The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/05/14 at 06:51 AM ET
The Red Wings' summer development camp continues today with a set of simultaneous practices (from 9 to 9:45 AM) preceding a 3 PM scrimmage at Centre Ice Arena today, and both the fans and media were out in full force for the first day's activities.
Up North Live posted a first-day video in which Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin speak with the media...
The 9&10 News also posted a video...
And an accompanying story...
The camp features recent draft picks like Detroit's 2014 first rounder Dylan Larkin and last year's first round pick Anthony Mantha. There are also non-roster invitees like former Ferris State Bulldog Scott Czarnowczan.For the young talent, the camp acts an orientation to the Red Wings organization.
"They are teaching us good things like angling and they are going to teach us more good things tomorrow," Czarnowczan said. "I want to take some nutrition from them and the weightlifting and all that, just take it to the next level, learn and keep progressing."
It's also gives Red Wings fans their first in-person look at Larkin. The 17-year old plans to play for the University of Michigan this winter, but wants to show the Wings what he has to offer this summer.
"I bring skating ability and the pace I play," Larkin said. "I can push the pace and I really like to skate with the puck. They want me to keep developing and get stronger. To play at the next level you've got to get stronger. I was impressed with the intensity of the skate and it will be a good week here."
Even WXYZ posted a short clip...
And the Traverse City Record-Eagle's Chris Dolbrowski penned an article about Anthony Mantha:
The Red Wings’ top pick in the 2013 draft — he was the 20th overall pick — has aspirations of being on the team’s roster when Detroit during the 2014-15 season.
“I came here last year with that mentality (to win a spot),” said the 19-year-old Mantha. “I’ll come back to main camp with that same mentality. You want to be in the NHL one day in your life and as soon as it could come I’ll make every little step to get there. I think it’s just being calm, getting out there and doing what I should be doing. If I’m doing the right things I’ll get my chance. Not put any pressure on myself.”
Mantha is coming off a brilliant season for Val-d’or of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Michel Briere Memorial Trophy winner in 2014, giving to the Most Valuable Player of the QMJHL, Mantha led the league in scoring when he poured in 57 goals and 63 assists in 57 games for the Foreurs, who won the league’s championship and went on to play in the Memorial Cup. He also was named to the 2014 World Junior Championship All-Star Team after leading his Canada squad in scoring.
“I learned a lot,” Mantha said. “How to manage your time. How to manage (yourself physically and mentally). I think going out there was a great thing for me. A long playoff run. There were a few injuries, battled through and just being champions feels great.”
Among the many non-MSM folks in town for the summer camp, Slapshotgoal and Kyle McIlmurray from Winging it in Motown are here, and Slapshotgoal penned a day-1 wrap-up. I agree with SSG's assessment of Andreas Athanasiou--it's very evident that he's "slowed down" on purpose...
Andreas Athansiou is one of my favorite players to watch. His speed is unmatched, he's dynamic, and has great puck handling. His biggest weakness last year in camp was that he needed to learn better control. He has the wheels, but he'd sometimes lose the puck because he was too fast. What I saw today was better control, there's still plenty of room for improvement, but he's made progress. I watched him come from behind 3 other players who were all skating forward in the same direction as he was, and he blew past them like they weren't even moving. It looks like he frequently has to make a conscious effort to move slower so that he's not way too far ahead of his teammates of the puck. As an added bonus, he's not only a speed demon who has incredible offensive abilities, but he's also pretty good defensively as well. He has the potential to be a dynamic two way forward with high offensive potential.
But there was definitely something lost in translation, at least at the start, for Tomas Nosek:
Tomas Nosek looked hesitant and a little confused to start. While Blashill was at the white board drawing up the first drill, Richard Nedomlel, a fellow Czech, was translating and explaining to Tomas what they were going to do. After a few times through the drills however, Nosek became a little more comfortable and made some great offensive moves. Time will tell, but he appears to have some great offensive abilities and slick moves with the puck.
There was one conspicuous absence on Friday, and the Free Press's Helene St. James profiles him today. Alexey Marchenko didn't skate yesterday, but the Wings are hoping that a solid summer showing allows Marchenko--who St. James duly notes is a right-shooting defender--rebound from a season-ending ankle injury:
Marchenko, 22, was an American Hockey League All-Star this past season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, a high point that unfortunately segued shortly afterward into season-ending surgery following a high-ankle sprain.
The 2013-14 season was Marchenko’s first in North America, after he rose through the hockey ranks in his native Russia to join the Kontinental Hockey League’s CSKA Moscow, from part time in 2009 to full time in 2012-13. He made an appearance with the Wings in January, topping 13 minutes, drawing a penalty and finishing plus-2 in a 5-1 victory at Dallas.
The Wings drafted Marchenko in 2011, all the way in the seventh round, at 205th overall. At that stage it’s a blind gamble whether a player ever will make it to the NHL, but Marchenko’s assets include size (he’s 6-foot-2, 210-plus pounds) and an aggressive style. He can move the puck, and had good numbers at the junior level, but at the pro level he’s more likely to serve as a shut-down guy. He shoots right, something the Wings badly need on their back end.
Marchenko’s biggest issue is health — he’s missed considerable time because of knee and ankle injuries. (Trivia tidbit: Marchenko has something in common with Hall-of-Fame forward Peter Forsberg and former Wings defenseman Fredrik Olausson — all three have had their spleens removed).
Along the "Griffins players who could possibly help the Red Wings" line of thought, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness posited a column last night which discusses whether the Wings will need to make a trade to improve their blueline, or whether they can find improvement from within...
Detroit could also try and trade for a right-handed defensemen – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, Edmonton’s Jeff Petry or Toronto’s Cody Franson – but the asking price is most likely quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco. Arizona’s Keith Yandle, who’s a left-handed shot, is also rumored to be on the trading block.
The solution could simply be within the organization with Ryan Sproul and Alexey Marchenko, who are both right-handed shots and could push for a job in training camp. Both finished their first season with the Griffins and both got to play one game with the Wings.
Sproul had 11 goals and 21 assists in 72 games with the Griffins last season, while Marchenko had three goals and 15 assists in 49 games.
Marchenko, who general manager Ken Holland likened to Brad Stuart, was higher than Sproul in the pecking order last season before season-ending ankle surgery.
The other two blue line prospects in Grand Rapids are lefties Xavier Ouellet and Mattias Backman. Ouellet, who did replace Kindl in the lineup for Game 5 against Boston, is a stay-at-home defenseman that can move the puck well. He also appeared in four regular season games last year.
Nick Jensen isn't mentioned by Pleiness, but it's possible that Jensen could be in the mix by the middle of the upcoming season. Jensen missed the first half of the season after injuring his shoulder up here in Traverse City, scrapping with Tyler Bertuzzi, but Jensen managed to return to Grand Rapids' lineup in December, playing 45 games and registering 9 assists.
He's 23 going on 24, and the Saint Cloud Times' Mick Hatten reports that Jensen's training with fellow Saint Cloud State University alums Ben Hankowski and Nic Dowd in Edina, MN.
In foreign-language news...Hakan Andersson and Mattias Backman spoke with Hockeysverige.se's Uffe Bodin regarding the turning-North-American Pro's progress, and if I wasn't almost late for the rink, I'd translate it...But you're going to have to deal with Google garble until I get there:
The Swede praised by Mike Babcock as, "A real hockey MVP"
The season for Linkoping had a sad end in the SHL semifinal against Skelleftea. So Mattias Backman went to North America to begin his hunt for an NHL job. And the time spent in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins couldn't have started better for the defenseman.
"Mike Babcock called and is very excited about Matthias," Detroit Red Wings scout Hakan Andersson tells Hockeysverige.se.
Adam Almquist's left the Detroit Red Wings organization to play in the KHL. But the team has already found a replacement in Linkopings HC defenseman Mattias Backman, who may eventually play a key role for the team.
At the end of last seasn, after Linkoping was eliminated from the SHL semfinal against Skelleftea, Backman headed over to North America to test his game in the AHL with Detroit's farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins. It went way beyond expectations, so well that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock took a significant liking to the 21-year-old from Ostgoten.
"He played great for us in the playoffs. It was even the case that Mike Babcock called me and said, 'Backman! You must make sure that he trains well, he's a real hockey player,' says the Swedish scout Hakan Andersson to Hockeysverige.se.
"Mike thinks he just needs muscle mass, so it's important for his training this summer. He thinks a lot of him and was very excited after seeing him play. It's great for both Mattias and us. There are high hopes for him."
Mattias Backman's happy when he's informed of the impression he's made on the Red Wings' head coach..
"I'm glad to hear such praise from the coach. I don't know if it will help me when I come over to the camp in the fall, but it's good to have made a good first impression," he says.
The LHC product played 2 regular season games in the AHL and then 10 playoff games before the playoff run ended for Grand Rapids. In the playoffs, he had a goal and a total of 6 points. With that, he was among the best-scoring Grand Rapids defenders.
"I really went over without any expectations. I just wanted to test how it would feel. It went really well and was informative. I gained a lot of confidence and played on the first power play unit."
Mattias Backman believes that his spring sojourn in Michigan might facilitate his adjustment to life in North America when he returns in the fall. He's been given insight into how AHL life works and how the game differs. He dreams of playing in NHL games this fall, but realies that games in the AHL aren't a bad thing, either.
"Obviously the goal is to grab a spot with Detroit, otherwise there's no reason to goover. But I have to be realistic, too, and realize that the competition is very tough. If you have too high expectation, it's easy to be disappointed," says Backman.
Hakan Andersson believes that it's useful for Mattias Backman to acclimitize in the AHL before getting ready for his NHL debut.
"Mattias is the kind of defenseman that won't be playing in the seventh spot up there. If he doesn't play up there, they'll have him on the farm team, it's as simple as that. He should play or it's better that he's responsible down there and learns thesmall rinks," says Andersson.
There's also the part about becoming stronger, that Mike Babcock was talking about. Mattias Backman's at 80 kilograms (176 punds), but the goal is to get up to 85-86 kilos later in his career (185-190 pounds). For most people, it's easy to gain wait, but not for Backman.
"That I have to gain wait, I've heard that since I was ten years old," he laughs. "I've always had a hard time putting on weight, but in recent years I've tried to not focus on it or see it as something negative. I just practice eating as much as possible. Sometime it should happen."
Mattias Backman describes his metabolism as "huge" and laughs at the fact that he can at least eat whatever he wants without putting himself in a bad place. While he notes that weight and strength do not go hand in hand:
"That's what I've talked about with Detroit, the pounds don't matter so much, and that weight is overrated. It's strength that counts, and I will work hard to get better there."
As the season was so long he'll skip the Red Wings' summer development camp this July. Instead, he will take part in the team's rookie tournament in Traverse City in early September. Mattias Backman will then move to North America to take part in a real adventure.
"I've always lived here and played here in Linkoping. It will be fun to see something new and experience a different culture. It's a challenge when you don't havefriends and relatives nearby."
Andersson's comments to Hockeysverige.se's Bodin regarding Adam Almquist's decision to go to the KHL didn't go over particularly well with Almquist's agent.
Aftonbladet's Erik Karlsson took note of the fact that Almquist's agent, Patrik Aronsson told Jonkopings Posten that Andersson's comments were off-base:
"I think that's a low opinion for Hakan. Adam Hasn't whined once, won a championship on the farm team, and was one of the league's best defensemen for the past two seasons," says Aronsson, and continues: "He enjoyed great success in Detroit, but Adam has every right to find the choices that he thinks are best for himself. Hakan suggesting that they had to roll out the red carpet as thanks for Adam's time, as I said, is a low level in my opinion."
According to Allhockey.ru, Pavel Datsyuk's Tweet from Sochi yesterday involved Datsyuk and Minister of Sport, Vitaly Mutko, attending the opening of a children's sports center in Sochi:
Otherwise, Twitter was man-meaty last night (bleh)...
With a side of, "Aww":
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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.