The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/06/14 at 05:30 PM ET
Updated 2x at 9:23 AM: The Red Wings' truncated summer camp schedule took a turn for the..."I guess we'll have to wait and see what the prospects and team thinks" today, and its schedule will continue (prior tomorrow's in-person training camp ticket sale at noon) as follows...
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
The camp will conclude with an 11 AM scrimmage on Tuesday.
The skill and skating drills for this summer's camp were completely absent Tomas Storm (skills) or Andy Weidenbach (skating), and the sessions only really lasted for 25-to-30 minutes. Previous camps used to anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes spent on each set of drills, and those sessions wouldn't last for 2 days (this camp ends with an 11 AM scrimmage on Tuesday); instead, the skill and skating drills would go on for 4 or 5 days, and the "team drill" portion of the camp wasn't nearly as important.
Director of player development Jiri Fischer and Griffins coach Jeff Blashill have chosen to balance this camp between on and off-ice instruction, and they want everything done at a much faster pace--so teams are doing drills simultaneously, one both teams are working out in the morning--and everyone involved will tell you that Peter Renzetti's workouts, their now-daily discussion with a nutritionist and classes regarding yoga, media training, etc. have become essential, so some of the on-ice emphasis has had to be cut as a result.
In general, the "learning" portion of the camp is done by 1 or 2 in the afternoon at the latest. Maximizing a four-to-six-hour window of learning and applying information at a professional pace and utilizing a professional, "You go to your workplace, you focus like nobody's business on getting the job done, and then you're done with your day, and hey, it's July in Traverse City, enjoy it" mentality all adds up to shorter, simpler on-ice work, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
I've just never seen it done this way before, and as someone who's been attending these things since they involved 90 minutes of instruction, 60-to-90 minutes of practice and a few hours of working out before players would go back to their hotel rooms near Joe Lousi Arena exhausted...It takes some getting used to.
As a person who's trying to gather information, it's also difficult to decide whether to try to get glimpses of both teams or to watch, and the post-practice workouts have yielded an incredibly difficult time just trying to speak to the Wings' draft picks and the players who've been here last year. I've gotten...I think 19 of the 43 players to speak with me, and that's due to a very concerted effort to interview as many people as possible.
If I get another 5 and speak with 3 of the players I've spoken with before--especially given that the youngsters will be packing their hockey bags and leaving right after Tuesday's scrimmage--I'll be happy.
Today I "picked" watching Team Yzerman over Team Lidstrom, though I did catch part of Team Lidstrom's practice.
Team Yzerman consists of...
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
71 River Rymsha
31 Jared Coreau
68 Andrew D'Agostini
The day actually began with Alexey Marchenko skating for a good fifteen minutes on his own, slowly but surely looping around the ice as the lights were turned on, testing his slightly tender left ankle (left seems to be the consensus as to which ankle had two surgical screws removed ten days ago), eventually getting a puck (after tying up his chin strap--Marchenko is a meticulous guy) and shooting a bit, and when Jared Coreau and Matt D'Agostini got onto the ice, Marchenko helped Jim Bedard and his assistant with the drills.
Marchenko circled around and spoke to a member of the Wings' training staff five or six times, so he wasn't left to his own devices by any stretch of the imagination. He continued to assist Coreau and D'Agostini with their warm-up drills (Coreau gave Marchenko a pat twice and Marchenko never fooled around with the goalies' rebounds--everything was by the book, business, trying to get things technically right and helping, and that's Marchenko for you). He exited just before Team Yzerman took to the ice at 9 AM, and after practice, he was in his warm-up outfit, ready to work out.
Richard Nedomlel did not participate in any drills with Team Lidstrom, but after their skill drills (they did the skill drills first) and practice, he was also in the locker room in his had-worked-out-earlier clothes with no sort of noticeable issues and his ever-present smile accounted for.
Team Lidstrom consists of...
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
82 Tomas Nosek
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
In terms of the goalies' warm-up drills, watching the 6'5," 235-pound Coreau and the 5'10," 180-pound D'Agostini do drills together is a fascinating study in contrasts. Coreau is actually the much smoother skater, and D'Agostini needs to work harder to get to where he's going, but there are aspects of Coreau's game where you'd think size would be an advantage and it's actually a disadvantage.
The goalies started with what I call an "X drill," starting at the center ice dot and skating forward toward the glove side blueline "dot," back to the bottom of the circle diagonally opposite that "dot," forward toward the blocker side "dot" and back, and then back to the middle, all while on their feet. That's where you could hear D'Agostini's skates digging in and Coreau gliding.
They then engaged in a center-ice-red-line drill in which they pushed from the bottom of the circle to center ice, dropped to the butterfly and flittered back using little "c cuts," they skated to the far edge of the circle and c-cutted their way back to the center ice dot, and then they skated hard to the side boards, and that's where D'Agostini's little legs allowed him to dig into the ice, while Coreau's big limbs had a harder time escaping from the horizontal plane...
And the goalies engaged in a very aggressive set of "horseshoe" drills today. They faced 5 shots from the "edges" of the horseshoe-shaped goal crease, with the goalies required to drop to their butterfly and push out toward the shooter--pushing the puck toward the shooter; they had to square up, standing up, on their blocker or glove side before dropping into the butterfly and sliding the opposite way to stop 3 shots (not pushed); they engaged in a drill in which the goaltender had to "square up" in a "triangle" play where Bedard would stand below the goal line, pass to his assistant at the bottom of the faceoff circle, and then Marchenko would take the pass at the near (or opposite) hash mark, with a drop-into-the-butterfly requirement.
The final drill involved a set of passes that almost looked like a "<" or a ">," with the goalies having to go against the grain as three passes were made from the top of the faceoff circle to the hash marks and then the bottom thereof, pretty much at the same "vertical" angle but at a different incidence to the net.
In these drills, both Coreau and D'Agostini displayed impeccable positioning and strong toes, but pucks would pop out of Coreau's glove and blocker, while D'Agostini would battle the high shots away, and would occasionally get beaten to the far side.
When the skaters got on the ice, things felt a little more familiar. Blashill likes his players to warm up by playing a 2-on-0 drill with 2 forwards skating up one side of a repository of players at center ice, and then he likes to add in a defenseman trailing the play, all starting with a dump-in either retrieved by the goaltender and played to a skater or a dump-in retrieved by the defender.
Despite the fact that the players were skating up on either side of center ice, Blashill yelled, “Middle of the ice, red line, don't do that stuff middle boards," essentially telling his players to skate up the gut both before and after they got around center ice instead of hugging the boards.
Then Blashill had the players engage in the 5-on-2 drill where defensemen at the "south" end of the ice chase down a dump-in, they pass the puck up to the forwards, the forwards pass the puck to a pair of defensemen at the "north" end of the ice, and those defensemen turn and help the forwards attack the defenders who chased the dump-in. The defenders' roles would reverse with a new set of forwards, and then the "attacking" defensemen would rotate out of the drill. Blashill was very insistent that the defensemen who were attacking "gapped up" with the forwards.
After a short stretch--and it should be noted that I haven't seen a center-of-the-ring stretch leader save goalies at the end of yesterday's morning skate--things got complicated.
The "white" players (Hodgson, Sandler, Johnstone, Cooper, Chelios, Globke and Holmstrom) took to the south end of the ice, the "red" players took to the north end (Bardreau, Baun, Mantha, Vahatalo, Gustafsson and Larkin), and they split up into 4 "repositories" along the half boards.
The defenders stood at the blueline faceoff dots, and they got ready for something a bit subtle:
Three forwards from each zone would line up. One forward would take a pass from his nearest side-board "repository" partner, the puck was sent to the point, the two other forwards would "stack" up as an immediate net-front man and a slot screen, and they would wait for a defenseman to shoot the puck. After that shot was taken, the defensemen (plural) would skate to the far blueline, take a pass from a repository of defensemen, and would reverse flow--with the forwards not too far behind the defense, having skated out to the neutral zone or nearly so--and all five players would race back in, and the defenseman would either set up a forward to skate in and pass to a teammate, or the forward who took the puck from the back-in-again defenseman would allow his partners to "stack" and then he would pass the puck to one of the two defensemen.
Essentially it was a drill in which a relatively close-in "to-the-point and screen" shot yielded all 5 players taking part in that first shot, skating out into the neutral zone to tag up and take another outlet pass, and then go back in again on the attack. I was very happy to see that the forwards would naturally rotate from passer to slot-screener and net-front screener, so while this drill was a little fuzzy to me, it made sense to them.
The rest of the practice wasn't about transition as much as it was about puck retention.
First, the goalies were brought to center ice as forwards and defensemen alike headed to the four faceoff circles, and as the goalies worked on slithering across the ice in an "AAAA" fashion, the skaters took part in one-on-one drills, trying to protect the puck from each other, with retaking possession not necessarily yielding coach's whistle or clearing the faceoff circle not necessarily yielding an end to the drill.
Disparities in size or strength didn't necessarily matter, though the Anthony Manthas of the world have an easier time in terms of protecting the puck with their wingspan.
With the goalies back in:
Then a strange but effective drill took place. Two players standing at the hash marks had to chase a lateral dump pass across the hash marks on the "glove" or "blocker" side of the goalie, and whoever got to the puck first was the attacker, and he could choose to drop the pass down low to a player below the goal line or high to a player standing on the blueline. The player and his "choice" became 2-on-1 attackers. Think puck pursuit yielding an odd-man situation in which puck retention could yield a shot or goal, but losing the puck battle to the "defender" who cleared it meant that the drill was over.
That drill then turned into a 1-on-1 where the "attacker" was able to instead pass the puck to a dedicated shooter who could meander anywhere along the perimeter of the faceoff dot, again, this time with the coach setting up the play by dumping the puck below the goal line, and a wrinkle was thrown in: “If there's a rebound you gotta tag up below the goal line"--which meant that the players would "tag up" by skating below the goal line, and whoever got to the puck first became the "attacker," while the second-place-finisher had to "defend." This "game" went on as long as the coach wanted it to.
The "shooters" would become the forwards integrated into the drill, and the longest-tenured player in said drill would swap out of action after the next coach's whistle. The flow of players into this drill worked very well.
Then the 1-on-1 "attacker vs defender with tag-up" rule became a 2-vs-2, with that dedicated faceoff-circle-shooter still in play, and the fight was on. The players got very, very physical, and at one point, as a "shooter," Axel Holmstrom popped the water bottle behind D'Agostini.
The final drill involved the bench-change 1-on-1's, 2-on-2's or 3-on-3's per the coach's choice.
After a 15-minute resurfacing, Team Yzerman prepared for its skill drills.
FOUR nets were in play--two along the boards at center ice, and two in their usual positions--and the "red and white" teams rotated between a set of two kinds of drills:
1. Those at center ice would take part in iterations of puck-tipping--and it should be noted that Lucas Peressini and Jake Paterson joined the fray here to provide actual goaltenders to tip pucks past. A player just to the left or right of the center ice faceoff dot would shoot pucks toward a tipping forward placed a few feet in front of the goalie, a la Tomas Holmstrom.
2. Those at the north end of the rink waited to be part of a drill in which one player was stationed at the front of the net, one player was stationed along the half boards, and one was on the blueline. RPI coach Seth Appert would begin the play by sliding a puck diagonally from the goal line to the "half boards" player, that player would pass to the blueliner player, and the blueline player would shoot the puck toward the net-front player, who would be joined by the "half boards" player in a 2-on-the-net jam play.
I'd describe this as a \ to / to 1 drill where the puck moved like a "<" or ">" before being shot toward the net.
3. At the south end of the rink, defensemen worked on drills in which they would take short passes from coaches, walk laterally along the blueline, and shoot the puck toward a "screening" forward. At some point the drill changed to have one defenseman chase a dump-in, get it back to the point man and help a dedicated "screener" in front, essentially mirroring the drill at the north end.
Those drills only took place for about 16 minutes of the allotted 35-to-40.
I tried to capture the scene with my cell phone. Hope it's better than nothing.
Then Team Yzerman got off the ice and walked to the "East Rink" to participate in Jiri Fischer's skating drills.
The drills were centered around the concept that players can skate backwards more effectively not by making a "C cut" using wide strides to push their skates out from under them and then back underneath them, but instead, by "snapping" a leg placed perpendicular to a straight-forward-and-backward skate back under the body. Fischer's been big on this one for a while.
Fischer asked the players to engage in a "snap back" with their torsos straight up (i.e. perpendicular to the ice) and their legs doing the work, and then he asked them to glide to the blue line, and the players did this drill in a big circle around the ice, snapping their left and then right legs behind them, to the point that there were a total of six "snap backs" as the players completed a big circuit around the ice.
To emphasize upper-body straightness, Fischer had the players take their sticks and hold them parallel to their shoulders with their palms facing forward, providing a little bit of stability as their legs remained "at 45-degree angles" making those "snap backs," and their torsos were supposed to be straight up/perpendicular to the ice, but man, there was a lot of wobbling and struggling. It was surprising to see the team's best skaters struggle at times and to see the little players do things more efficiently.
That went on for nine minutes, and then Fischer literally brought out...
The bunny hop. The players were going to skate backwards with the "snap back" and then literally drop to one knee, pop back up like a goalie almost jumping back up from a down position, twisting one's torso back from the "take a knee" position to opposite one's direction of travel, and there were three total "left knees" or "right knees" before the players skated back toward the north end of the ice (where all the drills originated).
Fischer then brought out two cones, two nets that he placed about five feet inside of the center ice blueline, pointing north, and he put the cones at the faceoff dots just outside the north end's blueline. He asked the players to skate around that cone either clockwise or counterclockwise, twisting toward the net they were closest to, to stop at the side of the net, and then to JUMP twice parallel to the net, skate back around the north-facing front of the net, and then skate to the south end of the ice.
The players on the "west" side were literally hopping on their left legs, and the ones on the "east" side were literally hopping on their right legs.
Fischer made things even harder when he placed a stick parallel to the nets, on the to-the-boards side, and he asked the players to repeat the drill while hopping THREE TIMES over that stick (and the players who were doing the first hippy-hop drill "clockwise" did it "counterclockwise," and vice versa).
Finally, Fischer placed cones at the hash marks of the south end, left the nets where they were, and he had one player skating backwards toward center ice using the "C" cut and then turning--along the boards--and the other player skating all the way to the nets placed at center ice, circling around the net on the "center ice" side and trying to cut the player who'd been skating backwards off.
Did people fall over? You bet, but the Baudreaus and Vahatalos were equally guilty there. Did the players whose torsos were supposed to be solid and their sticks held like levels wibble and wobble? Yep, but the Larkins and Manthas were equally guilty and equally innocent depending on the "rep."
Spirit of the thing? S3, needs to wait for the S6 and buy it, methinks:
Instead of general assessments, I'm going to offer what I can in terms of players' abilities to "protect the puck," "tip/screen" and "skate" (and then a short bottom line)--and again, this is a summer camp, it's not a prospect tournament, and we're talking about skill drills here, not in-game situations. And I "noticed" some players more than others as I'm watching the draft picks.
84 Kyle Baun:
A) Protecting the puck: Baun knows how to make the most of his 6'2," 204-pound frame. He is very good at protecting the puck as someone who seems to be a "space-maker." He sticks his arm out, sticks his leg out, uses his shoulders well.
B) Tip/Screen: He was OK.
C) Skating: Baun is a good skater. He's not particularly fast but there's nothing particularly awkward about him either.
Bottom line: I know he's very talented in his own right, but at this camp, he's been the forward who's talented enough to stick with Mantha and Larin while mostly making space for them. If he can step up at Cornell in his junior and senior years, maybe he will stand out on his own.
85 Cole Bardreau:
A) Protecting the puck: At 5'10" and 184 pounds, he can be pushed around.
B) Tip/Screen: Didn't see enough to make an assessment.
C) Skating: Strong skater, fast and agile.
Bottom line: I've liked what I've seen from Bardreau in terms of his overall effort, but whether he's a pro in the making, I can't say. He's got a year left at Cornell.
And I want the record to state that as soon as these young men put on Red Wings jerseys, they are Red Wings to me, and I root for them, so don't think that I make a negative or non-comment wanting to disparage a try-out. The Red Wings' organization chose to invite these players--they must be special if they got that invite.
24 Dean Chelios:
A) Protecting the puck: Chelios can be overpowered at times, but he's just so much thicker and stronger than he was a couple of years ago. He's faithfully listed at 6'2" and 185 pounds, way up from about 6' and 155 pounds, and he is like his father in that he uses his thighs, butt and elbows to block opposing players.
B) Tip/Screen: Chelios can tip and screen decently enough, but he's a screen-and-chaser. He'll get his butt in front of the net to battle for rebounds.
C) Skating: Chelios has always been a very strong natural skater, and while there was some upper-body movement going on, he did a very good job technically and is a fast, powerful skater.
Bottom line: I really like Dean's jam, his continual improvement and his surprisingly near-elite level of offensive playmaking abilities. If he can put everything together, he'll go further than the ECHL. He's just going to need some time.
37 Mark Cooper:
A) Protecting the puck: did tolerably well.
B) Tip/Screen: At 6'2" and 185 pounds, he's got a big body to move out of the way.
C) Skating: Wasn't noticeable during the skating drills, which can be a good thing and can be a bad thing.
Bottom line: He's trying, but he's sort of out there. Back to Bowling Green, two more years to find yourself.
45 Alex Globke:
A) Protecting the puck: Globke is big, 6'2" and 194 pounds, and he can use his size to his advantage and hang onto the puck.
B) Tip/screen: See above.
C) Skating: Skating can be an issue for Globke. He's a wonderful straight-line skater but needs some work in terms of his technique.
Bottom line: Globke exploded toward the net to get a rebound in the scrimmage, and he uses his size to his advantage, but I see tools and part of a toolbox. Needs to go back to Lake State and have a strong sophomore season.
17 Hayden Hodgson:
A) Protecting the puck: Didn't stand out for good or bad reasons.
B) Tip/Screen: He's 6'2" and 204 pounds. You'd think he'd be a moose in front of the net, but he's not.
C) Skating: Physical size does not necessarily equal a massively powerful stride.
Bottom line: His physical skills and his hockey skills aren't anywhere close to each other. High size, not so much skill. He's just 18, but you wonder what's actually there for the Sarnia Sting forward.
96 Axel Holmstrom:
A) Protecting the puck: Axel is still growing into his body, but he's already 6' and 198 pounds, so he's stocky, and when he's determined to not let you get the puck, he actually uses his skating and stick skills to get himself out of trouble.
B) Tip/Screen: No, he's not Tomas Holmstrom 2. But he sure is good at going to the front of the net and staying there. He's not a master-tipper, but I liked what I saw and I thought he showed good potential.
C) Skating: A little clunky but he gets around and gets around in a hurry. What he lacks in any sort of natural ability--in any category--he makes up for in hustle and determination.
Bottom line: Just drafted, but he's very exciting to watch and is as skilled as he is determined. He's going to be something good--a "power center"--and he just needs experience and he needs to continue working hard to get smoother around his rough edges.
80 David Johnstone:
A) Protecting the puck: 5'11" and 175 pounds, he does an OK job of protecting the puck, but he's a little light on his feet and can be pushed around.
B) Tip/screen: Didn't see anything special there.
C) Skating: Ditto, which is frustrating, because I keep on hearing what a wonderfully talented player the Michigan Tech senior is, but I haven't seen it here. I hear he's great at Michigan Tech. I hope he gets better.
Bottom line: Skill set may not be best-suited for a summer camp.
25 Dylan Larkin:
A) Protecting the puck: Larkin has exactly one thing like the player he looks up to, Jonathan Toews: although he's 17, he's a stocky 6'1" and 190 pounds, and he's equal parts skill and gritty determination in terms of grabbing you, pulling you, tugging you and doing whatever else is necessary to get you away from him. There's a real edge toh in the puck protection drills.
B) Tip/screen: Also a bit of a ditto here, because he just refuses to give up on pucks. If they're not in the net, he's pissed off.
C) Skating: Lots of natural ability, very technically proficient, a good glider and he digs in really well, and he will do his best to beat you to a point on the ice even if you're going to get there before him. When he meets you there, the puck's going to be his.
Bottom line: all-around he's already worth that 15th overall draft pick, but all-around, he's 17 and needs to put in work in the weight room and on the ice to make sure that he takes all the fantastic things he can do and pushes them up from "elite" to "professional" levels. Very exciting prospect who needs some time to grow up inside and out.
Worth the hype, but he's got to stay grounded given that he's a Michigan-born Michigan man. I don't want to see him turn into another Josh Langfeld, sitting in the back of a classroom goofing off and getting a "C" because he's an athlete. Those types of athletes still thrive at Michigan, and he can't be one of them.
39 Anthony Mantha:
A) Protecting the puck: Like Larkin, a little of what he does is illegal, but he sticks out that rear end, he gets his thighs out, he gets his elbows out, he uses that big back and those big shoulders, he dekes and dangles and cuts, he knows how to protect the puck fantastically well.
B) Tip/screen: He's actually quite good at the screening part and his tipping is a work in progress. He's certainly trying to be better at it and he does score goals by tipping the puck, but he's not a tight-in tipper.
C) Skating: Sometimes Mantha relies upon his natural abilities too much. For such a big man at 6'4" and 210-ish pounds, he can really glide out there and he can take a lot of shortcuts, and he's had to learn them to play those two-minute shifts. If he works on his skating a little bit I think he'll be that much more difficult to stop.
Bottom line: Yes, he is nearly a man among boys, but he is also a player who is just turning pro, and his bushel-full of superstar-in-the-making qualities need at least a little pro experience before he tries to steal someone's job. I fully believe that he is an elite sniper, but he's going to have to prove he's ready during the fall prospect tournament. Here, he looks a little winded from the Memorail Cup.
83 Luke Sandler:
A) Protecting the puck: 6'1," 202, you'd think that he'd be able to use that body a little better.
B) Tip/screen: See above.
C) Skating: He looked solid in terms of his technical skills.
Bottom line: Having played in the BCHL for an extended period of time may not have helped the big guy earn a college scholarship. He's been present, not necessarily accounted for.
94 Julius Vahatalo:
A) Protecting the puck: When he has positional advantage he does very well at this because he's a big gangly 6'5" forward, but he's so skinny that he can be knocked off the puck.
B) Tip/screen: He likes to lurk around the periphery of the crease, not tip pucks while standing in front of goalies.
C) Skating: Gangly, high center of balance, very good skills and technique but his arms and legs are all over the place. He needs to work on this quite a bit, though the speed portion is already there in spades.
Bottom line: Vahatalo said that he wants to be like Mikko Koivu. If he comes up here in two years thirty pounds heavier than his 191-pound-listed weight, which might be generous, maybe. But what Vahatalo is involves a massive-sized player who can make plays and lurk around the net hunting down loose pucks. He's going back to TPS Turku and will be playing in what I believe is the best all-round European league because of its physicality, but there's a lot of promise here.
Defense--let's switch it up to "shot" for the defensemen instead of tip/screen:
94 Kevin Clare:
A) Protecting the puck: Is truly 6'1" and 210 pounds, is a fully-grown 22-year-old man, knows how to stick his rear out and protect the puck.
B) Shot: As a graduating senior who didn't score a goal this past season at Michigan, he looks like...Someone who's better-suited to being defensively-oriented.
C) Skating: Decent, not great, not terrible.
Bottom line: He's another player who you hope does well but just...Don't know what to make of because he's been "there."
75 James De Haas:
A) Protecting the puck: Not all that great. De Haas is 6'3" and 205 pounds, but he's so top-heavy that you can get his shoulders and chest off the puck and the rest of his body will follow.
B) Shot: Very good shot, whether it's a slap shot or a wrist shot, it's not heavy but it gets through and it's accurate.
C) Skating: Again, the top-heaviness hurts him. He's super fast for a man his size and he's very, very agile, but that top-heaviness forces him to expend more energy doing stuff that takes other players far less time and energy.
Bottom line: Project defenseman, 3 years left at Clarkson, he should be someone we're talking about as a top-four guy 3 years from now. Puck-rusher as opposed to puck-mover.
27 Joe Hicketts:
A) Protecting the puck: so squat at 186 pounds on a 5'10" frame that he's really hard to knock off the puck.
B) Shot: Hard, high and hard, really good aim.
C) Skating: His low center of gravity allows him to make up for his lack of "size" and he's a very maneuverable skater, but he's not the fastest guy out of the blocks. I like his lateral mobility and his transitions from stops to starts and one direction to the other.
Bottom line: He's got grit, he's got heart, he's got skill, but he's a small defenseman who was passed over in his draft year because playing for the Victoria Royals and putting up solid numbers in a half-season is great when you're 6'5,' not so great when you're his size. I think he'll be invited to the fall camp but he's got to work that much harder to prove himself because he's not big.
47 Alexey Marchenko:
Bottom line: He didn't take part in any of the skill drills, or the team drills, but he is a mobile skater, he is very strong up the middle of his body, he's a technician in terms of playing the angles and steering people off the puck with his poke-checking, his shot is hard when he's not rusty and putting it off the heel of his stick and his passing is excellent. He will have to get healthy and try to steal someone's job, but even watching him today, you see the calm poise and quiet confidence of someone who's a professional hockey player. He just is what he is, really good, nearly ready for NHL duty--or ready for NHL duty on a team without as much depth.
58 Mike McKee:
A) Protecting the puck: McKee can get bumped off or skated around from time to time, but he's 6'5" and 250 pounds. How do you think it is trying to get the puck away from him if you're not Anthony Mantha? Not easy!
B) Shot: Big. Mean. Powerful. But accurate, too, and he's got a really good wrister.
C) Skating: he was paired with De Haas or McNulty in the skating drills, and let's just say that he didn't glide very well, but he held his own balance-wise and he is a way, way way better skater than the uncoordinated man I saw two years ago.
Bottom line: He's no longer the "#7 defenseman" he was in his draft year. He could be a bottom-pair guy who makes an impact. He's in control of himself, or at least better control, he works hard, his attitude is good and he's got more skill than you'd think.
74 Marc McNulty:
A) Protecting the puck: He can be blown off the puck, by that I mean with breath. Sometimes McNulty just needs to be shoved the right way and that gangly 6'6," 191-pound frame goes off on its own. But he can also be quite tenacious and poised. Inconsistent.
B) Shot: For a skinny string-bean he has a clapper of a shot that's hard, accurate low or high, and released quickly as a snapper slapper or one-timer.
C) Skating: Despite being gangly, he's got fantastic lateral mobility and he has improved over time. He's actually quite smooth and downright fast for a man of his size, bordering on explosively fast. If he had some mass to push off of, he'd be even better.
Bottom line: Needs to play another year or two in the WHL and needs to grow into that body. He really has an elite outlet pass and great vision, but he's got to figure his moving parts out.
71 River Rymsha:
A) Protecting the puck: The 6'2," 195-pound Huntington Woods native is barely keeping up, but it's because he's 17 and has been playing in the NAHL.
B) Shot: Not overpowering to say the least.
C) Skating: Didn't fall over but hasn't stood out.
Bottom line: Good size, local roots, but he's got to go somewhere and start playing more competitive hockey. He's very young so time is on his side.
Goal--I'm going with holistic assessments here:
31 Jared Coreau: Coreau continues to basically put a disastrous pro debut season behind him. He's still someone who has to work very hard on being a second and third-shot netminder, and as he's 6'5" and 235 pounds, he's got to work on his mobility when he's down in his butterfly, but he is a fantastic technical netminder, and if he can get a win or two under his belt, the pop-outs from his glove will disappear and he should finally build the foundation for a good pro career. He's got all the tools, all the mental maturity and all the determination to do so.
68 Andrew D'Agostini: D'Agostini has all the tools and mental maturity to prove some other team that he's not just a small goalie. He has battled like nobody's business for the past two summers, and his status as 5'10" and 180 pounds does nothing to diminish his aplomb. He's just not a big goalie and he's not playing in the summer camp of a team that's going to give him a job.
One-liners about the other team:
Here's a crappy video of some of their drills.
72 Andreas Athanasiou: Took off the nice gloves he was breaking in and is using ripped-palm gloves to get a better feel for his stick, and he's apparently teaching the guys Euchre, which you can do when you've proved that you're ready to turn pro and play as at least a third-line center.
81 Michael Babcock: He told me that he's going to play for the USHL's Fargo Force for one more year, and I hope he eventually grows into his body, because he is truly a heart-and-soul grinder.
59 Tyler Bertuzzi: It's hard to keep someone whose job is to score while driving people nuts interested when he can't drive other people nuts.
86 Blake Clarke: Talent is there, talent is there, brain may or may not be.
92 Christoffer Ehn: Hooked on Hockey's Kevin Sporka said that Ehn wants to be like Markus Krueger, and that's a good place to start.
76 Darby Llewellyn: You see him being solid and think there's something more there. Or hope anyway.
69 Zach Nastasiuk: If his birthday wasn't holding him back he'd turn pro, but he's going to go back to Owen Sound, be the captain, and try to be a dominant player.
63 David Pope: Sniper rather desperately needs four years of college to grow into his very lanky 6'2" frame.
22 Brandon Robinson: I just haven't seen much out of him.
67 Tylor Spink: Speedy, playmaker, scorer, but can he do more than dominate at the NCAA level?
73 Tyson Spink: See also: Tylor Spink.
78 Dominic Turgeon: Every time I watch him I think, "He's faster than I thought he'd be" or, "He's better offensively than advertised," and both of those things are good.
82 Tomas Nosek: The gangly Czech has Datsyuk hands from time to time and you get excited because he skates so very well and because he's got skill, but he's got to figure out this whole being in North America thing, never mind the North American game.
95 Scott Cznarowczan: Have not seen much from him save wide shoulders.
46 Trevor Hamilton: Like his jam, like his skill, hope he's invited to the fall tournament.
51 Ben Marshall: Skills are superb, has matured by leaps and bounds, needs to be absolutely dominant in his senior year at Minnesota because he's "small."
77 Richard Nedomlel: I want and hope that Richard becomes a #6 guy instead of a #6/7. I want him to play regularly.
64 Ryan Obuchowski: Not bad, not great.
79 Logan Schmidt: For 5'11" and 169, he gives you his all.
53 Nick Zotl: Big, mean and not suited for a summer development camp.
36 Jake Paterson: I would like to hear some humility out of him, or some personality, eventually.
38 Lucas Peressini: He's got size and got the vampire squid thing going on, but he's not going to get a spot here.
Again, here are your interviews...
In terms of the interviews I was able to snag, myself and Kevin Sporka spoke with Julius Vahatalo for about seven minutes, and after dealing with a pair of Swedes whose English was better than mine in Axel Holmstrom and Christoffer Ehn, Vahatalo's halting English was a surprise. Vahatalo said that he's dealing with some significant adjustments in terms of playing on a narrower rink and at a faster North American pace, but he seemed to be taking in quite a bit from the camp, and the 6'5," 191-pound winger from TPS Turku was forthright regarding his strengths and what he needs to work on, as well as the camp experience as a whole:
Team Yzerman's players had to go to a post-practice workout, so I was only able to snag one more interview, and I had to pick between Marc McNulty and James De Haas. I spoke with McNulty, who's 6'6" but still skinny at 192 pounds, about the camp and his learning experiences, his progression into a top-pair defenseman with the Prince George Cougars, and his thoughts about still having to get "bigger" and/or stronger:
Team Lidstrom wasn't the team I followed today, but I was able to engage in more interviews as their off-ice workout was completed prior to their skate.
I caught some of Winging it in Motown's Kyle McIlmurray's interview with David Pope, and I was able to ask the 6'3" sniper, who's going to the University of Nebraska-Omaha this upcoming season, about the adjustments he's making coming out of the BCHL, some of his assets and his planned major:
I really wanted to speak to Ben Marshall as the 5'9"-ish defenseman is entering an absolutely crucial senior season at the University of Minnesota, and while our interview was brief, Marshall jammed a significant amount of content into it. He has a great demenaor regarding the fact that he's going to have to prove that he's worth a pro contract by having a huge season, and he talked about the ways in which he's trying to improve his game:
I must regrettably report that Jake Paterson is something of a cliche machine--his easygoing manner contributes to this status--so I tried to get him to open up about the turning-pro experience and his thoughts about probably playing in Toledo, as did Hooked on Hockey's Kevin Sporka, but we didn't get much.
I didn't get it on "tape," but I had a good chat with Andreas Athanasiou about the fact that he's wearing old Reebok gloves with holes in the palms again. He told me that his new CCM stick is so light that he could barely feel it, and as he was breaking in a pair of new gloves, he wanted to use the old ones to get a better handle on his stick. He thought it was amusing that I remembered that little detail, and he mentioned it to Paterson.
He also told Sporka that when the Wings' prospects have their off-time, their favorite passtime is playing Euchre. They've loved the city, but hockey players are hockey players, and they love to play cards.
I had a solid interview with Michael Babcock, who told me that he's going to play one more season with the USHL's Fargo Force before going to Merrimack. He's an incredibly positive and positively intense person who understands that being 5'9" and 160 pounds stacks the deck against him, but he's okay with that:
At perhaps a different end of the developmental spectrum, Zach Nastasiuk could easily turn pro with the Grand Rapids Griffins this year, but he revealed that an early birthdate prevents him from doing so right off the hop, so he's going back to Owen Sound to captain the Attack for a reason. Nastasiuk talked about his strengths and weaknesses--he's always one to point out that he needs to improve his foot speed and offensive abilities--and he spoke about taking on a leadership role both at this camp and in Owen Sound, he talked about the concept of trying to be a dominant player in the OHL and the lessons he's trying to take with him:
Finally, Griffins coach Jeff Blashill spoke with the non-DetroitRedWings.com/Fox Sports Detroit media for the first time, and you better damn well believe that I made sure to maximize our time with the coach. I asked most of the questions about the truncated camp schedule, its "pro pace," his takes on some of the standouts (Kyle, Kevin and Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski also asked superb questions), his thoughts on utilizing Derek Lalonde and Seth Appert (the Toledo Walleye's new coach and RPI's coach, respectively), his thoughts about the skill drills no longer including Weidenbach or Storm, his thoughts about the off-ice portion of the camp, his take on NCAA player participation and the limited window he has to work with said players, whether they're Wings prospects or not, and I asked him about the ways in which he hopes to build the foundation for the prospect tournament here with a bunch of young and turning-pro players.
EDIT: There's some weird interference going on at times...It must've been tons of sound recorders and cell phones in proximity or something. I'll reupload the file to see whether it works better. Bear with it if you can because it's worth your time...I guess that's what happens when you've got people using cell phones to record audio and the rink is in a notorious "dead zone." :(
This might be the only time Blashill speaks with the non-embedded folks, so you're damn well right, I made sure we got 12 minutes of his time.
In the "MSM" vein, WITH NEW STUFF!
Via RedWingsFeed, the Red Wings (Dan Mannes does the vast majority of their video work, and he's outstanding) posted a video about the prospects' yoga class yesterday...
An interview with Kyle Baun, Bobby Baun's grandson...
And a short interview with Dylan Larkin...
The Wings posted a scrimmage photo gallery, too...
And while I was writing this, the Wings posted videos of Blake Clarke...
The Wings and FSD posted Blashill videos...
Fox Sports Detroit's Andrea Nelson posited a profile of Anthony Mantha, quoting director of player development Jiri Fischer and coach Blashill about Mantha's potential:
Mantha had a phenomenal 2013-14 season with Val d'Or, earning CHL Player of the Year, QMJHL Most Valuable Player, and helped the Foreurs capture the QMJHL championship. He totaled 120 points in 57 regular-season games, and added 38 points in 24 playoff games. Even Wings head coach Mike Babcock found himself at a few of the Foreurs games to watch the 6-foot-4 forward in action.
"He had a great year so I know Mike Babcock, he's excited," Fischer said. "He went to see him playing in the playoffs and he went to Val d'Or and watched Anthony a couple games."
Although Mantha experienced a lot of success in the QMJHL last season, the key to whether or not he will join the Wings in the future is how he transitions from the junior league to the professional league.
"I think everybody would say he's got the skill set to be really, really good," said Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. "How good? You never know until guys get to the next level. The key for him is once he gets to the next level, how quickly can he transition his game, learning how to do the same things he did in juniors against better competition, and that's just a process. It'll be a process when he gets to main camp."
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article about the camp invites...
“There are only seven rounds in the NHL draft. Lots of guys end of slipping through the cracks for multiple reasons,” said Jeff Blashill, the AHL Grand Rapids coach who running the on-ice practices this week at Centre Ice Arena. “Maybe they’re late bloomers. There are definitely guys out here who are going to sign NHL contracts. I don’t know who for sure, but there will be guys who play in the NHL.
By no means does not being picked in the draft mean it’s the end of the NHL road for some of these guys. The journeys for Clarke and Baun have led them on different courses, but neither young star is ready to concede his dream of one day playing for an NHL franchise.
“I think I was a little bit of a late-bloomer, so the draft wasn’t exactly what I was looking for,” said Baun, a 6-foot-2 forward who is entering his third collegiate season at Colgate. “Looking back on it now I think it was almost a positive being a free agent because I kind of have the opportunity to pick a team that is interested in me.”
The league is filled with examples of undrafted players who latched on as free agents. Last season, the Red Wings’ roster boosted two such cases with defenseman Danny DeKeyser and center Luke Glendening making considerable contributions in Detroit’s quest to make the playoffs for a 23rd straight time. Both Michigan-born players went undrafted, attended the Wings’ development camp, and eventually signed a free-agent contract after their collegiate playing days.
“I coached Dan DeKeyser when he was a freshman at Western Michigan, and I saw him start to get 20-something options in what team was the right team to give him the best chance to get to the NHL,” Blashill said. “Whether it’s Clarke or someone else, these guys are going to have that option. It doesn’t matter if you were drafted in the first round, the fifth round, the seventh round or not drafted at all. That doesn’t dictate if you’re going to make it. There are other opportunities that other guys don’t have and one of those is a great opportunity in the fact that you can kind of pick and choose your team.”
When talking about his game Axel said, “It’s the first game, I didn’t expect so much, but it is the first game, only the first game, hopefully it’s getting better. But in the corner I am strong on the puck so that feels great.”
What impressed me most about Axel was his patience on the ice, he showed little to no nerves during the game and out waited players on the other team, which allowed him time to find the right play and create openings in the defense for his teammates.
Axel talked about his patience during the game, “I thought when I went out, play my game that is why I [am] here, so I am not going to throw the puck away that is not how I play. So I thought that and I didn’t.”
Hooked on Hockey's Kevin Sporka posited his second-day observations...
Christoffer Ehn had a particularly good morning as well. He demonstrated very good passing skills, and good puck work as well. He’s a very good stickhandler and does well on breakaways. You can tell that he’s Swedish by watching him finesse the puck.
Tomas Nosek looks like he’s still adjusting to this new environment. He’s a good passer, and can dazzle with the puck when he wants to. It’s still difficult to get a good read on him.
Richard Nedomlel was solid as always, and he appears ready to make the AHL jump. A 4-time attendee of this camp, he’s improved year after year. He will bring a style of physical play that Detroit/Grand Rapids haven’t seen in a very long time. When he lines up an opponent, look out, because he hits hard.
FYI from Winging it in Motown:
And the Blue Angels performed for a second time over Traverse City this Sunday, but I guess you can only attend so many airshows:
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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.