The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/04/14 at 06:07 PM ET
If I had any worries about the Red Wings' summer development camp's comparative lack of ice time when examining previous camps, today's, "Getting to know you" skate alleviated my concerns, and they did so for one reason: Jeff Frickin' Blashill.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' coach spent about 55 minutes with Teams Yzerman and Lidstrom today, and the amount of instruction involved, as well as the pace at which the practices were conducted, yielded the hockey version of "immersion language learning."
Blashill and his numerous assistants (Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek, Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick, Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde, Walleye assistant coach Dan Watson, RPI coach Seth Appert and goalie coach Jim Bedard and his assistant) made it very clear that they were willing to stop drills to "get it right" as opposed to chastising players, but the pace and intensity of the drills took some players by surprise, and required some very conscious modeling by those who were first in line (cue the reasuring, "Anthony [Mantha] knows where to go!").
The pace was downright Babcockian, and judging by the amount of huffing and puffing by red-faced players during the 45-second water breaks, it worked.
Again, I'm not the only act in town. The rink was half-full for both practices and both the Wings and Fox Sports Detroit are "embedded" with the prospects...
Michelle and Kyle McIlmurray from Winging it in Motown...
And Hooked on Hockey's Kevin Sporka are all in attendance:
It should be noted that Alexey Marchenko did not skate, Mike McKee was used as a defenseman as a result, and the second practice, for reasons beyond me, didn't separate the defensemen into black jerseys (the usual split is a "red" forward unit, a "white" forward unit and defensemen in black).
Also: Dylan Larkin may be here on his own dime, but amidst a bunch of youngsters using CCM gear, Larkin's got a Bauer helmet, gloves and stick. The NCAA-playing prospects and try-outs have to literally give their equipment back at the end of the camp to retain their college-playing eligibility.
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff took note of the "family ties" aspect of this particular crop of young campers...
Tyler Bertuzzi, a 2014 OHL Champion with the Guelph Storm and nephew of Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi;
Dominic Turgeon, Detroit’s second choice in last weekend’s draft and son of former NHL centre Pierre Turgeon;
Also invited to camp are the sons of Wings coach Mike Babcock (Michael Jr.) and Wings advisor to hockey operations Chris Chelios (Dean), as well as Colgate forward Kyle Baun, grandson of former Red Wings defenceman and longtime Toronto Maple Leaf Bob Baun, whose famous overtime goal scored against the Wings in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup final while skating on a fractured ankle helped the Leafs beat Detroit for the title, and Owen Sound forward Zach Nastasiuk, son of former Toronto Argonaut Paul Nastasiuk.
There weren't "lines" per se, but for the first part of Team Yzerman's day, Larkin and Mantha did tend to do drills together.
In terms of the teams, they break down as follows:
84 Kyle Baun*
85 Cole Bardreau*
24 Dean Chelios*
37 Mark Cooper*
45 Alex Globke*
17 Hayden Hodgson*
96 Axel Holmstrom
80 David Johnstone*
25 Dylan Larkin
39 Anthony Mantha
83 Luke Sandler*
94 Julius Vahatalo
94 Kevin Clare*
75 James De Haas
27 Joe Hicketts*
47 Alexey Marchenko
58 Mike McKee
74 Marc McNulty
31 Jared Coreau
68 Andrew D'Agostini*
72 Andreas Athanasiou
81 Michael Babcock
59 Tyler Bertuzzi
86 Blake Clarke*
92 Christoffer Ehn
76 Darby Llewellyn*
69 Zach Nastasiuk
63 David Pope
22 Brandon Robinson*
67 Tylor Spink*
73 Tyson Spink*
78 Dominic Turgeon
95 Scott Cznarowczan*
46 Trevor Hamilton*
51 Ben Marshall
77 Richard Nedomlel
64 Ryan Obuchowski*
79 Logan Schmidt*
53 Nick Zotl*
36 Jake Paterson
38 Lucas Peressini*
All of the players with asterisks next to their names are try-outs, as noted by the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau; she also has the players' respective team affiliations listed, and if you don't know about tomorrow's activities, here's the schedule:
9:00 am – 9:45 am Team Yzerman and Team Lidstrom Practice
3:00 pm Team Yzerman and Team Lidstrom Scrimmage
5:00 pm Off ice workouts
The Free Press's Helene St. James reported that Mike Babcock and Ken Holland will be watching Saturday's scrimmage, and as Cherry Capital airport now accommodates larger flights, I believe that there's a flight to and from Detroit at least twice a day, so the Wings' execs will come and go. Jiri Fischer, Ryan Martin and Kris Draper appear to be up here for the duration of the camp, whose balance of work, per Sarah, breaks down like this:
9:00 am – 9:45 am Team Yzerman Practice
10:00 am Team Lidstrom skating
10:00 am Team Yzerman skills
10:25 am Team Lidstrom skills
10:25 am Team Yzerman skating
11:00 am – 11:45 am Team Lidstrom practice
8:45 am – 9:30 am Team Yzerman off ice work out
9:00 am – 9:45 am Team Lidstrom practice
10:00 am Team Yzerman skating
10:00 am Team Lidstrom skills
10:25 am Team Yzerman skills
10:25 Team Lidstrom skating
11:00 – 11:45 am Team Yzerman practice
11:00 am Team Lidstrom off ice workout
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm 2014 Training Camp in-person ticket sale
11:00 am Team Yzerman and Team Lidstrom Scrimmage
12:00 pm 2014 Training Camp Fax Ticket Sale begins
Why does Centre Ice Arena do things in-person or via fax instead of switching over to email or Ticketmaster? Because the same people have been coming and sitting in the same seats at Centre Ice Arena from as far back as 1997. While it is a bit of a pain in the butt to haul tail up to TC or do to things via Ye Olde Fax, it cuts down on the number of people selling stuff on eBay and it allows people who've been planning their vacations (or volunteer time) around the camp for extended periods of time to not place their hopes upon the fickle finger of the interweb.
Anyway, regarding today's sessions...Between having to miss part of Team Lidstrom's practice for interviews and the fact that so many of these players are "new guys" (23 try-outs, 5 first-time draft pick attendees and Tomas Nosek), what I'm about to write is all very "preliminary," and between the super-short interview times and shorter on-ice activities, it's going to be incredibly challenging to come up with an, "Aha" on everybody.
- In terms of the drills that both teams participated in, and very specifically regarding the goalies:
Prior to the player skate, I was able to watch Jared Coreau and Matt D'Agostini of Team Yzerman take part in abut 20 minutes' worth of goalie drills with Jim Bedard. From zig-zag V-push-A-push-V-push-A-push stand-up pushes along the blueline to diagonal slides from the blueline to the top of the faceoff dots, "horseshoe"-style drills in which the goalies either had to skate to each "corner" of the "C" standing up, dropping into the butterfly, t-pushing (i.e. making a sideways "T" in which one's trailing leg "pushes off"), to what's become a favorite of mine in, "Ditch the stick, stand in front of the half boards and let us fire pucks into your toes to warm your legs up" and some subtle "square-up-your-shoulders" drills, Coreau and D'Agostini got a workout before they faced any shots.
I wasn't able to see Lucas Peressini or Jake Paterson (decked out in fancy CCM Retro-Flex pads, almost all white) do their drills, but they preceded Team Lidstrom onto the ice.
Coreau, still using last year's catch glove and blocker, is a very fluid skater for someone who's 6'5" and 235 pounds, and he's much more mobile than the goaltender who wasn't able to take shots to his glove last summer; D'Agostini, who plays for Peterborough, is all of 5'11" and 180 pounds, but he actually ends up digging in more than Coreau does to push his smaller mass around.
Conversely, Coreau tends to be a fantastic first-shot goaltender, but his lateral mobility isn't fantastic, and if you get him off his angle, he can be beaten; D'Agostini is a little waterbug in the net, and while there are "holes" in the corners, he's a second-and-third-shot battler.
From very limited viewing, Paterson looks like he's standing up more (Paterson would go down into the butterfly if you sneezed at him), and both he and Coreau look to have put on a good ten or fifteen pounds of muscle; Peressini, who plays for the Kingston Frontenacs, looked almost casual at times, but let's just say that Team Lidstrom doesn't have Team Yzerman's firepower.
- In terms of the drills both teams participated in, specifically regarding the skaters:
From the moment Jeff Blashill yelled, "Right here!" at 10:02 AM, Team Yzerman got to work in a hurry.
Blashill's drills have a familiar feel to them, at least to me: he starts with a set of drills where a coach dumps the puck in to a goaltender at one end of the ice (Centre Ice is situated north-south, so Coreau was in the south net and D'Agostini was in the north net today), and the goaltender comes out of his net, plays it to two attackers who've skated in from a repository of players at center ice, and they roar up either the left or right wing, passing the puck and going in on a 2-on-0.
The drill almost immediately incorporates a defenseman who "starts" the drill and skates up slowly as the forwards pass to each other; then the defenseman's asked to "gap up," and within an iteration, you've got one forward peeling off Filppula-style at the half boards to feed the defenseman for a shot as one forward goes to the front of the net. A 2-on-0 becomes a 3-on-0 becomes a point-shot-and-screen drill, all with various requests for the attackers to pass to each other at the near blueline, the far blueline or to skate up together and do what they feel like doing.
After a short stretch--and the stretches had no leaders today--the whole 3-on-0 drill becomes a 2-on-1, with a pass-out from a coach below the goal line taken by a "north" defensemen who passes to "southbound" forwards, and as those forwards skate toward a "south" defenseman who's retrieved a dump-in of his own, the "south" defenseman and the "north" defenseman become defenders on a 2-on-1 attempt.
Blashill got a little aggravated with the forwards staying too far back and disrupting the coaches setting up the "outlets," and so he told them to stop at the hash marks.
The drill would shift from a straight outlet pass "up the middle" of the one-side-of-center wing lane to a pass to the forward along the boards.
Change the defenseman's role to that of a "lurker," with a coach at the one blueline sending the puck into forwards standing at the "far" blueline, with a defenseman already ready to take a point shot as the forwards screen the goalie, and you've got very different kind of chip-and-chase drill.
Twenty minutes in, the forwards and defensemen were grouped together, and after taking a long pass from the far blueline and exchanging passes as they skated back toward the pass-generating coach, the "forwards" would become enemies and have to battle each other one-on-one all the way to the net.
There were more than a few tumbles here in both groups, and during the second group's attempt to master this one, Andreas Athanasiou very narrowly avoided going all the way into the goalpost between-the-legs first.
Blashill made a point that getting on the right angle against an opponent was essential, "especially on bad ice" (it's July), and he was emphatic about the fact that players who weren't skating with their stick on the ice would find themselves cut off from pucks in a hurry.
Then the drill was turned on its head, with the forwards skating up ice as teammates, passing to the coach at the blueline, and the forwards would then peel off and try to tip and/or defend against a point shot.
At one point, Mantha, who was quiet as a peep last summer, yelled: “You cut me off" to try and explain what the "defending" forward was supposed to do.
I can only describe the next drill as a "whirlpool," because it was a one-on-one drill where players would race each other counter-clockwise prior to one player either accepting a pass from a coach just inside the blueline on the other side of the "whirlpool's" start or chasing after a dump-in, with skaters facing off in a one-on-one battle in an attempt to score.
My favorite drill doesn't last for long, but I like to call it "street hockey," because both nets are placed along the half boards at one end of the rink, both goalies are used and teams have to take dump-ins from coaches and either score or clear the zone, whichever comes first (or whichever the coach prefers), playing 3-on-3 hockey. In this case defensemen and forwards intermixed, so you could have three defensemen battling three defensemen.
Then the players sat on the benches, and, depending on what the coach wanted, 1 to 3 players would have to skitter off of each bench as Jim Paek would say, "2 on 2," "3 on 2," "3 on 3," "3 on 1," etc, and Paek literally tossed the puck into the north or south end of the ice and arbitrarily started the drill. I'd never seen that before, and I thought it was particularly fascinating because the players really didn't know what situation they were getting into until...They got into it. It kept them on their toes and then some.
That was about 55 minutes' worth of drills, and at the end of the set thereof, the teams had one more leader-less stretch and got off the ice.
I was able to talk to several of them, per the audio post, and in terms of my initial impressions:
84 Kyle Baun: I'm shrugging my shoulders here. I know that the Colgate forward is 6'2," I know that he centers Tyson (who shoots left) and Tylor Spink (who shoots right), and he does indeed have some pace to his game, but pace and speed are all I really saw. Maybe he was out of his comfort zone given that Tyson and Tylor were placed on the other team.
85 Cole Bardreau: Cole's not big at 5'10" and 187 pounds, and Cole's not had a great three seasons at Cornell, but he turned and burned like nobody's business on the first day. He was incredibly fast playing alongside Mantha, Larkin or whoever he skated with, and he looked like somebody shot him out of a cannon.
24 Dean Chelios: Dean's always had superb playmaking abilities and he's always been fast, but he's also always been built as scrawnily as his father. This is the first time I've seen Dean look "big" in terms of the core of his body, and after a few games played with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, he's finally 6'2" and over 180 pounds. I don't know whether he's going to be a pro player over the long haul, but he fits in seamlessly in the skill drills.
37 Mark Cooper: I just didn't see much of the 6'2" Bowling Green forward. He didn't stand out.
45 Alex Globke: Globke had 31 points in 36 games for Lake Superior State this past season, and this is the first time I've seen him play--and my eyes were on other players--but he displayed some oomph, some jam, some pop and good hands.
17 Hayden Hodgson: I was intrigued by the Sarnia Sting forward's status as something of a two-sport star, but I didn't see anything that stood out save his status as a right-shooting forward.
96 Axel Holmstrom: Very, very, very initial perception? They gave him #96 for a reason. His strides are chip-chop-choppy as can be, and he'll have that stick waggling at waist-height trying to get more momentum out of his strides, just like Tomas Holmstrom. Otherwise, he reminds me of last summer's and fall's prospect try-out, Barclay Goodrow, who earned a contract with the San Jose Sharks. Goodrow was a "power center," the kind of player that skated up the middle of the ice from his own goal crease to the opponent's goal crease, and Axel likes to chug right up the gut and pass or score while driving hard up the middle and hard to the net.
80 David Johnstone: I was told that the 23-year-old Michigan Tech forward's hands were the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I didn't see that on the first day. Speed? Yes. Hands? Not so much.
25 Dylan Larkin: Again, very initially: Larkin is going to annoy people much more than one might think. He skates quite well, he's got OK strength given his age and his passing and shooting skills are those befitting a 15th-overall draft pick (read: he's a very skilled player, all-around), but he really likes to dig for rebounds at the side of the crease and really doesn't like to give up on pucks until they're in the back of the net. My early impression is that he's got a little more snarl in there than you might think.
39 Anthony Mantha: Much bigger in terms of going from about 190 pounds to a good 210, all up the middle like a tree trunk. Much more assertive, more confident by leaps and bounds, enthusiastic, vocal, and yeah, he can plow up and down the ice and pass pass pass and snipe snipe snipe. But he didn't necessarily look like a man amongst boys to me. He looked a world away from the Mantha I saw last summer, and he looked like the player who scored 57 goals in 57 games for Val-d'Or. He also sounded like someone who's riding that fine line between comfortable in his own skin and a little cocky (he and Larkin are alike in that regard). But a first-day viewing wouldn't suggest that he's ready to step in and steal an NHL player's job just yet. He was fantastic in terms of detail work and general work ethic, but he's still 19 going on 20.
83 Luke Sandler: Sometimes the 6'1," 202-pound BCHL grad looked like a player who was a defensive dynamo and something of a pain in the physical side, and sometimes he didn't.
94 Julius Vahatalo: Julius Vahatalo and Christoffer Ehn represent where the Wings have come from in terms of drafting "longshot" prospects. The Wings used to go after the Adam Almquists and Jesper Samuelssons of the world, little, skinny guys with heart in undersized bodies. Vahatalo, who's a very good skater and at least looks like he's been playing some men's league games with TPS Turku's Finnish Liiga team, is 6'5" and 191 pounds. Big. Skilled. Has a lot of tools but no toolbox. The big part was never there before.
94 Kevin Clare: Clare's all of 22 and has played 4 seasons for the University of Michigan, he's big at 6'1" and 210 pounds, and he looked like a physical player out there, but he wasn't dominant.
75 James De Haas: De Haas is hard to figure out because he's built like a moose. De Haas just finished his freshman season with Cornell, he's long and lean despite being 6'3" and 205 pounds, but he's kind of top-heavy, and while his skating is really superb for someone who's just naturally gotten bigger and taller and heavier over the past two years, he looks like a European player--built up in the shoulders and chest but a little lacking in the core and legs. As such he can really lean into guys if he's got them on the right angle, but he can also be blown by
27 Joe Hicketts: 5'8," 186 pounds, played for Victoria in the WHL, held his own despite his lack of size.
47 Alexey Marchenko: He did not play and I do not know why. I will try to find out on Saturday.
58 Mike McKee: McKee was supposed to be used as a forward at Western Michigan, but he's suited up wearing a defenseman's black jersey here, and he looks like what he is--gigantic and heavy at 6'5" and 250 pounds, but almost trying to hold back in the skill drills so that he doesn't kill anybody with that size, and losing some battles as a result. When he came up to camp two years ago, he was like a bull in a China shop; after an up-and-down debut with Western Michigan University, he looks like someone who's trying to figure out whether he's a forward or a defenseman, and how legally mean he can be.
74 Marc McNulty: Still skinny as a rail at 6'6" and 195 pounds, still an elite skater at his size and still possessing very nice passing skills. He needs to fill out but he's kind of McKee's opposite--he's not gonna plow you over with that size, but he's going to use his skating and stick checking to prove that size without snarl doesn't mean you can walk past him.
71 River Rymsha: Rymsha's 6'2" and played for goaltender Chase Perry's team, the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL, and he looked like a 17-year-old on his first day of a summer development camp among NHL prospects. A little invisible.
31 Jared Coreau: Coreau the good: first shots, stickhandling, poise, determination, positioning, active blocking and catching hands, smart toes, never backs into his net any more. Coreau the bad: second shots, getting caught moving side-to-size with that gigantic 6'5," 235-pound frame, still trying to really find himself after a shoulder surgery whose recovery stretched into his first pro season collided with a Toledo Walleye team that really was dreadful. He's going to need to work very hard in the summer camp and the fall tournament to reestablish his swagger.
68 Andrew D'Agostini: Small but smart. At 5'10" and optimistically listed at 180, he's got an uphill battle to climb, but as Coreau is all long lines and elegant first stops, D'Agostini is a battler. A confident one.
I didn't see nearly as much of these gents due to overlapping media availabilities. However:
72 Andreas Athanasiou: Athanasiou's turning pro and he's got everything you'd want in a budding professional player. He's bigger, he's wider, he's stronger, he's learning when to skate through people Darren Helm style and when to lurk, and his confidence and plain old arrogance have been tempered a bit by age and experience. I do not know what he maxes out in terms of his offense, but his explosive leg strength and natural talent give him all sorts of opportunities to shine.
81 Michael Babcock: 5'9," 170 pounds and just...He's the kind of player that, if there is eventually a spot on the team, four years from now, after he goes to Merrimack, you want to keep a spot open for just in case. He's enthusiastic as all hell get out, he's fast and he's gritty. He might be nothing more than a fourth-line forward at best, but he has his father's work ethic and his own level of tenactiy, especially after finding himself in regular fisticuffs with the USHL's Fargo Force last season. He's not gonna give you an inch that you don't earn.
59 Tyler Bertuzzi: Tyler looked a little gassed from the Memorial Cup. Frankly, so did Mantha. Bertuzzi remains much more than an agitator; he is a fleet-footed skater, he's got good vision in terms of his passing, his shot is good and he is in fact quite good defensively. He's grown up into a man's body, depsite remaining wiry, and the next few days will tell as to whether he can keep his temper in check.
86 Blake Clarke: Clarke was a very highly-ranked prospect who fell off the radar screen, and while his draft-year stats were dreadful, the Saginaw Spirit forward is speedy and determined.
92 Christoffer Ehn: I saw a lot of Ehn falling over, a lot of Ehn getting beat, a lot of Ehn trying to figure out what the hell he was supposed to be doing and absolutely no intimidation factor as he learned. The Frolunda forward is nearly as big as Vahatalo, this time 6'3" and 181 pounds with his gear on, but the rough first day just didn't seem to have his body language saying anything other than, "Okay, how do I do this better?"
76 Darby Llewellyn: Llewellyn got passed over in his first draft year while playing for Kitchener, he's not overly big at 6'1" and 175 pounds, and he kept up the pace, but that's what I saw of him.
69 Zach Nastasiuk: If Nastasiuk wasn't headed to the World Junior Selection camp in August, and if Nastasiuk wasn't going back to the Owen Sound Attack to play as the team's captain, he could turn pro right now as a speedy, gritty and surprisingly puck-skilled 3rd line center in the making. He's physically ready to build upon the games he played with Grand Rapids this past season and playoff run, and he and Andreas Athanasiou are Mutt and Jeff off the ice, with Nastasiuk and his ticked-back visor grinning as Athanasiou said, "Let's skate across!" when they were presented with either walking around the rink or using the auxilliary entrance to be a little cheeky. Nastasiuk has a great combination of enthusiasm and determination.
63 David Pope: Through very limited viewing, the massively-winged sniper (6'2," 187 pounds and all arms and legs) didn't stand out, but the Wings like pope, who posted 27 goals in 50 BCHL games, and the "Kronwall/Landon Ferraro-stick-taper" is a smooth skater. He's just still quite skinny given how very gangly he is.
22 Brandon Robinson: Big? Check, 6'3" and 216 pounds. Skilled? Reply hazy, try again later.
67 Tylor Spink: The right-shooting 5'10," 185-pound center from Colgate. Didn't stand out.
73 Tyson Spink: The left-shooting 5'10," 185-pound winger from Colgate. Didn't stand out.
78 Dominic Turgeon: When I spoke with Dominic, he said he needs to work on his quickness, and he's right. He's got a bit of a Mr. Heavyfoot syndrome, and that limits his ability to really thrive as a two-way forward--though it should be said that Zach Nastasiuk needed to find half a step last year at this time, and that he found a whole one. Turgeon, using his father and Joe Sakic's favorite-patterned stick, is a good passer and playmaker, but at this point in his development, he seems to be focusing on trying to be a tenacious but not necessarily pugnacious defensive forward. Looked polished, looked a little like his dad in all the good ways.
82 Tomas Nosek: At times, Nosek looked like someone who was turning pro with the Grand Rapids Grifins for a reason. At others, the affable Czech looked like he was literally a fish out of water playing incredibly fast-paced North American hockey. He looked frustrated, he looked annoyed, he looked a little bummed when things didn't work out, but the 6'2," 201-pound Czech also looked like he was indeed good enough to sign to a 2-way contract hoping that his hard cuts to the net and sneaky good hands signal something more.
95 Scott Cznarowczan: The 5'10, 176-pound Macomb native turned pro with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads this past season, and he may have to go back to the ECHL to find his way. Noticeable in a neutral manner.
51 Ben Marshall: Marshall's in a bit of a pickle. He remains about 5'10" and 180-ish pounds some three years into his tenure at the University of Minnesota, and while he made offensive strides this past season, he remains 5'10" and 180-ish pounds. He's a fleet-footed waterbug and he's got some tenacity to his game, but the rest of the camp will tell the tale more than a few glances on the first day could.
77 Richard Nedomlel: I didn't see much of Big Richard, but Big Richard looked like he was mashing people into pulp, and that's what Big Richard needs to do--a little more deftly.
64 Ryan Obuchowski: The 6'1" Yale defenseman hailing from West Bloomfield stood out because of the name on the back of his jersey. That's about it.
79 Logan Schmidt: 5'11," 169 pounds and passed over in his draft year, shoots right, looked overpowered as you might expect from someone of that build.
53 Nick Zotl: 6'4," 215 pounds, passed over for the draft twice now, and it'll be interesting to see him in more battle drills. I've heard he doffs the gloves regularly and tomorrow's scrimmage might be interesting
36 Jake Paterson: Paterson was at the south end of the rink and I was at the north end, but from far away and down low against the glass, I saw a calmer Paterson in the net, worrying a little less about that perfect butterfly technique. It was his savior and his nemesis.
38 Lucas Peressini: I know he plays for Kingston because that's what his helmet said, I know he's 6'2" and that he was a last-second replacement and I saw a lot of stand-up saves and good glove grabs, and he handled getting plowed over pretty well, because that happened pretty regularly with the second group. That's what I've got for ya.
In terms of articles that have been published while I was writing this...
Michael Babcock said it’s hard to avoid the topic of his dad, but he does whatever he can to focus on becoming a better player.
“I’d say that it’s a hard subject to avoid,” he said. “It’s probably easier for me than a guy like Turg (who’s dad is not) playing in the NHL just because my dad coaches. Some guys give you abuse — other guys embrace you. For me, just separating myself as a player is do what I do every day and just work hard and skate fast.”...
Michael Babcock said the best piece of advice his father gave him was to hold himself accountable.
“He always talks about how the definition of himself won’t be by how many Stanley Cups or gold medals he has — just more of a type of man he is and the family he raises,” Michael Babcock said.
Fox Sports has an embedded camera crew as well as a beat writer working for them, so they posted a photo gallery, a chat with coach Blashill...
And Andrea Nelson took note of Anthony Mantha's comments:
Although he will only turn 20 years old in September and is expected to make the jump from the QMJHL to the AHL next season, Mantha understands that he could be a beneficiary of the youth movement within the Red Wings' organization sooner rather than later.
"The team was starting to get old, I think the rookies, well the younger guys, they had a great thing this year coming up," Mantha said. "Guys like (Tomas) Tatar and (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan. I watched them the whole year through and I think I can build off them and try to do the same thing."
Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill is working to make sure when and if that time comes, prospects have a seamless transition into the Wings' dressing room.
"We're trying to break every day down into a core habit that is important for guys to be successful to play for Mike Babcock in Detroit and to play for us in Grand Rapids," Blashill said. "So today we worked a lot on taking away the other team's time in space, making it hard through angling, through being above people through cutting off, through doing those types of things."
At his first Development Camp one year ago, Mantha learned the importance of being an every-dayer, a term that is often used within the Wings' organization, and he will continue to carry that mentality into training camp this fall.
"I came here last year with that mentality (to win a job) and I'll go to the main camp with the same mentality," Mantha said. "You want to be an NHLer one day in your life, and as soon as that can come I will make every little step that I can do get there."
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke with Blashill and Mantha about the first day's message...
“We’re trying to break everyday down into a core habit that is important for guys to be successful to play for Mike Babcock in Detroit and to play for us in Grand Rapids,” Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said. “So today we worked a lot on taking away the other team’s time in space, making it hard through angling, through being above people, through cutting off, through doing those types of things. I thought it was a real good first day. The other thing I’d say is we’re working on trying to set the tone for how hard we practice and how much we pay attention to details in practice.”
Every one of the players at camp has potential to become an NHL player, but it’s how these prospects perform at camps like these that can be a determining factor in whether their dreams become reality.
Lots have been made of Mantha’s career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the 107 goals that he scored over the past two seasons. However, even he knows the past will only get him so far.
“I think it’s just about being calm, coming out here and doing what I should be doing here,” he said. “If I’m doing the right things then I’ll get my chance. I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself.”
Built like a power forward, Mantha has the God-given talent to play in NHL but it’s the confidence in his own abilities that makes it easy to see why he can soon be a star in this league.
“I came here last year with that mentality and I’ll go to the main camp (in September) with the same mentality because you want to be an NHLer one day in your life,” Mantha said. “And as soon as that can come I will make every little step that I can do get there.”
As a professional inside-outsider, I can't deny that it's a little...I feel a little jealous of the concept of people having a staff and being able to get into the locker room for the pre and post-practice stuff while those of us who are up here because we've either paid our own way or, in my incredibly fortunate and grateful case, my readers have paid my way...All the "little guys" can do is try to make up for it in hard work and sincerity, because the Wings are the Wings, and FSD pays a lot of money for its preferential treatment.
They have every right to do their thing, and I'm just going to do my best to keep doing my thing.
The media availabilities were VERY limited, and the Wings were given a leg up on everybody, so I kind of "came in late" to most of 'em.
First, Anthony Mantha spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose, and then the rest of us, about playing alongside Dylan Larkin, about his desire to make the Wings roster, his hopes regarding "turning pro," and eventually I was able to ask him some questions about his QMJHL title and Memorial Cup participation. I like the fact that he got ever-so-slightly testy when I asked him if he'd been checked at the Memorial Cup like he hadn't been checked before:
Those final questions meant that I came in a little late to Dylan Larkin's scrum, too. Larkin was already being asked when the Wings plan on asking him to turn pro, which seemed a little odd given that he's all of 17, but Larkin handled all of the questions with surprising aplomb, and he came off as someone who's been in the hockey spotlight since he was playing with Belle Tire as a 14-and-15-year-old and someone who'd played on the U.S. National Team. Smart kid, and I did manage to ask him about making an investment in himself by paying his own way up here--which all NCAA prospects have to do to retain their eligibility:
I got in on Andreas Athanasiou's scrum a little earlier, and he remains full of confidence in his own abilities as he "turns pro," but he also looks bigger and bulkier and speaks a little more softly than he used to. He and Zach Nastasiuk are pals, too, so I was able to ask him about both his pro aspirations, his training and he and Nastasiuk goofing around:
Tyler Bertuzzi's interview followed both the "scrum" format and was a little hard to hear given that the players started cranking up the stero, but he spoke about his second Major Junior season, returning from a neck injury to take part in the Guelph Storm's playoff run, perhaps adding a few more dimensions to his game and being one of the "older players" this time around (I asked Mantha and Athanasiou a similar question):
My talk with Tomas Nosek was also of the scrum variety, but I was able to ask him about how his contract with Detroit went down and what he thought of the camp thus far, as well as the fact that Richard Nedomlel's available to serve as a semi-translator (Nosek's English is OK):
I eventually got to speak with Dominic Turgeon on my own--I sacrificed an interview with Christoffer Ehn to do so--and Turgeon was very honest about his hockey background, playing for the Portland Winterhawks, the skills upon which he feels he needs to improve, his strengths as a player, his initial take on the Wings' system of play and his hockey allegiances as someone who grew up in Denver:
One more thing: Not necessarily about prospects? The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness wondered aloud whether the Red Wings need to import a right-shooting defenseman via trade, or whether the Wings can hope that one of their top prospects steals a job come September:
Michael Del Zotto, who just turned 24, also remains a free agent, but he’s also a left-handed shot.
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.
Update: The Wings put together a wonderful video summarizing Dylan Larkin's day and how the Wings approach the development camp (via RedWIingsFeed again):
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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.