Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: Three stages of prospect camper’s careers

This morning we look at three prospects who’ve attended the Red Wings’ summer development camps who happen to find themselves at very different stages of their careers.

2011 2nd-round draft pick and Soo Greyhounds defenseman Ryan Sproul spent the better part of his first three weeks as a Wings prospect at the team’s development camp in Traverse City, and the “wow factor” hasn’t worn off yet for Sproul, who spoke to the Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci on Sunday afternoon:

After going through fitness testing in Detroit July 6, Wings hopefuls were bussed to Traverse City. There, they spent eight days working out both on and off ice. Focused on developing their prospects skills, the Wings placed an emphasis on power skating, stickhandling and rigorous practice sessions. Players scrimmaged only twice.

“Some of the little things we learned were incredible,” Sproul said. “They’ll really help me in the future.”

Former Wings defenceman Jiri Fischer, who went into cardiac arrest during a 2005 NHL game and was subsequently forced to retire from the sport, made an immediate impact on Sproul. Fischer, now 29, is the Wings director of player development.

“He was amazing,” Sproul said of Fischer. “He’s a great guy and he helped me a ton.”

Sproul said he felt he performed well at the camp, affirming the confidence the Wings showed by drafting him in the second round.

“They said that I had a good camp and they were impressed,” Sproul recalled. “They think I’ve got really good lower-body strength, but I need to keep working on my upper-body strength.”
“Attending the prospect camp has given me more focus,” Sproul said. “I’ll be coming back to the Greyhounds to hopefully be a No. 1 or 2 defenceman. I want to continue to develop and help the team win.”

Goaltender Thomas McCollum’s only three years removed from his draft year, but after two up-and-down professional seasons spent with both the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins and the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, McCollum’s both playing for a contract and the opportunity to back up Jimmy Howard a year from now as the number of games he plays this season will determine whether his waiver-exempt status will expire one or two years from now.

McCollum had a solid development camp and remains both a superbly naturally-talented and technically sound goaltender, but the Wings’ are concerned about the fact that McCollum has yet to find his stride as a professional hockey player, as Jim Bedard and assistant GM Jim Nill suggested to the Free Press’s George Sipple:

“Obviously we’re looking for Thomas to have a big, breakout season this year,” said Wings goaltending coach Jim Bedard. “With bigger goalies, they take longer to figure out the position.”

Bedard said he was encouraged by how McCollum performed at the recent prospect development camp in Traverse City.

“He’s gotta get to a point where he says, ‘Enough’s enough. I gotta perform at the level I was at when the Red Wings first saw me,’ ” Bedard said. “We saw him play a ton of good hockey games. If anything Thomas has gotta learn that we’re not making or breaking anybody on one day or one shot or one situation. I believe. I see his work ethic and his agility.”

Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill agrees that McCollum has the skills and size to be a good goaltender.

“I think it is more mental than anything,” Nill said. “Kids go through a transition where they think they can’t make a mistake. If you’re a goalie, there’s going to be goals scored against you. Dominik Hasek let goals in. Some good, some bad. But he never let those bother him. Thomas has to get to that point where it doesn’t bother him. It already happened, move on and don’t let it happen again.”

McCollum’s favorite player growing up was Hasek, so the Wings might want to call Dom and have him speak to McCollum…

The Wings also invited eleven try-outs to their summer development camp, and not all of them latch on with the Wings, but many are picked up by other teams—like Vancouver Canucks prospect Darren Archibald, Phoenix Coyotes prospect Andy Miele and some players who end up playing in the minors or Europe.

The Wings brought Corey Elkins to several development camps as a try-out, and he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Kings in 2009, but he also spent the past two seasons playing in the AHL. According to Lidovky.cz and CTK, Elkins is joining the ranks of Eric Himelfarb, Danny Groulx and Evan McGrath as prospects who’ve headed to Europe to continue their playing careers. Elkins signed with HC Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga today.

If you missed it, the other big news from Sunday involved the fact that Jimmy Howard confirmed to the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi that he is not “Jimmyhoward33” on Twitter. Howard happened to take part in a charity hockey game to benefit the Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation on Sunday, and he spoke to Lenzi about the reason he played in the game as well:

Howard, a former UMaine goalie, is spending the offseason training in the Bangor area, and he learned of the event through his wife, Rachel, a friend of the Goulet family.

“It’s for a good cause,” Howard said. “For me, I feel like, to give your time, that’s the best way for me to give back, to come down here and participate in this.”

The Wings-related focus over the next couple of days will involve Ken Holland announcing what the team’s decided as to whether the team plans on retaining Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s services, and the Hockeytown Blog’s Jake Duhaime opened up the floor to fans’ opinions on the pair’s playing futures;

In the promotional department, a Grind Line alum in Darren McCarty will be appearing at Thursday’s Great Lakes Loons minor league baseball game in Saginaw, and the Saginaw News’s Adam Boulton reports that the Loons will also be offering an eye-raising bobblehead giveaway to fans attending Thursday’s game:

Terry Sawchuk Bobblehead: Thursday’s game at Dow Diamond features a Terry Sawchuk Bobblehead giveaway as apart of the Red Wings Legends Series. The first 1,000 fans through the gate at Dow Diamond will take away the promotion.

In the multimedia department, “The Hockey Group” posted a promotional video of Jim Bedard promoting his goaltending camps, and although this is an “in retrospect” video, it’s pretty stunning to hear new Wings assistant coach Jeff Blashill tell Kalamazoo’s WKZO that he’d never met Babcock prior to being asked if he was interested in the job at the NHL Entry Draft:

Brad Stuart tends not to post high statistics in terms of goals or points, but DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke reveals that Stuart hit triple digits in two categories in a “By the Numbers” look at Stuart’s 2010-2011 season:

131: Hits the 11-year veteran threw, leading all defensemen and third-best on the team overall only behind forwards Justin Abdelkader (188) and Johan Franzen (143).

114: Blocked shots had by Stuart, which was good for second on Wings’ roster behind Niklas Kronwall (129).

With two professional sports leagues having locked out their players, the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin offers a very solid argument for ditching CBA-enforced parity in pro sports not named the NFL, whose TV contract earns its franchises a de-facto payroll subsidy, but as Dowbiggin can’t help himself from tossing off the usual amount of arrogance, he suggests that the only markets that care and/or matter in the NHL are, of course, Canadian ones:

Outside of Canadian cities willing to sell their souls for hockey, no one in North America wants what Gary Bettman is selling (or at the price he’s asking).

Um, wrong…

And finally, I want to congratulate DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmussen for celebrating the 15th anniversary of his website’s birth and wish fellow KK blogger Tony from the Confluence well as he chooses to pursue other endeavors.

Sometimes writing is like oxygen and sustains us, and sometimes it becomes a struggle, and while I fall into Clark’s category—while I’ve only been doing this officially for five-and-a-half years, I was commenting on message boards and cranking out content on hockey forums around the time Clark started (1996)...

It takes an equal amount of guts, heart and courage to stick it out and to know when it’s time to say goodbye.

I know quite a bit about the former but I don’t ever want to know about the latter, because it’s got to be incredibly, incredibly difficult.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


sloaner's avatar

Where do we kick in the money to get you to camp outside Ken Holland’s office?

Posted by sloaner from Los Angeles, CA on 07/18/11 at 07:09 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I thought I’d be nice and not ask people for money for five days…and Ken Holland’s office is currently in Vernon, British Columbia, so that’s a long trip.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/18/11 at 07:24 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

It takes an equal amount of guts, heart and courage to stick it out and to know when it’s time to say goodbye.

I know quite a bit about the former but I don’t ever want to know about the latter, because it’s got to be incredibly, incredibly difficult.

This reminded me of what Ozzie and Drapes must be going through right now…

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 07/18/11 at 11:18 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