obviously not short of confidence. Then again, why should he be? He was the only 50-goal scorer in this year's NHL draft after leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 50 goals among 89 points in 67 games for Val d'Or. It's easy to see what the Red Wings like about Mantha, who is 6-foot-4, 190 pounds.
"I score lots of goals," he said. "I'm a good (penalty killer) and power-play guy."
Those statements are true, but Mantha also at least had "the talk" with the team's management during the summer development camp, and--as Savage notes--Martin Lapointe's the last first-rounder (10th overall in 1991) who made the team during his draft year, yielding an incredibly unlikely scenario given the Wings' develompent plan:
"For them, it's a slow pattern," said Mantha, who will turn 19 during Red Wings training camp. "They want guys at 20 in the AHL. Play a year or two in the AHL and then go up to the NHL the year after. That's great to know. I'm just focusing on that right now."
Mantha is considered a strong skater who has an outstanding shot with an obvious nose for the net. But his consistency, effort and intensity level have been questioned by critics.
"It is fair," Mantha admitted. "This year, I worked on it and it wasn't perfect. Every hockey player is not perfect and I'm working really hard on it right now. It's going the right way. It's really my 'compete level' every day (that needs improving). Being intense, winning my one-on-one battles."
Mantha didn't exactly float, but there were definitely times that he looked more like he was 6'4" and 170 pounds both on the ice and off the ice, especially after he'd lost some "water weight" over the course of practices and especially the scrimmage, and he was inconsistent in terms of his shift-to-shift "compete level."
Is it possible that Mantha could make the Wings' roster? Sure. Is his enthusiasm and gumption admirable? Sure. But it's still an incredibly unlikely scenario, and it still makes me wince every time I hear a prospect say it.
In other news of prospect-related note, it just so happens that RedWingsCamps is holding a Twitter giveaway contest today...
In the fantasy and/or statistical chatter department, NHL.com's Pete Jensen suggests that Gustav Nyquist's playoff performance may indicate that Nyquist's a sound investment for fantasy hockey poolies...
Gustav Nyquist, F, Detroit Red Wings
Nyquist, drafted in the fourth round by Detroit in 2008, looks to be a steal based on his playoff heroics in 2013 (two goals, three assists, plus-3, one power-play goal, one game-winning goal) -- and fantasy owners could reap the benefits from adding him as early as this season. Nyquist, currently a restricted free agent, should be back in the fold come training camp. If he and the Wings agree to terms, he'll likely be in the mix for second-line duty. Valtteri Filppula signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner remain unsigned, leaving spots available. The team did bring in Stephen Weiss, who is coming off an injury, and 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson, but the team also could opt to prioritize Nyquist's development by giving him a featured role. If injuries mount, Nyquist will be in prime position to take the next step.
And NHL.com's John Kreiser both reviewed the "first eight years" (shudder) of the shootout and mentioned that a certain Wing happens to have excelled while performing during the game-deciding skills competition:
Pavel Datsyuk -- No player in the eight-year history of the shootout has been successful more times than Datsyuk, who has 33 goals on 72 shots for a 45.8-percent success rate. But if style points were awarded, the Detroit Red Wings center would lap the field. He is among the most entertaining players in shootout history, and neither the opposing goaltender nor the fans in the stands know what move he'll try next. The term "Datsyukian deke" has taken its place in hockey's lexicon largely because of his variety of shootout moves.
Via RedWingsFeed, part 2: The Wings' YouTube channel's posted oodles of highlights and interivews over the past week, and while they've only posted two goals this morning, they're a pair of Henrik Zetterberg goals that happened to seal the deal in securing the Wings' 22nd consecutive playoff appearance:
And finally, for the moment, anyway, I happened to look up the Wings' dates for their fall prospect tournament and main camp, and my jaw dropped when I realized that the tournament starts on September 4th, and training camp doesn't end until the SEVENTEENTH.
I think I'm going to have to pull out the Paypal button a little early as, even at fall as opposed to summertime rates, I'm going to be paying a big chunk of change for at least 13 days spent in a hotel and the accompanying food and gas that will be required. I really don't know how I'll be able to swing that kind of trip. :/ My straight-laced friend Mark's bachelor party is slated to take place in Nashville so he can eat barbecue and visit Civil War battlefields, but there's no way in hell that I can afford to go given that I really do operate on an all-but-literal shoestring budget here. I've got to save whatever I've got to try and get to camp without incurring too much of a loss.
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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.