The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/07/14 at 06:53 PM ET
The 4th day of the Red Wings' summer development camp is usually 4 of 7. For the past two years, there's been a break added into the camp to ensure that the campers can rest and rejuvenate a bit, but pro pace is pro pace, so the everything-in-a-short-period-of-time camp involves go-go-going this summer.
That might change in the future--very thankfully, the Red Wings' coaches, director of player development Jiri Fischer and the management view this as something that can be tweaked or improved as necessary--but a change in the present yielded a significant amount of...correction...and a scrimmage whose scoring results reflected the day's message.
Put bluntly, the players were surprisingly spry after Saturday's scrimmage, but yesterday's skill development sessions seemed find the players' fatigue wall. Today, the team made a last-minute schedule change, having Teams Yzerman and Lidstrom practice simultaneously from about 9:10 to 9:50 AM, focusing on defensive drills and "backside pressure."
Coach Blashill's voice got quite the workout not only because his checking drills were complex, but also because the players were dragging their rear ends and required a significant amount of correction.
After the ice at the West Rink was resurfaced, the team held a 36-minute "informal" scrimmage, playing 12 running-clock minutes of 5-on-5 hockey, 12 minutes of 4-on-4 hockey, and then 12 minutes of 3-on-3 hockey before engaging in a 4-round shootout.
The emphasis is on "informal" because the score went up on the scoreboard as 3-2 Yzerman (Larkin and Mantha's "red team" defeated Athanasiou and Nosek's "white team"; Richard Nedomlel and Tyler Bertuzzi did not participate for Team Lidstrom, though Bertuzzi practiced), but there were no announcements of goals, and even the media types watched players skate back to the bench for a buzzer-indicated change, though that a goaltender stopped the puck, and all of a sudden the scoreboard would change.
On Tuesday, the summer camp will conclude with a "formal" scrimmage held at 11 AM, likely consisting of 2 25-minute periods in which the first 5 minutes of each period are a running clock and the last 20 minutes of each period are stop-time, with a shootout concluding the affair regardless of the score.
Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish told me that the management had apparently decided that they wanted to keep every day a little different, so today's schedule nixed the skill drills and focused on a standard-length practice, a message-learning shootout and a post-scrimmage workout (thus the very limited number of interviews), but as someone who's been watching these in person since 2007, and as someone who's watched the skating and skill development "classes" whittle down from 45-to-60 minutes of instruction from Andy Weidenbach and Tomas Storm for five or six days to 25-to-30 minutes of instruction for one day...
The coaches and management know better than I do, and the emphasis of this camp has slowly shifted from on-ice skill development to learning the Red Wings' systems of play and then focusing on fitness, nutrition and the other demands placed upon professional athletes--to the point that the official schedules handed out to the Wings' coaches and management now say "orientation camp" or "fitness camp" instead of "skill development" or "development"--but the question as to whether what a group of about 6 new draft picks, 13 or 14 players already drafted and 20-some college or Major Junior-playing free agents (most of whom won't return) should be focusing on one aspect of their overall development over the other is a hard question that people like Jiri Fischer have to juggle.
So this is their proving ground, and the players are both the team's students and their test subjects. That's how these things really do work.
The best sight of the day might have been this (and again, pardon the 2-year-old cell phone camera work):
That's Alexey Marchenko taking some hard laps and going in clockwise and counterclockwise circles, testing his ankles (it is my strong guess that his left ankle's the one that was surgically repaired) and occasionally speaking with a member of the medical staff. Marchenko's a bit of a technician, so he'd get frustrated when he was given a pair of pucks to work with, and his shots and passes shanked off the heel of his blade because his leg strength is still a bit wonky.
He kept pushing, passing or shooting those pair of pucks up the ice so that he could use them, and when the goaltenders came out to do their warm-ups, Marchenko assisted Jim Bedard and OSU goalie coach Jeff Salajko (that's his assistant's name, I finally asked the Wings about him) in getting Jared Coreau, Jake Paterson, Andrew D'Agostini and Lucas Peressini ready for the day.
At this point, goalie warm-up drills have taken on a familiar feel. The goaltenders start off with stand-up skating drills, and the "A" shape of their skittering across the blueline has taken more of an ^I^I^I^ shape, where the goalies are pushing forward to the top of a triangle, pushing back to the bottom of the next triangle, and then skating forward and backward, up and down like an I.
Then the goalies would drop on to one leg and t-push with the other laterally, going from one side of the ice to the other, to work on "t-pushes" with both legs.
That drill evolved into a drop-into-the-butterfly and slide phenomenon:
At one point, Bedard and Salajko had the goaltenders slide forward in a diaginal /, then drop to the leg and turn to their left (or right), looking like Jiri Fischer's players as they tried to skate backwards by "taking a knee" at 45-degree angles on Sunday.
The rest of the drills were more predictable, and involved Marchenko helping the goalies make toe saves at the half boards, stop pucks atop the "horseshoe"-shaped goal crease, with gloves set up to allow one of the three "coaches" to take one-timers that the goalies would stop while making "recovery" saves, pushing back across the crease from a butterfly or a one-pad-down position, and the final drill involved the goalies having to slide back and forth across the middle of the crease as they made toe saves on a pair of against-the-grain one-timers.
Jeff Blashill and Team Lidstrom took to the ice at 9:12 AM, a little late by practice standards, and he, Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde and Wings assistant coach/video coordinator Keith McKittrick's drills drills were "intermediate-to-advanced" from the get-go (Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek, Walleye assistant coach Tom Watson and RPI coach Seth Appert helmed Team Yzerman's practice at David's Rink).
The first drill involved a pair of cones set up at 5 and 15 feet perpendicular to the faceoff dots, and a "team" of 3 skaters would make a pass from player to player, they'd continue to skate up the ice through the middle thereof, and they'd try to make one more pass through the far end's faceoff circle "cones," with that pass taking them back to one of the "four corners of the rink" player repositories.
The wrinkle here involved the fact that they were chased by 3 "defenders" who were trying to take the puck away.
The second drill involved those "four corners" players going up on a 2-on-0 with 2 lateral passes made as they chugged all the way up the ice, skating around a coach positioned at the center of each blueline, 1 pass, 2 pass, try to take a shot--and almost immediately, Blashill had 2 trailing players chase the 2 puck-carriers to present some "backside pressure."
The "shooters" would become the "trailers," who had to haul ass back to the other end of the ice to chase two new "shooters," and then the "trailers" would rotate out of the drill.
At 9:23, the players stretched, and for the first time, someone led them. Andreas Athanasiou led the minute-long stretch, and he led the stretch at the end of practice, too.
The next drill involved a set of 2 player repositories at the half boards, on the goalie's blocker, a.k.a. the right half boards. One player would skate up to center ice with a puck, play give-and-go with a coach there, get the puck back, skate the other way and shoot, and then trail the person that was behind them in line as they played the "skate with the puck to center, give-and-go, turn back and shoot" game.
This "shadowing" drill had a live puck, as it were, so the trailer could steal the puck.
The "white" and "red" forwards were separated and had a few defensemen with them (red: for the day: Spink, Spink, Athanasiou, Vahatalo, Nosek, Nastasiuk, Sandler; white: Robinson, Turgeon, Babcock, Clarke, Hodgson, Pope, Bertuzzi, Ehn; black: Zotl, Czarnowczan, Schmidt, Hamilton, Marshall, Obuchowski; the goalies are Paterson and Peressini), and they would "change ends."
The drills theoretically started and stopped at the whistles, but the players had a hard time keeping up, so Blashill reminded them of that fact; McKittrick had to bang the boards to emphasize the pace at one point, I heard Blashill yell, "Why is that happening, wy can't you seal off?" when the trailers were getting the puck too easily, and it was evident that even the players were frustrated.
How frustrated? They were paying so much attention to detail, or at least trying, that the part of the drill that involved possibly skating in and hopefully scoring on the goaltender became an afterthought.
At 9:37, while Ken Holland was gesticulating wildly to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose (you notice that Ken Holland talks with his hands. A lot), Blashill gave the players a long lecture about being strong on the puck, attempting to simulate backside pressure, and he literally told players, "You've gotta be on his ass, you've got to be tough."
Chunks of players lined up in the "4 half boards" and in a repository of defensemen at center ice, and the drill involved the half-boards players passing to each other--one "gave" and "went," skating up toward the blueline--and a defenseman would come in and pressure that winger as he skated up the ice, to the far blueline, and then hooked a left--like an inverse "L."
The defenseman starting from a stop at center ice had to catch the "skater" going through center ice with a boatload of speed and then skating against the grain.
You would think that the player with speed has the advantage, especially in a puck battle, but the defensemen were winning battles against the Babcocks and Athanasious--the speedsters--with relative ease.
Bertuzzi got chastised for being soft on a drill, and that was the second time in about twenty minutes that I heard his name very audibly mentioned. Maybe he was banged-up, as Fish suggested, but this was a day where Bertuzzi was looking into the crowd too often and looking off into the distance, and that's his issue; his skill levels are superb for a player of his job description, but having recently graduated from high school, he's a "very young" 18 going on 19..
Anyway, the final drill, according to my notebook, reads up as this: "THIS IS COMPLICATED."
Blashill ended the instructional portion of the summer development camp with what was a Hockey Calculus drill right out of Mike Babcock's playbook, and it resulted in players falling over and me taking almost the entire drill to figure out that it was a "full-court press":
It was a 5-on-5 drill where three forwards would start the play with a "reverse" pass behind the net, and as the "down low" player was "sealed," he would pass it to the other "team," which would skate back up the other way.
So there are 3 forwards who are "down low." We'll call them F1's. They play a pass around the back of the net and one is "sealed" by an opposing forward, an F2.
The opposing forward's teammates--two more F2's are lined up at the faceoff dots, just north of the "down low players'" defensemen, who we'll call D1's.
The opposing team's defensemen, who we'll call D2's, are hugging the boards at the blueline, so that when their two forwards who are not down low get the puck (F2's), they can skate past their own defenders(D2's) and then roar up ice, chased by the "down low" forwards (F1's) and the "faceoff dot" defensemen (who we'll call D1's).
Basically, you've got forwards and defensemen interchanging spots as this crush of 5 "reverse"/"sealed" players have to surrender possession to a down-low winger, his pals set up at the faceoff dots, and his defensemen at the bluelines.
That team sorts itself out into a conventional 5-man unit, the "down low" forwards charge past their defensemen--so your 3 F2's and 2 D2's are skating up the ice, trying to shoot the puck on the goaltender at the other end--and EVERYBODY charges up the ice the other way, with the F1's and D1's trying to retake possession of the puck.
It worked, but it was clunky, and it was so clunky that players were falling over each other.
Both teams headed into the locker room around 9:55, the West Rink was Zambonied, and the team I watched practice--Team Lidstrom--came out wearing white jerseys for the scrimmage. Team Yzerman wore red, just as they did on Saturday.
Again, there were 3 12-minute periods. The 1st period was 5-on-5; the 2nd was 4-on-4; the 3rd was 3-on-3.
My video skills aren't great and this is a 2-year-old phone, but I'm trying:
Jake Paterson tended Team Yzerman's "white" net for 2 periods, and Lucas Peressini tended Team Yzerman's "white" net for the 3rd period and the shootouts; Jared Coreau tended Team Lidstrom's "red" net for 2 periods, and Andrew D'Agostini tended Team Lidstrom's "red" net for the 3rd period and the shootouts.
I am pretty dang sure that Yzerman's white team won--sealed by a Tomas Nosek shootout goal--by a 3-2 tally, but really, there wasn't just no clarification regarding the name of the goal-scorers. Because the goal horn was used to indicate every line change (why, I do not know), there were times that we all thought the goalies made a good save and the scoreboard changed, and there were times that myself and the Hockey Writers' Zachary Landers would go, "How did that not go in?" as we heard a goal horn.
For that matter, the celebrations were less than enthusiastic, and the game was...It was exactly the game you would expect a group of young players to play after they'd been told to check like their lives depended on it for 35-to-40 minutes.
The lines were almost the same as Saturday's scrimmage:
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
Marc McNulty #74-Joe Hicketts #27
Kevin Clare #97-River Rymsha #71
Mike McKee #58-James De Haas #75
Goalies: Jared Coreau #31, Andrew D'Agostini #68
David Pope #63-Dominic Turgeon #78-No Tyler Bertuzzi #59, so Christoffer Ehn #92 took his place.
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
Ben Marshall #51-Trevor Hamilton #46 (in place of Richard Nedomlel #77)
Nick Zotl #53-Ryan Obuchowski #64
Scott Czarwowczan #95-Logan Schmidt #79
Goalies: Jake Paterson #36, Lucas Peressini #38
Honestly, due to the confusion as to who was scoring, the horn-mandated line changes, all of that stuff, I noted that:
Ben Marshall made it 2-1 for Lidstrom and and Marc McNulty made it 2-2 for Yzerman...
And in the shootout...
1. Christoffer Ehn was stopped for Team Lidstrom;
2. Gustafsson scored a nice blocker-side forehand goal on Peressini for Team Yzerman, making it 3-2;
3. Athanasiou was stopped;
4. Hicketts was stopped;
5. Nosek gave Team Lidstrom the 3-3 tie via a fantastic forehand-backhand-shelf goal on Paterson;
6. Turgeon was stopped;
7. And Cooper deked, dangled and beat Peressini 4-3 Yzerman, that was that, the guys took their gear off, showered in some cases, and hauled tail to the post-game workout, yielding the following interviews:
I wanted to speak with Dylan Larkin to check in on his thoughts regarding the camp as a whole, and WOOD TV8's Larry Figurski, someone from Traverse City, the Hockey Writers' Zachary Landers, Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish joined in, and we had about a three-and-a-half minute chat. He seems to be taking the spotlight, the notoriety and the fact that he's being asked about joining the Red Wings already in stride, but sometimes he sounds like a 17-year-old who's still trying to figure out a way around the sports cliches when asked the same questions over and over again:
I hadn't spoken to James De Haas, so I wanted to check in with the hulking Clarkson defenseman regarding his impressions of the camp, his take on the pace thereof and whether working with a nutritionist helps a college kid:
I've also watched goaltender Andrew D'Agostini for the past two years, so I figured it was time to speak to him about his attempts to "get his foot in the door," working with Jim Bedard and the Wings, his areas for improvement and his long-term goals, which involve continuing to chase the dream and possibly play for the University of Guelph to continue doing so:
Anthony Mantha was almost late for the workout, so I had a short interview with him. We talked about second impressions camp-wise, the off-ice portions (he's apparently already working with a nutritionist at home in Quebec), his thoughts about going into training camp and what he's anticipating about relocating from Val-d'Or to--he didn't want to say it, but I will--Grand Rapids, most likely:
Propriety prevents me from asking as bluntly as you'd like me to, but please ask me what you'd like to hear from Ken Holland on Tuesday. He's going to do a scrum, and when he answers a question, he goes on for a couple minutes, so I might only get one or two in, but give 'er a go.
In terms of player assessments, given that they were tired and that I am tired (I finally had to give in and take a nap today after four days of getting up at 6, getting to the rink and working straight until 6 or 7 or 8), and given that I did not see Team Yzerman practice today...
And again, these comments reflect an isolated summer skill development camp, not a prospect tournament where jobs are on the line, and they are subjective.
Also note: I am using the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau's roster and camp invite pages for reference. Sarah's going to be your go-to source for prospect camp and main camp, and both her Twitter account and the Red Wings Camps' official account are just as important as the MSM'ers or the bloggers that will be up there--I'm gathering that Winging it in Motown will at least have Slapshotgoal and Kyle McIlmurray there, Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish will be there, I believe that the Hockey Writers will send someone to fill Zackary Landers' shoes, and Michigan Hockey has a cast of writers like Tom Mitsos and Nick Barnowski.
I've not ignored other bloggers' coverage over time, and I want to make it clear that I don't have some weird superiority complex or snobbery about other blogs--I just try to cover the MSM stuff, and I am honest-to-Gordie-Howe busy that by the time one news cycle ends, the other begins. I'll try to endeavor my best to do more fellow-blogger coverage in the future. I like and respect my fellow Wings bloggers and believe that our multiple perspectives are invaluable.
84 Kyle Baun: I haven't seen enough of the 6'2," 204-pound Colgate junior to believe that he is anything more than a player who is a speedy space-maker. I know that his college stats are very good, going up from 24 to 26 points over his freshman and sophomore years, and I have seen enough skill in his ability to give-and-go with Mantha to gather that there's some skill there, but he's going to the Bruins' camp and he's going back to Colgate. His next year or two will determine whether he's a pro player.
85 Cole Bardreau: A bit of a ditto for the 5'10," 184-pound Cornell senior, but without the possibility of higher offensive skills. He's visible as a speedy player and for his size he gets around solidly enough, but that's all I've seen.
24 Dean Chelios: Again, Dean is in progress. He's bigger and stronger than he ever was before and he's filled out into a 6'2," 185-pound playmaking center who can more than handle the bump and grind, but he will need to play at least one full season in the ECHL, maybe more, to get the pro contract his brother Jake has with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. There is nothing wrong with being a very skilled player who happens to be on a slower developmental track, and I still believe that Dean can be somebody's 3rd-line fleet-footed playmaking center at some point.
37 Mark Cooper: Cooper's stats are similar to Baun's, and the Bowling Green State University junior is another 6'2" right-shooting forward, but I had barely seen him until he scored that goal today, deke dangle bang, and by "barely seen," I mean he's kept up, but he hasn't stood out.
45 Alex Globke: I like the 6'2," 194-pound Waterford native's jam, I like his chutzpah, I like his finishing abilities, and I think that after a very solid freshman year at Lake State, he's got to get even better, because there is some power forward to him, but he's not a complete package.
17 Hayden Hodgson: Big and beefy at 6'2" and 204 pounds, but the Sarnia Sting forward's been invisible. That's worse than "there." You don't see him.
96 Axel Holmstrom: Axel has faded--I figured that he would--but the stocky near-200-pound forward has been enthusiastic, he's worked his butt off in drills, he's got a superb shot, he loves to drive the middle of the ice, all the way up and down the ice, like a power center, and his wheels are much more efficient than they look, though they do need some work. He wins faceoffs, he's a solid playmaker and he's a scorer. He'll be in Skelleftea AIK's developmental system and maybe their men's team this upcoming season.
80 David Johnstone: The 5'11," 175-pound Grand Ledge native needs to have a monster senior season at Michigan Tech, because he's a scorer up there, but he's not been noticeable down here.
70: Hampus Gustafsson: Yes, there's a Hampus at the Wings' camp, and he's shown some hands--and a lot of promise--as a 6'4," 203-pound forward. Hampus is going into his sophomore season at Merrimack, and he's big, he puts pucks in the net, and like Rasmus Bodin...Sometimes he looks like a power forward in the making, and sometimes you barely notice him for a day. Or two.
25 Dylan Larkin: Confident. Grounded. Gritty. Smart. Skates very well, very maneuverable, very smart with and without the puck positionally, works his tail off, has an edge to him, especially about chasing pucks toward the net, great shot, great passing, it's all there. He's just 17 and needs to go to U of M for 2 or 3 seasons and grow into a man. He's already 6'1" and 190 pounds, and he's stocky, but there's some growin' to do.
39 Anthony Mantha: I'm still convinced that he's a little more burnt out than he'll admit by the Memorial Cup run, and I'm still convinced that he's a little more intimidated about the uphill roster climb he has to make than he'll admit. Mantha will talk you a good game, and he's earnest, he's the "good cocky" but doesn't short-shift you an answer, and he's earnest, he's the "good cocky," and while he's learning to temper those 2-minute shifts and oodles of gliding and gliding with Val-d'Or at this camp, and he's finding that he's running out of room trying to make all the extra moves he did in the QMJHL while playing at an AHL pace...
He is without a doubt the most talented player I have seen participate in a summer prospect camp since Brendan Smith, and he is without a doubt in possession of all the skills, all the brains and all the poise to become a 20-goal-scoring power sniper, using that massive 6'5" frame to protect himself and the puck, and he's a pretty damn good playmaker, too.
Is he ready to steal an NHL player's job? I don't think so, not yet, but ask me again in September.
83 Luke Sandler: He's 21, he's used all the years he can to play in the BCHL, he hasn't done much there, and being 6'1" and 202 pounds in this day and age isn't going to get you an NCAA scholarship if you don't stand out. And he hasn't stood out.
94 Julius Vahatalo: Vahatalo is going to take some time to fill out and some time to develop into a strong player in the Finnish Liiga, but he is gigantic, all arms and legs at 6'5" and 191 pounds, he is strong for his gangly size, he's well-coordinated, he skates superbly for any size and he loves to go to the net and lurk for rebounds. He's an exciting center prospect and he's definitely aware of the fact that he's going to have to earn his way here.
94 Kevin Clare: The 6'1," 210-pound graduating of the University of Michigan is big and strong and mobile. But he hasn't stood out as more than big and strong and mobile.
75 James De Haas: De Haas is a frustrating player to watch in my opinion, mostly because he played two years in the BCHL, he's played his first year with Clarkson, he's built like a superhero at 6'3" and 205 pounds in his upper body and shoulders, he skates superbly well and is a puck-mover of the first order, but he remains incredibly top-heavy and somewhat oblivious of the concept that he is not on a direct route to professional hockey. Tons of talent as a massive puck-rusher. The brain, sometimes she is absent, and the core strength, all the time she is not there.
27 Joe Hicketts: What a tough nut to crack. He's 5'8" but a stout 186 pounds, his center of gravity is the opposite of De Haas,' possibly somewhere beneath the ice, he takes guff from no one, he's a strong puck-mover, passer and high, hard shooter, he skates well, as the Hockey News's Matt Larkin suggested, he's one of the ten best un-drafted players taking part in a summer camp, and the WHL defenseman...Is 5'8." I believe he's coming back in the fall, and if he isn't, he should be. When he's playing against more pro players, then we'll see whether Hicketts is too big a talent to miss.
47 Alexey Marchenko: Alexey is in a different category than any of these players because he's a 22-year-old with one full KHL season and one full AHL season under his belt, and like Mantha, he fully believes that he's going to battle for an NHL job this fall. He's a tactical defenseman, someone that wants to use smarts and angles to beat you, but he's a great and mobile skater, he's got a hard and accurate shot, he's a good passer, and he can use his 212-pound frame when he wants to. He's smart, he's serious, he's hard-working and he's got a good shot at battling Ouellet, Sproul, Backman and Jensen in a bid to steal Jakub Kindl or Brian Lashoff's job.
58 Mike McKee: McKee's development over the past two years just astonishes me. He was essentially a big lug thug two years ago--already 6'5" and 250 pounds then--and while his freshman year at Western Michigan was underwhelming, he's developed into someone who is able to use that size and strength to bang bodies, to physically intimidate, and to keep up with De Haas in terms of skating, passing and shooting, though he's clearly not going to be a big offensive producer. I only get to see him in the summers, and I've only seen him for two of 'em, but if he continues to develop as he does, he's going to be an exciting prospect that combines size and an ability to do more than just be a 6/7 guy.
74 Marc McNulty: McNulty still needs to put on another 15 pounds and he needs to have an even stronger season with the WHL's Prince George Cougars next season. He's the opposite of McKee physicality-wise--he's 6'6" and skates like the wind, but the playmaker and outlet-passer isn't mean; he uses his size as leverage. He's optimistically listed at 193 pounds, and he needs to really put up a point per game with Prince George to show the Wings that he can be what they wanted Jakub Kindl to be.
71 River Rymsha: The 17-year-old Huntington Woods native has barely been able to keep up and hasn't been visible at all, but he can go back to the NAHL or head to college knowing that being 6'2" and 195 pounds at 17 keeps scouts' eyes on you.
31 Jared Coreau: Coreau is massive at 6'5" and 235 well-proportioned pounds, he is technically supremely sound as a hybrid goalie who seals the ice well and uses his big body to block shots, his glove is good and his blocker and puckhandling are excellent, he skates superbly for a big man...And he and Jake Paterson need to have big pro seasons in Toledo, Grand Rapids or wherever they might end up in the Wings' system. Coreau needs to establish himself as a pro goalie by putting his disastrous rookie year behind him and by staying as relentlessly positive in the net as he is off the ice.
68 Andrew D'Agostini: The "little guy" works his ass off, and I hope that somebody sees that and gives him a contract. Last summer, this summer, he's been someone who's shown up every day, loudly improved his skating, he's got great toes, he's a good reactionary goalie and he maximizes that 5'10, "180-pound frame. He understands that he may have to play Canadian University hockey to continue chasing his dreams, and wherever he goes, he's going to be an asset.
72 Andreas Athanasiou: Andreas isn't ready to take someone's job yet, but he'll try this fall. He projects as a rich man's Darren Helm, someone with "Ridiculous Speed" speed and a remarkable set of hands that can deke, dangle, pass, shoot and score. He's naturally explosive as a player and his enthusiasm is as strong as his attention to defensive and offensive detail. He just needs to learn to be a pro player and to learn how to dominate in a men's league the way he dominated the OHL.
81 Michael Babcock: Michael's not going to get much bigger at 5'9" and 170-ish pounds, and Michael may not get much stronger, but the heart-and-soul buzzbomb grinder can work on his hockey skills in his final USHL season in Fargo and then at Merrimack, and I really hope that the intense-but-funny gent becomes a fourth-liner somewhere, because he's been raised "fantastically."
59 Tyler Bertuzzi: Today was a perfect summation of Tyler Bertuzzi's ups and downs at a summer development camp. The skating is superb, the shot is superb, the passing is superb, the hockey sense, defensively and offensively, are very good, he pisses people off like nobody's business...But he's a kid. He's not a "bad kid," but he's immature, and he needs to get his head around all the things he needs to do to translate his strong OHL game with Guelph into a strong pro game. Being what he is now is not going to get him very far when there are guys half a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier who are tired of his bullshit.
86 Blake Clarke: Clarke will come back for the fall tournament and it's good that he will. He had a dreadful draft year, but the 6'1," 190-pound Saginaw Spirit winger shows flashes of at least third-round-draft-pick talent in every aspect of his game, skating, shooting, passing, positioning, hockey IQ, attention to detail, it's all there, but it's not there at the same time. He could be a keeper if he returns to the form that was once ranked so highly prior to his draft year.
92 Christoffer Ehn: Ehn is a step faster than Vahatalo and a little bit more deft and delicate with the puck. He's 6'3" and supposedly 181 pounds, he's enthusiastic, engaging, he works as hard as Axel Holmstrom does and he has Vahatalo's size and flashes of Nastasiuk's defensive awareness. He'll go back to Frolunda and try to make the men's team, and he'll be back next summer trying to earn a contract with the team he's rooted for since he was a kid.
76 Darby Llewellyn: I see nothing but rock-solid play from the 6'1," 175-pound Kitchener Rangers forward and Ann Arbor native, nothing but rock-solid fundamentals and a work ethic. But I mean absolutely nothing else. I don't know what he's good at other than being defensively responsible.
69 Zach Nastasiuk: Nastasiuk still projects to be a 3rd-line center or forward with tons of grit, heart, determination and a heady sense of the game. He can play nasty and he can play technically proficient based upon the situation, he's got a good shot and better passing sense, he has solid speed that's gotten better and he's a solid 6'2" and 196 pounds, using that bulk to win the few battles where he doesn't out-compete people. He needs to go back to captaining the Owen Sound Attack and finally having an offensively dominant season.
63 David Pope: Like De Haas, Pope can be frustrating to watch. He's a very, very lanky 6'2" and 187 pounds, he could probably grow another inch and put on another 30 pounds, he has elite sniper's skills, and...He gets hit a lot, he's out of position, he looks like someone who dominated the BCHL but desperately needs a couple years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha to build up his body and to play much, much more assertively.
22 Brandon Robinson: The 6'3," 216-pound Kitchener Rangers winger has played like Hayden Hodgson, and he's far too big to be so invisible.
67 Tylor Spink and 73 Tyson Spink: Tylor and Tyson are 5'10," 183-pound forwards who are going into their junior year at Colgate, and they have that Chelios family-style wiry build, so the left-shooting center and right-shooting winger, respectively, have a long way to go in terms of proving that they can be more than very fast, very dynamic and very offensive players at the NCAA level. They've been slowed by the bump and grind and that's what appears to be absent in the NCAA.
78 Dominic Turgeon: I've been really impressed by his poise and maturity. For an 18-year-old kid who was just drafted, like Holmstrom, Vahatalo, Ehn and Larkin, he talks like a slightly younger version of his dad. He's an excellent defensive forward, he's working on going from "fast enough" to "fast," and he wins faceoffs, has a hard shot and passes the puck both to teammates and into places where he knows his opponents can't get to before he does. Big head on his shoulders, great work ethic, hopefully more than a 3rd-line center after a few more seasons in Portland, where the 6'1," 196-pound forward faces the most fearsome of the Major Junior Leagues in terms of physicality.
82 Tomas Nosek: When Nosek is in tight, he gets Datsyuk hands around the net, and that's both intriguing and frightening. Nosek's listed at 6'2" and 201 pounds, he was in the top-10 in the Czech Extraliga in scoring, and he's all arms and legs and superb skating and excellent passing, but coming over from Europe and being uncomfortable with the language and the rink...We're going to have to watch him play in the AHL and acclimate to a whole new lifestyle. He's 21 going on 22. Give him some time and he's highly likely to fulfill at least a good chunk of his, "Rich Man's Tomas Kopecky" promise.
95 Scott Cznarowczan: 5'10," 176 pounds, from Macomb, played ECHL hockey at the end of last season after graduating Ferris State, he works hard, but he's someone else's hard-working small defenseman.
46 Trevor Hamilton: Maybe it's me, but the more I see the 6,' 186-pound Grosse Pointe Farms native and Miami of Ohio sophomore, the more I hope the Wings bring him back next summer. He's a right shot, he's stocky, he skates very well, he's an excellent passer and you tend to find him on the offensive rush at the right time, and you tend to find him making a good defensive play at the right time. He's noticeable in all of the good ways, in the places you want to see, in the keeping-up-and-making-things-happen ways.
51 Ben Marshall: Marshall has to have a stellar senior season at the University of Minnesota and he has to prove to the Wings that being 5'9" and 175 pounds and a fantastic puck-mover in the Brian Rafalski vein, save being a left shot, is worth investing a contract in. He's drafted and he can turn pro if the Wings think he's ready. He has all the tools--skating, passing, shooting, puck-carrying, hockey sense, being able to deal with the bump and grind, etc. He just needs to prove that he can be a dominant player at the NCAA level for the Wings to give him a pro shot.
77 Richard Nedomlel: Double-seven is a charming, funny, team-first guy who has to continue working on his first step and he has to continue working on being more than a #7 physical defenseman. He's a superbly physical and solid stay-at-home guy who passes the puck well and has a predictably 6'5," 228-pounder's shot, he reads the play well and he's got a good poke check, too, so he doesn't have to lay people out or drop the gloves.
He needs to focus a little more on being a little more serious and a little less on being comic relief and he needs to earn a full-time AHL job. That might take all year, but it's up to Richard to get the job done. He's come a tremendously long way and done a fantastically superb job of going from uncoordinated to rock solid, but it's time to take the next step.
64 Ryan Obuchowski: 6'1," 185-pound sophomore at Yale has been present and accounted for, but that's about it.
79 Logan Schmidt: All of 5'11" and 169 pounds, the Kitchener Rangers defenseman has actually gotten better as the camp's gone on and he looks pretty solid as he is, but he's a smallish skater heading into his sophomore OHL season..
53 Nick Zotl: I heard good things about the 6'4," 215-pound Mississauga Steelheads defenseman, and maybe his toughness doesn't translate to a no-fighting camp. But he's not been that good and he's not been visible. He's a big man of the McKee-Nedomlel vein and he's 19-and-a-half, but he's looked like the 17-year-olds. A bit over his head.
36 Jake Paterson: I would like to see some fire in him. Paterson is a near-technically-flawless butterfly netminder who does indeed play like his idol, Carey Price, he has a great glove hand, his stickhandling is excellent, his blocker is good, his toes are fast and his butterfly technique is impeccable. He's coming off an OHL year where he was peppered with shots in Saginaw and he should have a slightly easier time in Toledo or Grand Rapids, but it's hard to say because he really doesn't let people get into his head. He says the right thing, he gives you a little more than a cliche, he seems level-headed and mature enough, but he just sort of looks at you and says the answer and moves on to the next thing. He's just sort of indifferently happy to be there, and that's what scares me. I played goal and I know about being level-headed, but if you're smiling all the time, you're in the wrong business playing goal.
It's not a question of technique or will or determination, it's a question of maturity, kind of like with Tyler Bertuzzi. Is he mature enough to take the next step, or does he think that it's going to be easy? Does he care? Does it matter? We'll find out.
38 Lucas Peressini: Lucas is going back to Kingston in the OHL as a 6'2," 185-pound "vampire squid" goalie who's actually progressed quite a bit and done very well during this camp. There are some D'Agostini-style holes in the corners and blocker side, but I've seen him improve over the course of four dang days in terms of his poise and his positioning. Wherever he ends up, he's clearly a fast learner, and that's a great skill to have in a position that is a constant learning experience.
In terms of things that other people have written or produced while I was writing this, regarding this summer development camp:
Fox Sports Detroit's Andrea Nelson profiled Dylan Larkin...
"He's somebody who really seems to be serious in his approach, wants to be a player, wants to get better," said Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. "He also showed some real highly competitive nature which I think is a great thing."
Blashill, who was born in Sault Ste. Marie, knows how exciting it is for anyone, let alone a Michigan native, to be part of the Red Wings organization.
"For him to be a player in that scenario and to be a first-round pick and be drafted by the Red Wings...I was in the Red Wings' suite at the draft and the family came up and I can tell you, they were ecstatic to be part of the Red Wings organization," Blashill said.
"I think lots of people are anytime you're drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, but especially somebody that grew up in the Detroit area."
Larkin, a native of Waterford, Mich., couldn't agree more.
"Obviously my mom and dad get to see my play and that's cool for them," Larkin said. "It's kind of cool to set a path for the kids growing up like (Justin) Abdelkader did for hockey in west Michigan. It's kind of a big thing now and kids are kind of noticing who I am and hopefully they follow my path."
“It was Jiri Fischer and he told me I was drafted,” the Detroit Red Wings’ 106th overall pick said. “The Red Wings have been my favorite team since I was a kid, so it felt great.”
Life has gone at the speed of light since draft day, but the Skara, Sweden, native is doing his best to take it all in. Skating in front of Detroit management at the club’s annual development camp in Traverse City, Ehn said he’s felt better on the ice after each day.
“I think it’s going pretty good,” the 6-foot-3 forward said. “At first you’re a little rusty with the stick and everything, but the skating is getting better and I have more power in my legs.”
The Red Wings like Ehn’s size and skating ability. He performed well for Frölunda’s junior team this past season, putting up 11 points in 45 games.
“I’m trying to do a lot of work on my skating because I think it’s really important for my game,” he said. “To go up and down the ice as a centerman you have to have good skating, so I try to do that.”
Perry and Jeanette Russnel parked their car, unloaded their folding chairs, and prepared to camp out.
The campsite wasn’t the woods, though – it was Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.
The Russnels were the first of an estimated 200 people to congregate at the home of this weekend’s Detroit Red Wings development camp. Fans were waiting to secure tickets to September’s main training camp.
Those who waited in line had the first opportunity to snag passes to training camp, which will be held at Centre Ice Arena from Sept. 19-23.
“This is an easy way to see some of the players up close,” said Perry Russnel. “When you’re at the Joe, there’s some stuff you can’t really see.”
And the Red Wings posted two videos, one in which Jeff Blashill spoke to the players about their professional paths...
As well as comments from Athanasiou, Nastasiuk and Paterson about today's activities:
Otherwise...Regarding one Dan Boyle, according to the Associated Press, he was going to the Rangers, period...
If Dan Boyle's time on ice goes as smoothly as his introductory conference call with the New York media, he and the Rangers will be quite happy with this free-agent signing. Less than a week after the veteran defenseman officially parted ways with the rebuilding San Jose Sharks and agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal with a full no-movement clause with the Rangers, he discussed his decision to come to New York.
After the 15-minute chat ended, the soon-to-be, 38-year-old Boyle, seemed quite pleased with the session.
"That's easy. Perfect," he said Monday.
Boyle knew after the Sharks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Los Angeles — the team that beat the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals — he wasn't going back to San Jose. Earlier in June, the Sharks traded his negotiating rights to the Islanders for a draft pick, but Boyle had his sights set on the another team in the New York metropolitan area. He even took less money to join the Eastern Conference champions.
"That's where I wanted to go. That is the simplest way I can put it," he said. "Once I found out I was done in San Jose, that's the team that kind of jumped out. That's the team that I've always been curious about. I've played in Florida and California — two nontraditional hockey markets. Those places were great, but I just wanted to experience something different. An Original Six team. You can make more money elsewhere, but at the end of the day you've got to be happy."
And Newsday's Steve Zipay reports that Martin St. Louis' presence played a part in that decision:
There were so many factors that went into his decision, he said -- not the least of which was being able to play in one of his favorite places, the Garden. He'll also be reunited with his old friend, Marty St. Louis, whom he played with on the Lightning.
"It was a big factor," he said. "We've had similar careers and it would be a great opportunity to play with him again."
Then, about the 39-year-old St. Louis: "And I'm not going to be the oldest guy on the team anymore. That's why I wanted to go to the Rangers."
I do not know why ESPN's Scott Burnside is posting weekly power rankings in July, but he is doing just that...
18 Detroit [down] 1 Last Week: 17 Frustrating start to free agency for a team that needs help on the blue line to get back in the playoffs.
And I do not know why TSN's Scott Cullen tried to break down EVERY SINGLE SIGNIFICANT signing he felt was important, but he did...
PORTER to RED WINGS
Kevin Porter, 28, has been a fringe NHLer, playing 206 career games, but has played more than 40 games in a season only once.
Porter will be a strong presence in the AHL, where he has 80 points in 98 games over the past couple seasons, but he's only likely to get time in Detroit if injuries become a problem.
In the advertising department, the Red Wings announced the details of their full and partial season ticket packages today...
In the charitable news department, Landon Ferraro is taking part in a charity hockey game on July 25th in Vancouver, and the game held at the Pacific Coliseum will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation and Right to Play...
And finally, I don't know how "in depth" I'll go tomorrow...It will depend on my energy, but I'll do my best. I tried to write assessments today as if I wouldn't write them tomorrow just to be sure. These have been grinding days and I've obviously been putting in the usual 16 hours (though I've been sleeping for far less of the seven or eight hours I have "off"). I hope that my coverage has been pertinent and worth your time and support.
Update: This is by far the most interesting part of the camp that I want but don't get to see, per DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
On Monday, prospects attending the Red Wings’ five-day development camp in northern Michigan were treated to more than hockey. Campers were shuttled to Northwestern Michigan College where they received a cooking course meant to help them make smart nutritional choices.
For years, Lisa McDowell, the team’s registered dietician, has educated elite college, pro and Olympic athletes about the consequences of poor nutritional habits. She presented the Monday afternoon lesson and assisted players in whipping up nine delicious dishes in the culinary arts kitchen.
“The guys who buy into what Lisa has to say about the importance of putting this into their body compared to that, combined with the exercises, only helps to maximize their potential on the ice to fast track them to the NHL,” said Kris Draper, who logged 20 seasons as a player before becoming a special assistant to Wings GM Ken Holland three years ago.
Aside from the intense on-ice instruction that 44 campers are receiving at the annual camp – which concludes with an intra-squad scrimmage Tuesday morning at Centre Ice Arena – learning aspects of independent living is important for the teenagers and young 20-somethings. Many of these players moved away from home to play junior and college hockey, so simple tasks like preparing healthier alternatives to macaroni and cheese is usually foreign to these guys.
“My parents were always home for dinner, and we didn’t really eat out that much,” McNulty said. “Since I was little I’ve always been used to eating at home, getting stuff made at home instead of taking the unhealthy option.”
Still, the cooking class is a tool for many of these players, said Coreau, who is still making some of the recipes that he learned at last year’s development camp.
“We made a chicken parmesan with not as much breading on it,” he said. “We made an avocado and Greek yogurt spread for salmon fillets, which is really good. Quinoa, which is really good, and I hadn’t eaten until then and now I eat it every week, probably twice a week.”
Update #2: The 9&10 News interviewed Jeff Blashill:
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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.