The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/14/11 at 03:46 PM ET
Starting with a continuation of the “overnight report’s” Kris Draper conversation, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms that the long-time Red Wings forward has no desire to sign a try-out contract and compete for a spot on the roster during training camp:
“Zero chance,” said Draper, an unsigned free agent and the 2004 Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) winner. “I think I’ve proven myself to the Red Wings organization and (general manager) Kenny (Holland) knows what I’m all about after all these years.”
Draper, however, is hopeful he’ll play his 21st season in the NHL, 18th with the Red Wings.
“I’ve been training and preparing for next season as I always have,” said Draper, fresh off a weeklong golfing trip with teammates and friends. “But first I need to talk with Kenny and hear what he has to say, what he thinks is best, and we’ll go from there.”
Draper, 40, said he expects to talk with Holland soon. But Draper’s situation is tricky. The Red Wings plan on carrying 14 forwards, and 13 spots are set after free agents Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller were re-signed. That could mean Draper, who played in 47 regular-season games (11 points) and eight playoff games (one assist), would be fighting for a spot with rookie Cory Emmerton, who could be lost on waivers if he isn’t on the roster.
The prospect of playing for another team is also something Draper hasn’t dwelled on.
“Detroit is home,” said Draper.
Draper also speaks to Kulfan about his experiences on Osgood’s 400th win golf trip to Scotland and Ireland…
In prospect-related news, the Wings’ prospects wrapped up their eight-day summer development camp in Traverse City this morning with a scrimmage which “Team Zetterberg” defeated “Team Lidstrom” 7-5, out-shooting the opposition 37-34. Aside from a near-fight between Mitchell Callahan and Landon Ferraro, nobody got hurt and while the prospects still have a tendency to overpass and look for plays that aren’t there, the differences in terms of pace of play, execution and evident puck-possession, Red Wings hockey…
They were night and day compared to Sunday’s scrimmage. The prospects are headed back to Detroit tonight for exit interviews with the Griffins’ coaches, Red Wings’ management and trainers, and tomorrow they’ll take in the Tigers-White Sox game from Mike Ilitch’s suite.
For reference purposes, here are the rosters of the teams that took part in today’s scrimmage and subsequent shootout tournament:
38 Thomas McCollum
66 Tyson Teichmann*
2 Brendan Smith
32 Adam Almquist
64 Danny Dekeyser*
42 Max Nicastro
15 Richard Nedomlel
62 Ryan Sproul
3 Brad Walch*
47 Brent Raedeke
14 Gustav Nyquist
60 Trevor Parkes
70 Willie Coetzee
58 Landon Ferraro
58 Nick Oslund
68 Adam Estoclet*
24 Dean Chelios*
63 Julien Cayer
45 Casey Fraser*
Injured: Gleason Fournier
34 Petr Mrazek
31 Evan Mosher*
25 Brian Lashoff
54 Sebastien Piche
27 Travis Ehrhardt
56 Bryan Rufenach
61 Xavier Ouellet
75 Artem Sergeev*
77 Jake Chelios*
41 Nick Jensen
28 Tomas Jurco
53 Louis-Marc Aubry
65 Mitchell Callahan
71 Travis Novak*
50 Brooks Macek
74 Alan Quine
29 Marek Tvrdon
73 Phillipe Hudon
72 Zachery Franko*
49 Jesse Fraser*
Note: Players with an * next to their names are try-outs.
I’m going to hold off on assessments from the game and/or some final thoughts until this evening, but I can also promise that this evening I’ll post a 14-minute interview with Jim Nill, an 8-minute interview with Jiri Fischer and conversations with Tomas Jurco, Mitchell Callahan and Landon Ferraro.
I spent my post-scrimmage time in the locker room—after accidentally opening the door as Nill and Fischer were speaking to the players, that is—shaking hands with players, thanking them for their time and wishing them well before seeing them in September—which means that the money you very kindly donated to allow me to come up here for the prospect camp that went unspent is going to stay in the bank, and, regrettably, I’ll have to start up another pledge drive to defray some of the expenses, though I certainly don’t expect the same response this time around.
In the interim, I’m going to finally take a much-needed afternoon nap, I’ll provide some sort of write-up tonight—it might not be too extensive because of the fact that I’m pretty wiped out—and tomorrow morning I’ll pack up the Pacifica, head back home to South Lyon and engage in Chris Osgood watch with the rest of you. I should be home by 4 or 5 at the latest, and will do my best to keep you posted over the evening and weekend (though I must admit that I’ll take the weekend a little slow).
Then we’ve got one more week of big decisions for the team—in all honesty, we might not have the Osgood or Draper situations resolved until the middle of next week—and I’ll finally take my first vacation in three years, heading to Grand Marais with my mom and her side of the family for ten days, starting on either the 25th or 26th. We’re going to have some sort of internet service up there, so I’ll continue to do my best to publish overnight reports as things (hopefully) slow down, and I’ll be sure to have Paul text me if there’s any breaking news.
Then I come home in the first full week of August and there’s five weeks till the prospect tournament. Some summer vacation
Anyway, what you’ll hear from Nill and Fischer is pretty similar to what Ken Holland had to say to the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema—that this was a business trip for the Red Wings, too, because the business of hockey is all about player development:
“If you play pro hockey, it’s a job. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a man’s league. You’re not playing for fun,” Holland said. “People who are in the AHL that are 26, 27, that’s how they make a living, and they don’t want some kid to come in and take their job.”
Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser said this has been the best batch of prospects he has seen in the three years he has led development camp. The players are bigger, stronger, quicker and more confident, and those qualities will be key if they want to earn a spot with the Griffins—and then keep it.
“When you’re a young guy and you come into the American Hockey League, it’s not easy,” Fraser said. “It’s a tough, tough league to play in, and a lot of the kids coming in have been very good players in college or junior or Europe, the best players on the team. Now, they come into the AHL and you know what? They’re all good players, and it’s tough to catch up.”
Fraser will need them to learn in a hurry because the Griffins will be younger this season. Holland said most teams in the AHL are skewing younger, and the Red Wings have been making a concerted effort to hang on to more draft picks than they did in the past.
“When you look at the cap system and parity, and you look at what happened for free agency, you have to develop your own players,” Holland said. “We have more prospects today than we did five years ago, so we need those kids to get into Grand Rapids. We’re going to have a core of four or five veteran guys, and then it’s going to be lots of kids. Every NHL team needs to develop homegrown talent.”
He also interviewed Ferraro, who I was able to snag, and Nyquist, who I’ve pointed out to two beat writers for the Traverse City Record-Eagle over the past two days…
And aside from a superb profile of Alan Quine, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji spoke to both Jiri Fischer and Fraser about the reasons why the team invests so much time, energy and especially money in first introducing their players into the Red Wings’ system and then reinforcing the on and off-ice habits the players need to master if they are to become the naturally self-improving players who make the big club’s roster down the road:
“Wanting to learn, wanting to get better,” said Jiri Fischer, the director of player development. “Those are two important things. If guys don’t want to do that, they’re not going to make the NHL. Development camp is just as important for the guys as it is for us. They try to learn how they can be better hockey players, how to take care of their bodies, how to become pros. We want to learn as much as we can about them. It’s great for both sides. Some guys are more competitive than others. The most competitive guys who really want to soak as many things as possible from Aaron Downey, from Chris Chelios, they’re fantastic guys to be around.”
“It’s really exciting to be up in Traverse City,” Fischer said. “It’s very different—different schedule, different way we do things, a little different.
“Everybody flew into Detroit. We have testing late at night, and next day we have a lot of travel Guys got up early in the morning to get here to Traverse City, practice, off-ice workout right away. Everybody’s getting a little tensed up, but they’re working, which is a good thing.”
Grand Rapids Griffins coach Curt Fraser, who is working with the prospects, has been impressed with the level of play, which wraps up Thursday with a scrimmage and skills competition.
“There’s 12 or 14 guys that are terrific,” Fraser said. “We’re bigger, we’re faster, kids are more skilled. Every year it seems they get a little bit better.
It’s good to see. The mix is real nice out here right now. We’ve got 12 guys from Grand Rapids. We’ve got a bunch of new kids coming in. We’ve got some guys with experience, college kids.”
One thing that’s evident from some of the more recent draft picks is that the Wings are working towards evolving into a bigger team. The organization has always valued skill above all else. The Wings have normally had one of the smaller teams in the NHL because they’ve chosen later in the draft when smaller, skilled players are more available than the bigger, skilled players who go early.
But their top three picks in the most recent draft are trending larger. Tomas Jurco (2nd round, 35th overall) is 6-foot-2, Xavier Ouellet (2nd, 48th) is 6-foot and Ryan Sproul (2nd, 55th) is a towering 6-foot-4. All are just 18 years old, (or about to be, as Ouellet turns 18 July 29) which means they all will probably grow. Two of last year’s draft picks also top 6-feet. Riley Sheahan (1st round, 21st overall) is 6-foot-2 and Louis-Marc Aubry (3rd, 81st) is 6-foot-4. Aubry has already grown an inch since the draft.
“I was told that Gordie Howe used to be a big guy in the NHL,” Fischer said. “And I got to meet him many, many times, and guys who are 6-feet were big 50 years ago. Different story today. Now the way the landscape of pro hockey is changing. There’s a lot of guys that are coming in that are faster, they’re bigger and they’re more skilled.”
For the record, it was also a pleasure to see Zuidema, Wakiji, DetroitRedWings.com’s Jake Duhaime and Rick Bouwness, the Free Press’s George Sipple, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and the Traverse City Record-Eagle and 9&10 news’s reporters up there…
Two Wings prospects who impressed the hell out of me merited mentioning in Hockey’s Future’s Kevin Forbes’ recounting of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s performance, if you will, at the NHL Entry Draft…
Looking back towards the Sea Dogs, Beaulieu and Huberdeau will more than likely be reunited back in Saint John with forwards Zack Phillips and Tomas Jurco. Phillips, selected 28th overall by the Minnesota Wild, had great chemistry with Huberdeau all season long, while Jurco, selected 35th overall by the Detroit Red Wings, raised his stock significantly with a strong performance at the Memorial Cup.
Detroit also picked up another QMJHL player in the second round in Xavier Ouellet. Playing for the Montreal Junior (now the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada), Ouellet could be one of the top defensemen in the Q before his junior career is over.
I’ll admit that it helps when the players they’re bringing into the system are such nice young men, too. Lots of handshakes and, “Have a good summer’s” and, “It was nice meeting you’s” today.
I guess this is an “easy” thing to say, but I’m rooting for all of them. I know that not every prospect will make the NHL, but in the vast majority of the prospects’ cases, they’ll do pretty damn well wherever life takes them.
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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.