The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/11/11 at 10:54 AM ET
Updated at 10 AM with a really cool interview with Brendan Smith: Red Wings try-out turned prospect Trevor Parkes starred during Sunday’s intra-squad scrimmage at the Red Wings’ summer development camp, scoring a hat trick as he led “Team Lidstrom” to a 5-3 victory over Team Zetterberg, and Grand Rapids Griffins coach Curt Fraser told the Free Press’s George Sipple that Parkes (who played on a fantastic line alongside Brent Raedeke and Gustav Nyquist on Sunday) has taken several steps forward in terms of his development:
“He’s bigger, faster, stronger,” Fraser said. “We were kind of excited about him (last summer). But this year now you see what he can do. He’s a lot more confident on the ice. He knows what he’s doing. He follows the structure that we play very well. He’s done a great job so far, and he got rewarded for it today by doing things properly and getting out there and working hard.”
Parkes credited his linemates for a couple of the goals. His first goal tied the game at 1 in the first period.
“The first one, just kind of a scrum in front,” Parkes said. “Picked up the puck and kind of a backhand squeaker. Kind of got lucky on that one.”
Parkes made it 2-1 with 1:48 left in the first.
“The second goal was on the power play, net-front, where I’m used to playing all season,” Parkes said. “Raedeke made a nice pass through the slot. Lots of time, and I put that one in.”
Parkes’ third goal tied the game at 3 in the second period.
“Great play by Nyquist,” Parkes said. “He dangled the guy and gave me an open net. Just kind of one-timed it. Kind of had to bury that one or else I would have been in trouble. Just trying to show them what I got. Maybe last year I had more of the jitters. Now this year I’m a little confident out there and feel like I belong.”
Parkes is probably ticketed for one more season with the QMJHL’s Montreal Juniors before he turns pro in Grand Rapids, but as Parkes suggests, his final year of junior eligibility doesn’t prevent him from turning pro as a 20-year-old, and he plans on making it very hard for Fraser and the Red Wings’ management to send him back to the Q.
Several of the other players who starred in the scrimmage have very literal family ties to Detroit and Grand Rapids in prospect mentor Chris Chelios’s sons, Jake and Dean (who play for Michigan State University) and coach Fraser’s sons, Casey and Jesse. The sets of brothers spoke to the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s James Cook about their experiences (but I have to warn you that this is one of those “subscriber-only” articles)...
It’s an experience every time,” Dean said. “You finish your season and you go a couple months and then you get competition like this in the middle of the summer to kind of wake you up and get you ready for next year. It’s a good wake-up call and lets you know how hard you have to compete go to the main camp.”
“Not all the guys are fortunate enough to have competition like this before going back to school,” Chelios said. “It’s definitely an advantage. And seeing what it takes to make it at the next level helps you at your own level in college.”
And part of that is playing alongside his brother Jake.
“We hadn’t played together on the same team since the second grade,” Chelios said. “So it was definitely a new experience. And I like him. We’re living together next year, so we’re close.”
As Cook notes, neither Fraser has the kind of pro potential that the Chelioses do (and they’ve got a ways to go in that department), so they’re just enjoying the ride—as is their dad—as the Michigan State students try to blend in:
“It is so much fun for them,” Curt Fraser said. “They’re 18 and 19. They’re lucky to be able to come to a camp like this. It’s a great experience for all these kids, especially mine. Last year, when they went home, Jesse walked into the locker room with his AAA team and everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how was it at Red Wings camp? What did they think of you?’ He said, ‘They thought I was just a real bad pick.’ He has fun with it, and they’re enjoying it. I’m just thrilled to have them here with me.”
“It’s just fantastic,” Fraser said. “I get to spend some real good time with them. They’re working hard. My guys don’t play professional hockey, but they love hanging around with these guys. They include them in everything. It’s just a real good thing for a young person to come to. The experience is great.”
Cook also offers an intriguing tidbit about the future of the Wings’ summer development camp, which isn’t guaranteed to remain in Traverse City despite Centre Ice Arena’s renovations and near-professional-level locker rooms and training facilities, via Red Wings GM Ken Holland:
“The new locker rooms, that was a real seller for our staff,” Holland said. “There’s an advantage to being in Detroit. They get to practice in Joe Louis Arena. They get to see the Red Wing locker room. Obviously, this is one of the great parts of the world in the summertime. I’m not sure where we’ll go next year, but for this year we’re here.”
In terms of getting to know the Wings’ prospects, their new YouTube channel, “DRW Social Media,” posted a clip of Thomas McCollum on Sunday, and this morning, they offer clips of Tomas Jurco…
And Ryan Sproul speaking to Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime about their likes, dislikes and their experiences at camp:
Sproul in particular represents one of the leading edges of a new type of player that the Wings are slowly learning to deal with in that @Sproully93 is on Twitter (RedWingsFeed has a list of every player and prospect that’s on Twitter), and as Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji notes, the gangly defenseman learned the two weeks ago that when you become a Red Wing, things change in a hurry:
“Actually I didn’t really want to do it,” Sproul said. “One of my buddies said you may as well and I made the account and I only had, I think, like 50 followers or something. As soon as I got drafted, my phone went crazy. I looked at my phone after the draft and I had about 850 followers right after that. For these guys, for the fans, super fans here and any fan who wants to know what I’m doing, it’s fun stuff.”
In fact, you can follow Sproul’s experience at the camp through his Twitter feed. After the first four days, Sproul said, “Day 4 complete and holy am I ever sore! Traverse city is incredible. Thanks to the #redwings for bringing us here for camp.#greatorganization.”
In terms of Sproul’s playing abilities, well, I won’t say that his potential is as high as the group of defensemen he’s trying to emulate, but given that he’s 18, 6’3” and growing and displays a Lidstrom-like wingspan with his poke check, fantastic playmaking abilities and a really high level of mobility for such a big man, here’s hoping:
Sproul said he tries to model himself after offensive defensemen like Washington’s Mike Green or Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
“Their offensive ability is something I try to bring into my game as well,” Sproul said. “Nick Lidstrom’s the same way. Being in this organization now with Nick being like that, I can learn so many different things from him and it’s going to be nice to be playing with him in minicamp and hopefully in the future, I guess, if he’s still around.”
Although he seems like he could play forever, Lidstrom probably won’t be with the Wings when the team deems Sproul is ready to play in the NHL. They like their prospects to get plenty of experience before throwing them into the fire. Sproul acknowledges that he does have plenty of things to work on.
“I think I’d be the first one to admit that my ‘D’ zone is something that I need to work on,” he said. “Once that comes along, I think my game’s going to be complete.”
For the record, USA Today’s Kevin Allen spoke to the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin about the fact that bloggers’ “bad conduct” in cheering in the press box and asking fan-style questions to players and coaches has the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association on edge, as does the social media phenomenon, so I’ll say two things:
1. I’m well aware of the fact that if I do get accredited and sit in the press box one day, my job is to be seen and not heard;
2. And I’d have to say the same for my discretion about players’ Tweets. I follow the Wings’ prospects on Twitter and I’m actually Facebook friends with a pretty high-profile prospect, but I just don’t post anything other than their comments about their experiences. Where they’re going, who they’re hanging out with, goofy pictures, if they’re having a good time or taking back a pop or two…That’s just not my business. You can go ahead and follow them and say what you want about ‘em, but as someone who both roots for them and has to be a professional, there are times when they post the kind of goofy stuff that young guys do and it just…I don’t see the point in doing anything less than respecting their right to privacy.
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning:
• According to Sportsline’s Adam Gretz, the Red Wings are the second-most-exciting team to watch in the NHL based upon their goals scored versus goals allowed—with the Avalanche ranking ahead of them for their higher goals-against average?
• Of numerical note from DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness’s “By the Numbers” take on Henrik Zetterberg’s 2010-2011 season:
20: The amount of multi-point games Zetterberg turned during the regular-season, adding two more in seven playoff appearances.
56: Selflessness was an obsession of Henrik’s in his eighth NHL season as the veteran forward dished out a career-high 56 assists, the fifth-best total in the league.
306: For the fourth straight season, Zetterberg fired over 300 shots on NHL goalies, finishing with the fifth-highest total in the league at 306.
• In the business of hockey, directly related version: the Free Press’s Jamie Samuelssen weighs in on the prospect of the Red Wings and Pistons sharing a multi-use facility at some point;
• In the business of hockey, not directly related version: According to Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea, the private backers of the Woodward Avenue light rail project (including Mike Ilitch), which would make a Foxtown rink more appealing for the Wings, might back out of the project;
• And as I’m just about to head out the door, SVT.se posted a pretty pedestrian interview with Nicklas Lidstrom, but I’ll try to translate it as time permits. The Google translation thereof is pretty solid.
Whether I get to it depends on what happens at the rink—remember that practices go from 9:30-11:30 and 12-2 today—and whether the Osgood situation comes to a head.
Update: The Grand Rapids Press’s Micahel Zuidema spoke at length to Brendan Smith about taking part in his fifth developmental camp, his first season in the AHL and his goals going forward:
“Anytime you’re a part of the Red Wings organization doing anything, it’s always exciting,” he said Sunday afternoon at Centre I.C.E. Arena. “Coming here, it’s always fun. It’s always fun to get on the ice. I mean, it’s what I love and it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
As Zuidema suggests, Smith’s got a hard challenge ahead in winning a job on the big club’s roster after the team signed Mike Commodore or Ian White, but Smith still wants to make the club if he can earn the opportunity…But Ken Holland isn’t quite so sure that Smith playing as a #6/7 defenseman is a good idea—though Holland has every intention of allowing Smith multiple chances to earn a spot during training camp and the exhibition season:
“People forget how good pro is, and when you leave college, when you leave junior hockey, there are a lot of hopes and expectations and we all want it to happen immediately, but usually there’s a process involved,” Holland said. For some, there’s a shorter process, for some there’s a longer process, but I think Brendan looks in good shape.”
Smith, the 27th overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, had a stellar first year with the Griffins. Despite missing 17 games because of shoulder and knee injuries, he led all AHL rookie defensemen with 12 goals, and his 32 points were the third-most by a rookie defenseman in franchise history. This offseason, Smith has been working to become stronger on the ice. He recently finished working out at the University of Wisconsin with NHL veterans and fellow ex-Badgers Joe Pavelski, Adam Burish and Tom Gilbert. After development camp, he will head to Toronto for more work with fitness expert Matt Nichol, who has trained NHL players such as Mike Cammalleri, Mats Sundin and Lee Stempniak.
“I think the biggest thing is to put on some weight, get bigger and stronger, but not lose my speed and the stuff that got me here,” Smith said. “Other than that, I’m just going out there on the ice, getting my hands back and getting everything going so I can prove that I’m ready for the pro game.”
Smith has shined at camp in terms of his ability to display a professional level of fit and finish, and amongst the prospects his strength is at least getting closer toward the Brian Lashoff/Travis “Side of Beef” Ehrhardt range, but he is still somewhat skinny for his size and needs to add some core strength and a little bit more in terms of perhaps his lower body instead of upper body so that his elite level of skating can find an extra gear if he commits to having Kris Draper/Darren Helm/Sergei Fedorov thigh strength.
Grand Rapids Griffins coach Curt Fraser knows that while Smith, Ehrhardt, Lashoff, Thomas McCollum, Sebastien Piche and Willie Coetzee don’t have to come to the camp, he thinks that it’s a good idea for each and every one of those players, a top-flight prospect like Smith included, to engage in the on-ice activities and workouts:
“I think this is really going to help Smitty. I think he has to take advantage of every opportunity to give him the best chance possible to make the Detroit Red Wings, and this is the start of it,” Fraser said. “Now, he’s got to be ready for the prospects camp and then the Detroit Red Wings camp. If he does all these things well, I’m sure he’ll have a great opportunity to make the big club. But it’s up to him.”
The other thing Smith keeps saying is that taking part in the team’s playoff run as a “Black Ace” taught him all sorts of good things about the Red Wings’ approaches to the game and especially their off-ice preparation and demeanors:
“One thing I took away that was huge for my development is just how pros hold themselves, how (Nicklas) Lidstrom and Hank (Henrik Zetterberg) hold themselves on and off the ice,” Smith said. “Watching Pavel Datsyuk after a practice work out for a half hour, or even before a game after the morning skate, is unbelievable. That’s why they’re the best pros they can be.”
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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.