Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings summer development camp 2014, day 3: interviews with Vahatalo, Nastasiuk, Blashill & more

Aside from Richard Nedomlel, who was out with an undisclosed and very minor injury, all of the prospects who took part in yesterday's scrimmage skated in today's team practices and skill drills at the Red Wings' summer development camp, and Alexey Marchenko took more than a few turns prior to the main practice, skating on his own, speaking with the medical staff a few times, and helping Jim Bedard and his assistant warm up the goalies prior to Team Yzerman's skate.

T'was dark, but this is mine, and I think Marchenko had surgery on his left ankle (the side of his broken ankle was never revealed) as he was testing his left leg gingerly. Given that he's 10 days out from having two surgical screws removed, however, he looked good, and he engaged in a workout with the morning group, so all is well:

The Red Wings' summer campers took part in both "team" drills and a set of skating and skill development drills--minus Andy Weidenbach and Tomas Storm--and the players seemed to do pretty darn well given the fatigue they were battling from the previous day's scrimmage, though I will tell you about some "bunny hop" drills in which several prospects took spills later.

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, via RedWingsFeed, the Red Wings 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.

Update: This is my version of "far away, so close!"

It's Ken Holland's Blackberry, which sat unattended for a good five minutes. And it's just a slide-to-unlock lock. He and Kris Draper were taking and receiving text messages from who knows who and keeping up on the Wimbledon Men's Final while watching Team Lidstrom practice.

Update #2: Fox Sports Detroit posted a video of Blashill's interview. This was the equitable part of the interview:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


RWBill's avatar

There’s a little mistake, the interview under “Blashill” really must be Mike Babcock.

Posted by RWBill on 07/06/14 at 02:15 PM ET

Mistercristo's avatar

Ken Holland’s BlackBerry: exclusively for solitaire.

Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye's garage, circa 1987 on 07/07/14 at 11:28 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

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.


Recommended Sportsbook