The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/04/14 at 08:40 AM ET
The Red Wings' summer development camp begins today with a pair of practices taking place from 10 AM to noon at Centre Ice Arena ("Team Yzerman" practices from 10-11, and "Team Lidstrom" practices from 11-12), and the spotlight's already shining upon the players involved.
The camp's evolved to serve a specific purpose, as Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
“It’s an education into what it takes to be a pro hockey player,” Tyler Wright, director of amateur scouting for the Red Wings, said of the camp that runs today through Tuesday.
Included in the group are the two most recent first-round picks for the Red Wings, forwards Anthony Mantha (2013) and Waterford native Dylan Larkin (2014).
Also scheduled to attend are defenseman Alexey Marchenko (Grand Rapids), and forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (2013 second round), Andreas Athanasiou (2012 fourth round) and undrafted free agent Tomas Nosek.
Players are given introduction to proper workouts and nutrition and have an opportunity to build relationships.
“They get to learn about us, and what it takes to be a pro hockey player,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “For us, we get an opportunity to learn more about them.”
And MLive's Brendan Savage spoke Luke Glendening and Brian Lashoff about the importance of the camp in terms of jump-starting players' on-ice training:
"It's just a good experience, just to be around the guys you can be playing with in the near future," said Glendening, who attended the camp voluntarily last year and then played 56 games with the Red Wings during a breakout season.
"That was huge. It gives you a little bit of a leg up when you get out there. You have a good week and you can get out there and start training. Just get around the coaches, kind of learn from them as you go. Obviously it's just a week but it's a week you can learn a lot. You got to be a sponge. You got to soak it all in.
"First time I went it was huge. After my senior year (at Michigan) I went to Providence (of the AHL) and played a few games and felt like I was out of place. So when I went to development camp that summer and when I got to training camp I felt like I was ready to go."
"That camp is huge," [Lashoff] said. "For me, it kind of gave me an opportunity to get a contract and kind of work my way up. You get comfortable with the coaches and the systems and all that stuff before you go into main camp. You're more familiar with the way you got to play to be successful.
"I learned a lot. It's good camaraderie for the guys. (Tomas Tatar), Gus (Nyquist), all the guys played in that camp. We also grew up playing together in those games."
Savage continues, and it's important to note that some of the players who will be taking part have already started on-ice training, but others haven't skated since their hockey seasons ended in March or April.
European players' exhibition seasons begin in August, so the European prospects will have already been skating consistently, but Major Junior and NCAA players, like NHL'ers, don't tend to ramp up on-ice training until at least the middle of July, and if the players have had long playoff runs, like the Memorial Cup-participating Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, this will mark the first time that they've really skated since they took part in late-May hockey.
The rules aren't hard and fast, though, as Lashoff told Savage:
"You can't beat Traverse City in the summer time," Lashoff said. "It's kind of a little jump start for your summer. Usually you're skating by then but not as intense as that camp is. You leave that camp and you're in good skating shape and you carry that over and you're ready to go."
In terms of those in attendance both on and off the ice, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Wings' coach and general manager will be in attendance for at least part of the camp:
Forwards Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin, prized first-round picks from the last two NHL drafts, headline the team’s annual development camp in Traverse City, which runs today through Tuesday. Among those who will be watching closely, especially the scrimmages scheduled for Saturday and Tuesday, include Detroit general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock.
Forty-four players were invited, including forward Tyler Bertuzzi, a second-rounder from 2013 and nephew of former Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, and forward Dominic Turgeon, a third-rounder from this year’s draft and son of former NHL great Pierre Turgeon. There’s also Alexey Marchenko, a defenseman rated high on the prospect depth chart. Camp invitees include Dean Chelios, son of Chris Chelios, and Babcock’s son, Michael Babcock.
Jiri Fischer, the team’s director of player development, organized the event, which will see Grand Rapids Griffins coaches Jeff Blashill and Jim Paek run practices and scrimmages between the Yzerman and Lidstrom groups.
As you know, the "most important player taking part is this guy, and St. James' two-paragraph Mantha biography/scouting report (this is one; the other's longer and you'll have to read her article to get it) suggests that Mantha's at least being "talked up" as someone who should stand out at the camp...Which isn't always the case for players who are coming off of long playoff runs:
No player will be more closely watched than Mantha, who is turning pro after a stellar junior career with Val-d’Or of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Mantha was the Canadian Hockey League’s top scorer in 2013-14, producing 81 goals over 81 regular-season and playoff games. He had 120 points in 57 regular-season games, including hitting 50 goals for the second straight season, and he added 38 points in 24 playoff games.
In foreign-language news, I'm reminded of how important these camps are in terms of players stepping up and taking the lessons they've learned home with them by SlovenskoZijeHokejom.sk's note that Max Nicastro, who took part in last summer's camp and skated for the Toledo Walleye, has signed with Banska Bystrica of the Slovak Extraliga.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' "Alumni Tracker" states that Nicastro and Will Coetzee (he signed with HC Graz in Austria) have already signed overseas, and Gleason Fournier, Trevor Parkes, Nicastro and Coetzee were all "let go" when the Wings chose to not submit qualifying offers to retain their rights.
In terms of players who might get a little impatient with the learning curve, Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson had a particularly blunt conversation with Hockeysverige.se's Uffe Bodin regarding one Adam Almquist, and it sounds like the team was willing to let Almquist head to the KHL due to concerns that went beyond his lack of "size":
"He wanted us to roll out the red carpet"
He was one of the top point-earners among AHL defensemen. Yet Adam Almquist won't continue with the Detroit Red Wings organization. The 23-year-old chose instead to continue his career in the KHL.
"Adam will give you his reasoning, but he wanted us to roll out the red carpet and say, 'Please adam, come here, here, you get a one-way contract'" said Detroit scout Hakan Andersson to Hockeysverige.se.
Adam Almquist was a success in the AHL this past season. With 53 points (4 goals and 49 assists) in 73 games, he was the third highest-scoring defenseman points-wise in the league, and was named to the AHL's Second All-Star Team.
But despite the HV71 Jonkoping product's impressive performance and even his goal for the Detroit Red Wings in one of the two NHL games he played there last season, he won't continue his career with the organization. The other week he signed with Severstal Cherepovets, where he will be reunited with former HV71 teammate David Ullstrom.
A month ago, Almquist explained in an interview to Jonkopings-Posten that he wasn't interested in playing another season in the minor leagues. "I've played two seasons in the AHL, and now my goal isn't to play there again. It's not a bad league at all, but I feel and want to take new steps ahead," he said then.
Adam Almqvist was a success in the AHL last season. With 53 points (4 +49) in 73 games, he was the third highest hill points wise in the league and was ultimately part in the league's second all-star team.
Since the Red Wings did not offer him a one-way contract, the KHL became a natural choice for the defenseman. Detroit's Swedish scout, Hakan Andersson, was impressed by what Almquist has been able to accomplish, considering that it's difficult for defenseman of his size to earn a quick breakthrough to the NHL.
"Adam has done fantastically well. He was drafted as the second-to-last player in the 2009 draft, and he was named to the AHL's All-Star team and got two NHL games, it's amazing," says Andersson when Hockeysverige.se met him at the NHL draft in Philadelphia.
"But--and it's not anything Adam Almquist can do--he's 181 centimeters tall, and a little thin and with Europeans, you always need to prove yourself. Even once you get your foot completely in the NHL you'll constantly be challenged."
"It's there that I think Adam sent some signals that weren't quite as thorough as they should have been. Now I haven't been involved in the decision to not give him [an NHL contract], but I've heard how the thinking has gone, and we happen to have a few other defensemen who are doing well and look pretty good. I think that's how it played out," Andersson continues.
Hakan Andersson had hoped that Adam Almquist would give Detroit a season to really show that he was worthy of a one-way contract.
"Adam had perhaps been able to convince Detroit if he'd said, 'You know what? I'll take a one-year contract, and come more fit than ever and fight for a spot.' Then probably someone would've said, 'Wow, he really wants this,'" says Andersson.
"Adam will give you his reasoning, but he wanted us to roll out the red carpet and say, 'Please, Adam, come here, here's a one-way contract.'" Although he registered many points down in the AHL he hadn't convinced the management that this was the case.
Adam Almquist's contract with Severstal Cherepovets runs for the next two seasons. Hakan Andersson hopes that his time in the KHL will help Almquist take the next step so that he can earn another chance in the NHL.
"I hope for Adam's sake that he's damn good in the KHL, so that he gets a second chance in teh NHL. His hockey sense is enough to play in the NHL, that's certain."
Regarding a player who's already in the NHL, Tomas Tatar's website posted an interview with Tatar on July 30th, and Tatar expressed a wee bit of concern regarding the fact that he hadn't heard from the Red Wings regarding his qualifying offer, and the Slovak press ran with it. As such, Tatar's Facebook page posted something of a rebuttal (and what follows is very roughly-translated Slovak):
Hi, in recent weeks I've taken part in a lot of fun activities, and in particular, a lot of fun with great charity events. I'm sorry to those of you who've been told that there were too many autographs and I'm sorry that it didn't work for everybody. Regarding the reports about my new contract, the ignorance of some Slovak media might confuse you. They don't have great information, and in particular, don't know what is meant by a qualifying offer. We are at a stage of negotiations where things may stretch out for several weeks. We're looking for a way to accommodate both parties. The Red Wings' qualifying offer only means that I won't become a free agent. They had to offer it to me so that we can continue with negotiations. Otherwise I would've become a free agent. Thanks for attending all the events that you have.
And finally, if you want to read a Google-translated Russian interview in which Dominik Hasek speaks to Sovetsky Sport's Dmitry Nesterov regarding his status as a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee-to-be, the fate of his former Russian team, Spartak Moscow, and his new adventure into the soft drink business...Enjoy.
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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.