Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings summer development camp 2014, day 2: scrimmage impressions and MSM takes

The rink was packed to the gills for the Red Wings summer development campers' first scrimmage today, and it's not a cliche to say that while Team Yzerman beat Team Lidstrom 3-2, "A good time was had by all." A good chunk of the summer campers were engaging in their first real "game" since March or April, so it was a bit of a defensive struggle (and Jiri Fischer said that the no-fighting rule remains in place, so there was some chippiness, but no silliness), and Christoffer Ehn said that the players found out about their linemates right before the game, so there was a bit of a learning curve...

But once everybody settled down, the pace was good--in two 25-minute periods in which the last 15 minutes were "stoppage time"--and I think Jeff Blashill, who didn't coach the teams (RPI coach Seth Appert and Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick coached Team Yzerman, and Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek and Walleye coach Derek Lalonde coached Team Lidstrom) would've been happiest about the fact that the teams tended to employ an up-tempo, puck possession system of play--just the kind of system of play Blashill's trying to imprint upon nearly 40 youngsters who are mostly used to dump-and-chase hockey.

Tomorrow's schedule of events at Centre Ice Arena looks 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

And you can read my morning skate impressions and listen to morning and afternoon interviews as you wish.

I watched Team Lidstrom's practice during this moring's simultaneous skates, so I'm going to watch the Team Yzerman practice, but then I'm going to follow Team Yzerman through the skating and skills parts. I may have to take a short break from the practice part to do interviews with Team Yzerman members, but then I'll be back out for the rest of Team Lidstrom's practice.

Again, for me the information junkie and possible borderline weirdo ("Hey, George, what're you doing on a Saturday night in July in Traverse City?" "Writing in my hotel room, duh!"), the fact that I've got to choose between two teams instead of watching a morning session and then an afternoon session is quite frustrating, but for the team, they believe that the faster pace and all-morning drills = the players are learning that professional athletes go to the rink, do what they need to do at a very high pace and at high intensity--though shedding no aspect of attention to detail--and then they go on with the rest of their days.

As this camp isn't just about hockey, the Wings feel that it's important that a group of nearly 40 17-to-24-year-old men get to enjoy themselves and enjoy what the city has to offer through structured activities. They're not supposed to be robots, and there's a sense that the previous camps involved a little too much of everything, at least from Jiri Fischer's perspective. He's the director of player development, so I defer to him.

Anyway, the scrimmage went like this:

Jared Coreau, #31 started for Team Yzerman, and Matt D'Agostini #68 got the second-half start for the red-wearing Yzermans, and their team consisted of the following lines and defensive pairings:

Forwards:

Dylan Larkin #19-Anthony Mantha #39-Kyle Baun #84

Hampus Gustafsson #70-Julius Vahatalo #94-Luke Sandler #83

Dean Chelios #24-Axel Holmstrom #96-Cole Bardreau #85/Hayden Hodgson #17

Mark Cooper #37-Alex Globke #45-David Johnstone #80

Defensemen:

Marc McNulty #74-Joe Hicketts #27

Kevin Clare #97-River Rymsha #71

Mike McKee #58-James De Haas #75

Jake Paterson #36 started for Team Lidstrom, and Lucas Peressini #38 got second-half duties for the white-wearing Lidstroms, and their team consisted of the following lines and defensive pairings:

Forwards:

David Pope #63-Dominic Turgeon #78-Tyler Bertuzzi #59

Tyson Spink #73-Tylor Spink #67-Darby Llewellyn #76

Tomas Nosek #82-Andreas Athanasiou #72-Zach Nastasiuk #62

Brandon Robinson #22-Blake Clarke #86-Michael Babcock #81

Defensemen:

Richard Nedomlel #77-Ben Marshall #51

Nick Zotl #53-Trevor Hamilton #46

Ryan Obuchowski #64-Logan Schmidt #79

Scott Czarnowczan #95, rotating in.

Kris Draper and Ken Holland were here today, but Mike Babcock was either absent or invisible; Fischer and Ryan Martin have been here for the duration, and goalie coach Jim Bedard, Walleye assistant coach Tom Watson and some VERY CONSPICUOUS scouts from other Major Junior or NCAA teams watched from the stands (you would think that the scouts would be aware that the track jackets they wear everywhere, the white golf shorts adorning very white legs and inevitable cups of coffee and folded-over rosters would try to not stick out).

Dylan Larkin's parents were in attendance, too, as were several other players' families. When parents are in the stands, they're not interviewable in my book.

The scoring summary went like this:

Team Yzerman opened the scoring when Mark Cooper stole the puck in the offensive zone, he dropped it to Mike McKee, and McKee's pass to Alex Globke yielded a good shot and a better rebound-jam goal with 20:53 left in the 1st half.

While working with Dominic Turgeon, Team Lidstrom's Tomas Nosek stole the puck in the slot and made a dangle-and-deke before scoring to tie the game 1-1 with just over 11 minutes left in the 1st half.

Joe Hicketts blew the game open with an absolute cannon from the point that went top-shelf on Paterson, via a Marc McNulty pass, with 2:32 left in the 1st half, giving Team Yzerman the 2-1 lead.

The second half started briskly, and the crowd was surprised to find out that a penalty yielded a penalty shot, and a full-team chase.

Team Yzerman's Anthony Mantha took a holding penalty on Zach Nastasiuk, and after Andreas Athanasiou tried to take the penalty shot (seriously), Nastasiuk was stopped by Matt D'Agostini's toe...

Five minutes later, Julius Vahatalo scored what would be the game-winner for Team Yzerman, converting off a lovely rush in which he and the equally large Hampus Gustafsson plowed their way toward the net and Vahatalo jammed the puck past Lucas Peressini...

And Christoffer Ehn made things interesting thanks to a superb wraparound attempt and then pass by Blake Clarke to Ehn, but the goal was scored with 3:20 left in the game, and Team Listrom was unable to tie it.

Team Yzerman won 3-2, though there was also a short shootout, whose results read as follows:

Team Yzerman's Dylan Larkin deked, dangled, and put one off the goalpost and in vs. Peressini;

Team Lidstrom's Tomas Nosek kick faked and tried to Forsberg D'Agostini, to no avail;

Anthony Mantha roared in faked, kicked and did a stick fake and ran out of room;

Andreas Athanasiou stickhandled up, stopped, stickhandled up and slid a deft backhand through D'Agostini's legs;

Axel Holmstrom did the start-and-dead-stop-start but was stopped easily by Peressini;

Dominic Turgeon tried to go very far wide to the blocker side but was poke-checked by D'Agostini;

Kyle Baun skated up and in, deked to his backhand and was blockered away by Peressini;

Team Yzerman's Spink the Right-Handed, a.k.a. Tylor, went in from the wide blocker side and faked the hell out of D'Agostini, firing the puck into a bewildered and pretzel-shaped goalie's net;

Julius Vahatalo went the wide-right side and was barely stopped as Peressini closed his five hole;

And Christoffer Ehn went for a backhand deke, and he couldn't lift it, but he had D'Agostini biting on the deke.

I'm not the narrative recap type, and I guess I need to put up the disclaimer before offering player assessments: please remember that this is a summer development camp, not a prospect tournament, and that Jiri Fischer and every other Wings exec involved will tell us that this is a stand-alone event which offers players an opportunity to learn. They're not being given spots on the team based upon what they do in July, and what follows is both subjective and given to the best of my abilities:

On Team Yzerman, line-by-line...

Forwards:

Dylan Larkin #19-Anthony Mantha #39-Kyle Baun #84

Larkin has some snarl and some bite to him, and he skates very, very well, he has a superb shot and good stickhandling abilities, he's a strong passer and he sees the ice well, and he's 17 and a little more miraculously listed at 6'1" and 190 pounds by the day. He looked sharp and showed flashes of both strong, strong scoring instincts and a little bit of rebound-and-crease-jamming jam, but he has consistently looked like someone coming from USHL/NAHL/BCHL hockey--i.e. precursor-to-NCAA-hockey programs--and he just looks young and raw.

The high-end skill is there, as is the drive, but he's just young.

Mantha is going to have a long talk with a coach about this whole 90-second-to-2-minute QMJHL shift thing. He and Tyler Bertuzzi still look a little mentally fatigued from having won Major Junior titles and having played in the Memorial Cup into late May, and there were times that Mantha tried to be too cute, but he looks like enough of a "man amongst boys" that is is incredibly evident that he's turning pro and it is incredibly evident that he is not only a sniper of the first order, but he's also a really strong all-round player.

He glides a little too much and he tries to do a little too much by himself, but he's an excellent passer, he can be physical and he is strong defensively. He just needs to get used to pro pace, because he found himself out of room in a regulation-sized rink very regularly.

Baun, a 6'2," 204-pound forward from Colgate, had perhaps his best showing of the summer camp, mostly because he did what his big body and fast stride allow him to do: make space for the more talented people. Baun's 24 and 26-point seasons in 36 and 39 games, respectively, show that he's got some skill as well, but in this camp, he's been a give-and-go player who's served a supporting role.

Hampus Gustafsson #70-Julius Vahatalo #94-Luke Sandler #83

Gustafsson also had an excellent game, and the 6'4," 205-pound winger going into his sophomore season at Merrimack was a good foil for Vahatalo. He used his size and strength to jam along the boards and grab loose pucks and he went to the front of the net. Regrettably I've barely seen the guy, and he hasn't stuck out to the point that I'd say, "Cut the NCAA eligibility and sign him!"

Sandler was very much so in the background here. He's played in the BCHL for several teams and he's looking for a college home, and I hope he finds it, because I haven't been able to find him very regularly.

Vahatalo was great. He is incredibly lanky at 6'5" and 191 pounds, and the TPS Turku forward definitely looks like he's coming out of an under-20 league, but he's got excellent wheels, he's got a hard shot and he knows how to get up and down the ice. He was the pivot of the line in more ways than one, and given his lankiness, I was surprised that he didn't get pushed around more.

Dean Chelios #24-Axel Holmstrom #96-Cole Bardreau #85/Hayden Hodgson #17

Chelios did a very good job doing what Dean does. Dean's a playmaker and a playmaker at high speed, and while Dean, Axel and their pair of wingers didn't see a ton of ice time, Dean did all the things he needed to do but couldn't two or three years ago--i.e. win physical battles for the puck in the trenches and come up with the puck when physically challenged. He's still an ECHL'er at this point, but it is encouraging to see him doggedly pursue his pro dreams while consistently improving upon what was once an incredibly undersized and wiry frame.

Axel Holmstrom is indeed a Holmstrom in that his skating is a bit wild and woolly and that he likes to go to the front of the net. He doesn't stay there, though--Axel really does power up and down the middle of the ice, where he's got a sound defensive and positional awareness, he's smart about where he distributes the puck and his shot is sneaky.

Bardreau has impressed me in that his 5'10" frame belies an incredible level of speed, but the Cornell forward going into his senior year needs to do more than roar up and down the wing.

Hodgson wasn't very visible despite being a bulldog-sized 6'2" and 204 pounds. He looks like he's gonna tear things up but he doesn't. Not yet, anyway.

Mark Cooper #37-Alex Globke #45-David Johnstone #80

Cooper, who's going into his junior year at Bowling Green, looked sharp in terms of his playmaking abilities and he contributed to Globke's goal.

Globke scored a goal in what was something of a breakout performance for the 6'2," 193-pound Lake Superior State University sophomore. Globke isn't super fast, he isn't super strong, but he has found a way of making himself obvious when urgency is necessary, and he scored a goal because he doggedly battled his way to the net and jammed the puck into it. When you're an NCAA player and your time and viewable time are limited, there's nothing to do to light up a scout's eye like scoring a goal.

Johnstone has yet to show me his best-since-sliced-bread hands. I've seen his speed but I haven't seen much else from the Michgan Tech senior who is inded 5'11" and maybe 175 pounds.

Defensemen:

Marc McNulty #74-Joe Hicketts #27

McNulty was both very good and still...In progress. Marc's put on a significant amount of weight since last summer, but he's still 6'6" and 193 pounds, and for his Giraffe-like frame, he's still pencil-thin. The kid's got an absolutely lightning-fast stride and really could be used as a forward, and his outlet passing is excellent, but he got bumped and ground down pretty heavily.

Hicketts scored a goal and looked like McNulty's perfect foil--5'10" and 186 pounds, stocky, pugnacious and possessing a hard and accurate shot. He stood up better than McNulty did in traffic, but I've seen very little of the Victoria Royals defenseman, and I am hopeful that the 18-year-old continues to improve at the WHL level, because he's fun to watch. Just small, and he's going to have to go back to the WHL and continue to prove people wrong until he can earn a contract somewhere.

Kevin Clare #97-River Rymsha #71

Clare, a 6'1," 210-pound defenseman who graduated from the University of Michigan, had a very solid game. He didn't do anything spectacular, but he held up well in the high-paced game.

Rymsha's been a little absent, but he's coming out of the NAHL and is 18.

Mike McKee #58-James De Haas #75

McKee really does, as Slapshotgoal from Winging it in Motown suggested, have to go out there and consciously not try to kill people. The man is just massive, 6'5" and 255 pounds, and he's incredibly adept at the physical defenseman's role. While Richard Nedomlel is a bit heavy-footed, McKee can keep up with an up-tempo game, and having seen him for two days and then two summers ago, that sure as hell wasn't the case when he was a big hunk of uncoordinated man in 2012.

De Haas is sort of the opposite--he's an excellent skater and passer (McKee kept up with De Haas in that regard) and has the vision to post both outlet passes and to head-man the rush, but he's so top-heavy that his center of gravity looks like it's way up near his shoulders. He's got giraffe legs like McNulty and a gigantic set of shoulders, and he just looks like he's gonna need another 3 years at Clarkson to sort his 6'3," 205-pound body out. Skill set very strong to near-top-4 category, body out of whack.

Goalies:

Jared Coreau #31 and Matt D'Agostini #68

Coreau was WAY more agile than he was last year at this time, and even during last year's fall tournament. Coreau's starting to play much better laterally and recovering from shots, and that's essential if he's to take his impeccable technical "hybrid" game and massive 6'5" frame and to translate it into that of a winning professional goaltender.

D'Agostini's scrappy play and demeanor (he's not a mean scrappy, just scrappy) really make me wish that some other team would watch him somewhat inefficiently but always determinedly stop every damn shot that he can while maximizing his 5'10" frame, and that some scout would say, "We'll make him our small goaltender because we believe he can make it." He's not going to get that chance here.

On Team Lidstrom, line-by-line...

Forwards:

David Pope #63-Dominic Turgeon #78-Tyler Bertuzzi #59

Pope got hit. Pope got hit a lot. For 6'2" or 6'3," I think the 187-pound-listed weight is a little optimistic. He's another giraffe-built player, and he's dominated in the BCHL, a Junior A league for players who want to keep their NCAA eligibility. Does he have some remarkable hands and a scary sniper's touch at times? Youbetcha, but in instances when he has to get to the front of the net or he has to drive a lane, he can get rattled, and the BCHL's version of "time and space" is so far removed from pro hockey's pace that Mantha lining up for a one-timer, holding his stick in the air for 30 seconds at the Memorial Cup...Looks like a lightning-fast reaction.

That's not to say that Pope doesn't have a boatload of potential. He does, he's just got 4 years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha to tap into it.

Dominic Turgeon is a little faster than I thought he'd be and a little smarter offensively than I thought he'd be. He's an excellent defensive center and despite the fact that he's not a gigantic man by any stretch of the imagination, he's already built like a pro hockey player, and you can see the bloodlines when he dumps the puck in and goes and finds it--which is something that someone who's truly a "defensive forward" wouldn't do. They're "smart dumps," if one can say that, where he's placing the puck in a spot where he knows he's going to be able to get to the puck and distribute it to his wingers before opposing defensemen can get to it, or in a spot where opposing defensemen will be vulnerable. SMART kid.

Tyler Bertuzzi looks to be having a little bit of Memorial Cup-and-OHL-championship-winning funk and he looks like someone who may be trying to hold his pugnacity back a little TOO much. He's still the guy that scored 5 goals in the Memorial Cup while driving his opponents up a wall, but in a summer camp, and feeling a little burnt out, I see the excellent skating, I see the two-way ability, I see his smart shot and great passing skills, but they're not all there at the same time. He's not into this whole not-drive-your-teammates-*#$%@&-nuts thing.

Tyson Spink #73-Tylor Spink #67-Darby Llewellyn #76

The Spinks can be summed up simply: They're both 5'10," they're both a little generously listed as north of 180 pounds, and they are waterbugs who can deke, dangle and delight at the NCAA level because college hockey is a little less physical than major junior hockey. They are the perfect NCAA players in that regard--they're representative of a league that will allow the smaller and lighter player to thrive among the Mike McKees because the rulebook is called differently and there's more of an emphasis on skill.

Just as Major Junior hockey is not a perfect precursor to professional play, however, NCAA hockey is not a perfect precursor to professional play, and I do not know if the gents will be able to hack it in more traffic.

Llewellyn, an Ann Arbor native who turns 18 later this month and plays for Kitchener, is somebody to remember for a later date. The 6'1," 175-pound winger does nothing fantastically, but he is very quietly VERY solid, and when I see him with the puck, he's doing the right thing in all three zones. Not the fastest, not the biggest, not the strongest and not the most skilled, but he could be a "useful" player, and you can't have too many useful players.

Tomas Nosek #82-Andreas Athanasiou #72-Zach Nastasiuk #62

Nosek was brilliant and bland at times. He's got frickin' Datsyuk goal-scoring hands at times--if I may allow myself to be completely honest--and he's big and lanky and still very powerful in terms of his skating, and he's big and lanky and adjusting to the North American rink and he's still taking hits and managing to stay in the play enough of the time to be effective, and he's still very uncomfortable with the rink dimensions and the language, to the point that Nedomlel would often be on the ice at the same time for comfort's sake (and Nedomlel was very good), but you can see why Jiri Fischer picked this kid as a late-bloomer and as someone who finished in the top-10 in scoring in a men's league. He's a good playmaker, too, good vision, good awareness of where his teammates are going to be.

What can he really do? Ask me in September. Or October.

Athanasiou had to tone things down a bit to allow Nosek to keep up, and that's a theme for Athanasiou--he plays the game too fast for many people, including himself at times. He's got solid rocket booster speed--there is only one switch for the rocket, "full power" or "off"--and he plows up the middle and can all but literally skate through people. His hands are superb, in terms of his slithery shots or his deft, deft passing touch, and he's grown into his body to the point that 6'2" and 200 pounds are completely accurate and indicative of someone who can bump off of Anthony Mantha and keep going.

He is, however, just about to turn pro, so before all of us start saying, "Athanasiou is going to make the team!!!" we need to remember that he's just coming off an incredibly dominant Major Junior campaign, and that he still projects to be more of a "rich man's Darren Helm" than a top-line player. So far anyway.

Nastasiuk could turn pro right now, but the defensively-adept forward whose strong skating and strong playmaking abilities are nearly pro-level is going back to Owen Sound to captain the team and hopefully find a little offense in the OHL. The Wings are stacked enough at the pro level that they can afford Nastasiuk to have the kinds of seasons Athanasiou and Mantha had, and that's the point--or so I've been told. I like his pluck and he can be a bit nasty.

Brandon Robinson #22/Blake Clarke #86-Christofer Ehn #92-Michael Babcock #81

Robinson was on and off the line and he's been on and off. He's listed at 6'3" and 216 pounds, and he plays for the Kitchener Rangers, but he doesn't play as big or imposing as he looks.

Clarke is a puzzle and a half. Clarke's wraparound pass to Ehn was a thing of downright utter frivolity, flittered away from someone who skates at an incredibly high level and who has wonderful hands, but he had a bad draft year with Saginaw and he's one of those "tools but no toolbox" players at the kind of high level and high inconsistency that make you go, "Um...what the hell is he anyway?" I hope he figures himself out.

Michael Babcock got pushed around a bit, but it wasn't for a lack of trying, and man, does he try. He's just super speedy, super gritty and a fantastic complementary player. He's not going to be much more than a fourth-liner if the stars align after 4 years at Merrimack, but I hope they do, because his enthusiasm and self-depreciating sense of humor seem to make everyone around him a little more at ease and a little better, too.

Defensemen:

Richard Nedomlel #77-Ben Marshall #51

Nedomlel had a very, very good game alongside Marshall. Nedomlel remains a little heavy-footed, but he's gotten even smoother and more immediate than he was last year at this time, and it's that slow but steady improvement in every aspect of his game that give him a real shot to become a strong and very physical 6/7 defenseman who will also be--like Babcock--something of both a locker-room leader and an on-the-bench and on-ice keep-em-loose guy. He's got that wonderful blend of talent and personality to make him a "heart-and-soul" player, and unlike Michael, he's 6'5."

Marshall had a superb game, and he had the kind of game that I hope he has more often with the University of Minnesota. When he's placed in a starring role, he can really head-man the puck himself or find someone with a seeing-eye outlet pass, his shot is hard for someone who's 5'10" and 175 pounds, and between his chippy but strong skating and his unwillingness to budge, he's not going to give up on a physical play simply because he's "small." He's got the odds stacked against him, but his talent is there.

Nick Zotl #53-Trevor Hamilton #46

Zotl looks like Nedomlel did three years ago. 6'4," 218, tough, scrappy, sometimes he makes a great play and most of the time he looks uncoordinated.

Hamilton is another one of those borderline cases. He's not overly big at 6' and 180, he's going into his sophomore season at Miami of Ohio, he's a right-shooting defenseman who is speedy, who's done a great job of keeping up with the pace of two successive summer camps, his shot is heavy and his vision is excellent, but does he fit here? Or does he fit doing a Chelios, playing out his college career and going into the ECHL? He sticks around. He doesn't stick out but he sticks in your head enough that you remember him.

Ryan Obuchowski #64-Logan Schmidt #79

Obuchowski, a West Bloomfield native going into his junior year at Yale, has one thing going for him: he plays as wide as the name makes his shoulders wide. He's listed at 185 but he plays like he's 205. He's bigger than his size and he's simple.

Schmidt, another Kitchener Rangers player, shows flashes of superb offensive skill and definite indications that he's 5'11" and maybe 170 with his skates on.

Scott Czarnowczan #95, rotating in: Hard to figure out. He's 5'10" and 176, he's played four years of college hockey and has turned pro with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, and he's another one of those "stick around" players. He probably doesn't have a fit here, but he'll continue to pursue his pro dream..

Goalies:

Jake Paterson #36 and Lucas Peressini #38

Paterson was a little better than he's been in the team drills, a little more willing to get out of that perfect butterfly. He got beaten backing into his net by that big Hicketts shot, but he looks more like a goalie who truly should play in the ECHL and get more confidence about him than he did last year, when he was more of a Nastasiuk-style, "Eeeh, he's almost good enough, but let's see what he can really do" case--and it should be noted that Paterson got lit up with a crapton of shots but held his Saginaw Spirit in more games than not, so it's going to be interesting to see whether he can deal with facing fewer than 40 shots a night.

That's going to be tough for him. He's going to have to be patient.

Peressini has looked very solid. He's got that "vampire squid" affect about his 6'2" frame--if you shoot it into his body, he's going to gobble it up--and his glove hand is very good, but there are times that he's uncoordinated and holes pop up, too. He was great in the shootouts, very patient.

While I was spending three hours writing this, the mainstream folk weighed in, and the rights-holders got access to coach Blashill before he disappeared into the coaches' room for the better part of an hour.

Fox Sports Detroit's Andrea Nelson spoke with Blashill about his impressions of the scrimmage and Ehn and Vahatalo's performances...

"I thought all of our young draft picks did a good job," said Blashill, who is directing the development camp. "But I did think that our European draft picks seemed to assimilate to the smaller sheet real quickly in this game. Now this isn't real hockey, this is still summer hockey, so it's much looser than what you're going to find as the year begins. But I thought they did a good job of assimilating and it resulted in goals for them."

The smaller rink wasn't the only thing Ehn had to adjust to.

"I realized on the first day that there are a lot of big guys and they know how to play physical, so you have to be ready at all times," Ehn said.

And one All-Star still hasn't even stepped on the ice, although he hopes that changes Sunday. Defenseman Alexey Marchenko, who made his NHL debut with the Wings and was also an AHL All-Star for the Griffins last season, underwent ankle surgery after a severe sprain, and just had the screws removed last week.

"We would like to try to get him out onto the ice," Blashill said. "He'd like to skate a little bit. But we also know that it's early in July and we certainly don't want to have any type of setback. We expect that he'll be fully ready come the fall. If anything he's pushing to skate and we're going to hold him back a little bit."

She got to speak to Anthony Mantha before he darted off, too, but I'll leave reading that to you, and prefer to note that the players are going to have some fun tomorrow given that Tomas Storm and Andy Weidenbach are gonna put them through their skill and skating drill paces:

"This will be a tough day for the guys because you come in and you're excited on the first day and then the next day is a scrimmage," Blashill said. "Those are easy days. Now you have to come in a grind it a little bit. Purposely, we have practices designed to where they are about grinding and showing our guys that you just can't show up for two days and then not be good the third day. You have to have a good mental attitude every day."

Again, FSD is "embedded" with the Wings, so they and Red Wings TV are getting preferential access and are probably going to produce some sort of longer-form content. Red Wings TV is already doing superb stuff and we'll likely see FSD's stuff closer to training camp.

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose also spoke with Blashill and Ehn...

“I realized on the first day that there are a lot of big guys and they know how to play physical,” said Ehn, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 181-pounds. “You have to be ready at all times, especially around the lines because the pressure is coming from all kinds of angles. You have to really know where you want to put the puck two and three steps ahead.”

Blashill was impressed by Nosek, a 21-year-old forward, who will likely begin the upcoming season in Grand Rapids. The Red Wings signed the 6-foot-2 Czech to a two-year entry level contract last month.

“I’m paying particular attention to him because he’ll be coming over here this fall, and he does a lot of really good little things,” Blashill said. “He puts pucks into space (and) when he’s under duress he finds a little pass in seams. Those are the things that when you get to real hockey that you need to be able to do and he did a real good job of that.”

He also spoke with Mantha and one Axel Holmstrom:

“Everything in the circle is kind of the same,” Axel Holmstrom said. “I was born in the same hospital. I was born in 1996, he wore 96. Both being Holmstroms from up north in Sweden from a little city called Pitea. Yeah, everything is kind of the same, and I was picked 196 too. It’s spooky but it’s fun.”

The young Holmstrom has never met the former Red Wing forward, who re-invented the net-front position. But winding up in the same organization is ideal.

“Of course, it was always Detroit, and maybe the Rangers because of (Henrik) Lundqvist,” Axel Holmstrom said. “I think overall they are the two most-famous teams in Sweden. But everyone is second to Detroit because of (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Nicklas) Lidstrom when he was playing, and of course Tomas Holmstrom was an icon when he was standing in front of the goalie. And all of them played on the national team too so overall in Sweden I think they are the most popular team in Sweden. Being drafted was awesome actually. It’s the most-Swedish team in the NHL so it’s an honor and it’s fun to be with so many Swedes here. My last name, Holmstrom, is famous and I don’t feel sorry.”

MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Fischer's comments...

"We wanted to see speed," said director of player development Jiri Fischer. "We wanted to see guys making plays. We didn't want to see fighting. We wanted to see guys committed, finishing checks, fighting for pucks. We wanted to see goalies making big plays."

...

"In the development camp, we in general try to compare where guys are at versus where they were at in the development camp a year ago," Fischer said. "It's the middle of the summer. Not everybody skates, not everybody is on the ice. We understand that. Comparing where guys are at compared to where they were during the season to where they were at the prospects tournament, that's not fair. We want to make sure guys come here, they get educated on the ice, they get educated off the ice, media, life skills, culinary classes. Hopefully, they leave the camp and are using that information for the rest of the summer and get better (to be) the best they can."

And he posted a little shootout clip...

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness had a surprising conversation with Ken Holland...

For Anthony Mantha it comes down to one thing: If he wants to make the Detroit Red Wings’ roster this season, he has to beat someone out.

“He’s going to have to beat someone out,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think everybody has potential, some have more than others. If you don’t live up to that potential it really doesn’t matter.”

And it’s not just one of the 12 forwards Detroit dresses on a nightly basis, but one that’s slotted to be in the top six.

“When we open with Boston (on Oct. 9) and the coach says to me he wants Mantha in the lineup he’s in the lineup,” Holland said. “If he’s in the lineup it’s because basically we think he’s going to be a top six forward. I don’t know we’d put him on the fourth line and play him eight minutes.”

...

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

I will simply note that Paul found this little ditty from a tour of North American players who promote the game of hockey down under...

Andrew Gordon will captain the Canadian Team for the entire Australian tour and will wear number 10. He will replace KyleQuincey, two-time Douglas Webber Cup winning captain.

"I am so sorry I cannot attend this years' series. After a very tiring NHL season, I need to rest my body for the up coming season. The Australian ice hockey fans are awesome and I promise I will be back on the next tour Down Under. I have just learned that Andrew Gordon will replace me as the Captain and I just talked to him to give him some advice on how to beat the American s and bring Canada its third cup. Andrew is an incredible hockey player and will be in the NHL again next year. He has incredible skills and is an even more dynamic leader for Canada. Fans of ice hockey will being see something special with him leading the troops and playing on a very power line with Blair Riley and Josh Lunden." states Quincey.

And to take us out on a high note, Red Wings TV will introduce you to Peter Renzetti, and reveal to you why they hired an outside strength-and-conditioning coach--because he's a helluva motivator:

 

Update: Slapshotgoal from Winging it in Motown also interviewed Andreas Athanasiou:

After Athanasiou's Barrie Colts were eliminated from the second round of the playoffs, he joined the Griffins for their final two regular season games, and the playoffs. He had three points in the final two regular season games, and notched a lone assist in six playoff games, but that's nothing to be ashamed of considering it was his first time playing against the pros.

    AA-" It [playing with the Griffins] was a lot of fun. It was a big step up and I got a taste of professional hockey and what it takes to be a good player... You're playing against grown men who are a lot bigger and stronger so it's tough, but once you get used to it, the game play and the speed of the game, you're playing with really good players as well so it's a lot of fun.


He said he's hasn't been told for sure if he'll be in Grand Rapids next year, but I'm pretty sure he will. He's at the point in his development where moving up to the next level will help him improve the most. He has incredible blazing fast speed, making even difficult skating maneuvers look easy, and his skills with the puck are a joy to watch. I'm sure by now he's used to being the fastest guy on the ice in any given situation, but it's not always easy being so fast.

    AA- " You have to know when to take off and when to sit back, sometimes you have to wait for the puck, find the open lane, then take off again. You can't always be flying around because it's hard to find open seams like that. You try to find the open seam, get in the passing lane and maximize your speed as much as possible."

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Comments

RhymeTimeWingsDings's avatar

Andreas Athanasiou’s shootout goal was pretty saucy though I don’t know which goaltender he was shooting at.  Other than that I was surprised to see how big Mantha actually looks on the ice.  If he adds a few more pounds to that frame he’ll be a beast.  I was only able to catch about the last ten minutes of the game and shoot out due to the demon that is traffic in Traverse.

Posted by RhymeTimeWingsDings on 07/05/14 at 10:56 PM ET

calquake's avatar

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

Sure sounds like a message intended for Mules’ big ears.

Posted by calquake on 07/06/14 at 12:20 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Sure sounds like a message intended for Mules’ big ears.(Posted by calquake on 07/06/14 at 01:20 AM ET)

—I think Abdelkader would be the first one he can beat out, especially since he mentions that Babcock wants to look at him with Zetterberg-Datsyuk.

But I think Franzen has a more solid grip on the top-6 than Abdelkader does… maybe you think it’s the opposite.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 07/06/14 at 02:40 AM ET

calquake's avatar

But I think Franzen has a more solid grip on the top-6 than Abdelkader does… maybe you think it’s the opposite.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 07/06/14 at 03:40 AM ET

For whatever reason, Babs and Pav both seem to like Abdelkader on that line.  I agree Franzen should have a more solid grip on the top 6.  I was thinking it was more as a motivational comment towards Franzen.

Posted by calquake on 07/06/14 at 01:17 PM ET

Avatar

datsyuk would support whatever player he’s playing with. he’s never going to publicly say get that stone handed roster filler off my line. He needs a true sniper (not franzen) to feed pucks to.

Posted by brians neck on 07/06/14 at 02:06 PM ET

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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.