The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/08/11 at 12:16 AM ET
Okay, before I begin, let’s get the roster straight as trying to read a sheet of paper, say, “Hello” to Ken Holland and watch hockey at the same time are too much for my 8-bit brain. Here are the players participating in the Red Wings’ summer development camp in Traverse City, MI:
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*
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.
And, via the Red Wings’ Facebook page, here again are the details of said camp if you’re able to attend (the rink was, depending on the time, 1/3 to 2/3rds full, which is pretty darn good given that there were six weeks’ worth of notice and that it’s occurring during the National Cherry Festival):
The Detroit Red Wings will hold their annual summer prospect development camp from July 7-14 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich. Fans wishing to attend the proceedings may attend the first day free of charge, with tickets for the remainder of camp available for $5 (per day) apiece at the rink only.
This year’s development camp will feature seven of Detroit’s nine selections from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, including highly-touted offensive dynamo Tomas Jurco (RW, Saint John, QMJHL) as well as his fellow second-round picks Xavier Ouellet (D, Montreal, QMJHL) and Ryan Sproul (D, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Previous camp attendees set to appear at this invaluable week-long training session include renowned prospects Brendan Smith (D, Grand Rapids, AHL) and Landon Ferraro (C, Everett, WHL).
Friday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 13
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 1)
Thursday, July 14
8:30 – 10:00 a.m., Scrimmage/Skills Competition
The Red Wings’ Facebook page has already posted a slate of images from today’s on-ice activities, and RedWingsTV posted an interview with Brendan Smith…
Who had this to say to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about his priorities and his desire to make the big club (and my goodness, has he ever grown into a polished, professional young man!):
“This is a business trip,” said Smith, 22. “My first time I was getting my feet wet and watching guys like Jakub Kindl when he was captain of the Czech team. I just watched him and saw how he held himself, and I’ve just try to emulate him. I would say that this is more like a business trip, and hopefully I can keep progressing right into training camp in September.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland has said time and time again this summer that Smith will be given every opportunity to earn a spot on the Wings’ roster this fall. While the retirement of Brian Rafalski helps Smith’s case, the free agency acquisitions of Mike Commodore and Ian White makes for a challenging situation in training camp and the preseason games.
“I just need to keep progressing and show them that I want to be with the Wings next year, and show them by my on-ice and off-ice,” Smith said. “Obviously, the big thing about me is am I gaining weight? Am I getting stronger? I’m working hard in the gym and I have to keep doing it and keep getting bigger and improving myself.”
Someone who has spent significant time with Smith and charted his growth and development is Jiri Fischer, the Wings’ director of player development. For Fischer, all of the attributes are there for Smith. He’s a swift skating offensive defenseman, who likes to pick his spots to join the rush. After all, as a junior at Wisconsin he was a Hobey Baker finalist, finishing with 15 goals and 37 assists.
“He seems to be determined,” Fischer said. “The first time that I got to meet him after we drafted him in the first round, he was very confident, pretty resilient, mentally. Those are two very, very important things if you’re going to make it to the pros. I think it was hard for him to figure out how difficult it really is to make it in the NHL from the level that he was playing at. Since then, I think he’s really learned in the last four years what it takes, and this year he is going to be pushing really hard for a spot on the Red Wings’ roster.”
Last season, Smith played in Grand Rapids with the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate. There he led the Griffins’ defensemen with 12 goals in 63 games, and became the first Griffins’ rookie ever selected to play in an AHL All-Star. Even though he doesn’t have a spot on the Wings’ roster for the upcoming season, some hockey pundits have already penciled in Smith as a candidate for the Calder Trophy.
“I hear it,” he said. “But I try to keep that out of my head. I’m just trying to be my best and get myself to that point. But right now I need to show them that I can be a productive player in the NHL.”
Roose also reports one thing that I did figure out—Richard Nedomlel didn’t leave the bench, but it was due to a bit of antibiotics-induced dizziness—and he also reports that Max Nicastro left the ice due to a sore back.
On the first day of action, there’s just no point in pushing players’ bodies…
And I was wondering why Griffins coach Curt Fraser and assistant coach Jim Paek were wearing a microphone packs…wonder no more, at least in Paek’s case:
And here’s Tomas Jurco speaking to the media:
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also offers several observations:
1) Everyone, and I mean everyone, loves the idea of being in Traverse City for this camp and not Joe Louis Arena.
There’s so much to do for the young players away from hockey. General manager Ken Holland likes the idea of many of these young players, some of whom will be future Wings teammates, forming friendships this early in their careers.
2) Next season is huge for goalie Thomas McCollum.
He’s had consecutive poor seasons in Grand Rapids and needs to show consistency with the Griffins this winter. McCollum said consistency and confidence are two areas he needs to work on.
The Wings have some depth in the goaltending position, so McCollum can’t afford to slip any further.
Kulfan doesn’t mention the part where Curt Fraser, in a scrum at the end of the day, said to the press, “But he’s special, I mean, he’s a goalie.” Fraser believes that, should McCollum be able to put bad goals behind him and simply focus on stopping the next shot, he can and will succeed.
There’s no doubt that he’s got a brain more massive than his noggin (Bullwinkle is an appropriate nickname), and there’s no doubt that McCollum’s got the skills, but he needs a session or two with one of his idols, Dominik Hasek, to remind him that he can only stop the next shot, and that being angry or upset about the one that beat him one or five shots ago won’t change the fact that any goalie can only worry about stopping the next shot.
I can’t tell you how naturally talented McCollum is at the position, but whether it’s oddly-placed rebounds (shots that would bounce off and harmlessly away from your average goalie tend to hit his pads at odd angles and rattle around perilously close to his body) or his tendency to have to make the spectacular second or third save…
I might suggest changing his equipment (despite the fact that he’s a Brian’s manufacturing poster boy) or changing something to get him out of his rut. He’s a fantastic talent and as level-headed a human being as you’ll ever meet, but he’s in need of a karmic or outlook re-set.
In any case, Kulfan, the Free Press’s George Sipple and the Red Wings’ website’s crew were in town, as were the local 9&10 News, WPBN 7&4 and the Traverse City Record-Eagle, so they can probably offer you more in-depth and/or polished coverage than I can.
What I can do is start at the end and tell you that the players who’ve attended camp before, and are being counted upon to set an example—and, very specifically, McCollum, Smith, Brian Lashoff, Travis Ehrhardt, Brent Raedeke, try-out turned prospect Trevor Parkes, Landon Ferraro and Mitchell Callahan in particular—were all but certain that an extra day’s worth of all-day fitness and on-ice sessions (every other prospect camp’s been a seven-day affair, with five days of the grueling 8-to-5 schedule; this one has six of those days!) was going to be another opportunity to learn from Griffins coach Fraser, assistant coach Jim Paek, Wings video coach Keith McKittrick, Fischer, skill-development coach Tomas Storm (whose body fat must be at 0.01%), Cranbrook-Kingswood coach and power skating instructor Andy Weidenbach and goalie coach Jim Bedard (for the goalies, anyway) meant nothing but good things—engaging in a road trip-like atmosphere in a small town where one can go out and enjoy himself outdoors before getting back before curfew…
While the draft picks and try-outs who haven’t been here before (the Chelioses, Frasers and Novak have all attended camp previously) have no idea of what a grind they’re in for over the next seven days.
Well, maybe they do after today.
The first day of every prospect camp I’ve attended—and Smith has one more than I do under his belt, an astonishing five summer camps—involves a sort of “getting to know you” skate in which the players get an initial feel for each other, the kinds of skills that will be emphasized (puck retrieval, battling drills, outlets and transition game and/or counterattack drills as the Wings are a puck possession team, mostly flow and technique, for lack of a better term) and the coach’s expectations.
After a good dozen whistles and or, “Whoa, Whoa’s!” from Curt Fraser and Jim Paek, stopping drills because they either weren’t being done properly (1/3 of the time) or simply because they weren’t being approached at a serious-enough level of competition and/or Red Wings-like pace (read: breakneck, and 2/3of the time)...
By the standards of the intricate stickhandling that Storm will have the players doing at slow-motion pace to encourage muscle memory, the edge-work that Weidenbach will emphasize in terms of skating and the rumbling of the ice, scrape-scrape-scraping of skates and the bodychecks and highlight reel goals that will occur over the next week, Thursday’s 45-minute skates for both Team Lidstrom and Team Zetterberg were a little simplistic, but they were not easy. Fraser and Paek made sure of that.
Just as importantly, from what the players tell me, Piet Van Zant and the Wings’ trainers work the players’ tails off in the weight room, ensuring that all the baseline fitness testing the prospects engaged in on Wednesday, prior to boarding a bus to Traverse City, will result in quantifiable progress measured via end-of-the-camp testing and a player-by-player prescription as to which areas the prospects must improve.
Smith’s right—this is a business trip for the Wings’ prospects. It’s work, and it’s a job, it’s their job to soak up as much as they can from the Griffins’ coaches, McKittrick, Fischer, Storm, Weidenbach, Van Zant, Bedard and their peers, so that the ones who return for the prospect tournament can win the damn thing for the first time and those who stick through the main camp won’t draw the ire of Mike Babcock for forcing him to explain something more than once.
Perhaps therein lies the reason that one or two of Tyson Teichmann, Danny Dekeyser, Brad Walch, Adam Estoclet, Evan Mosher, Travis Novak, Artem Sergeev or Zachery Franko, barring a superb showing at the Wings’ prospect tournament and main camp in the fall, might find earn a spot on the team’s 50-man roster. If these players can keep up with what happens over the next seven days, both on and off the ice, and if they can repeat the feats during the prospect tournament and main camp…They can keep up, and that ain’t easy.
That’s where this gets interactive, because it’s going to be pretty hard for me to keep up with what happens in the kind of detail I did a year ago. The power outage at Joe Louis Arena that serendipitously spurned the Wings to send their prospects up here also cut short what were going to be five days of getting to the rink at 8 and not leaving till 5, and when you’re both covering the prospect camp and maintaining the blog (it’s a full-time job 12 moths a year now, and July is particularly busy: see: free agency, what I’m doing now, the Wings’ announcing their assistant coaches on Friday and probably their back-up netminder’s identity early next week), monitoring the content that other outlets churn out and trying to create your own, well…
That power outage forced the Wings to combine workout groups and it saved my fat butt. This year is going to be different, a little leaner and a little less toward novella length so that when the Wings wrap up camp a week from today (Thursday), I’ll have attended all eight days.
Let me know how technical you want me to get in terms of drills—they at least repeat twice a day, so perhaps a brief “mid-day report” might focus on that a little more—let me know which players particularly interest you, if you want me to interview someone in particular, watch for something, follow up on an observation, etc. etc.
Regarding said drills, Jim Bedard focused on both lateral push-off drills and something I hadn’t seen before: he’s got a new drill that I can best describe as, “Beat him to the far post,” where the goaltender will be splayed out in a full butterfly position, but leaning toward his blocker or catch glove side, with the other side of the net open, and the goalie has to beat a shooter (and they were all forwards, no defensemen!) to the puck and make a save—with the shooter placed all of ten feet in front of the net and five feet across from where the goaltender’s center of mass is located. That was pretty darn cool to watch because the goalies made some beautiful saves, the scorers slithered pucks past ‘em like it was easy and Mitchell Callahan (the only visor-less player) shot wide. And laughed about it.
In terms of player drills, very early on, battling for the puck in the corners off a dump-in was emphasized, with the players involved doing their best to get to the puck first and then spin out of the corner, either toward the boards or toward the net. The savvier types like Smith utilized the opportunity to lay out a few thundering bodychecks in the process.
The defensemen in particular were also engaged in a surprising drill in which Fraser had them shooting pucks at from the blueline at defensemen stationed in front of the net to tip shots. At least once Paek told the players, “Aim for his stick, don’t take his head off!”
Mostly, however, the drills were very Red Wing-like. Defensemen dishing break-out passes to opposing forward who’d skate to the opposite blueline and then skate right back at said defenseman, end-to-end drills where a 2-on-1 would become a 3-on-1 or 3-on-2 as a forward and/or defenseman would shuffle in from one of the blueline positions on the rush or on the counterattack, tossing in lateral passes or the occasional drop pass, and often incorporating the forward from the 2-on-1 skating to the net and staying there to screen the goalie, tip shots and go for active rebounds as another forward and defenseman joined the mix. The players were skated hard, fast, and were stopped mid-stride if their positioning wasn’t good enough (i.e. if they’re taking the outside route to the net, for example), if their passes weren’t crisp, the pace wasn’t fast enough or if they plain old didn’t get the drills.
Both Fraser and Paek are great teaching coaches because they’re not afraid to stop drills to make sure that things are done right, and they do so regularly enough that, nine times out of ten, the player isn’t called out specifically. It’s just that the drill wasn’t done right and that it needs to be fixed, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to fix it.
The skating sessions were so short that Tomas Storm and Andy Weidenbach’s only appearances involved making appearances and, in Storm’s case, displaying a body fat percentage that would make Gerard Butler, circa 300, look out of shape (let’s just say that this comfort-padded fellow feels like a Goodyear Blimp when Storm’s in his skivvies), but they’ll get to work during the split sessions from Friday to Wednesday.
There really wasn’t all that much cohesion on a player-by-player basis other than to state the obvious:
• The players who’ve been here before and are members of the Grand Rapids Griffins understand that it’s their job to lead, and as such, Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Travis Ehrhardt in particular set the tone on defense, Thomas McCollum’s the seasoned pro, so to speak, in the net, and Brent Raedeke and the graduating-to-Grand-Rapids class in Landon Ferraro, Mitchell Callahan and Gustav Nyquist are the gents in charge up front.
• The conspicuous absences, like those of Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan, mostly involve taking college courses, injuries or conflicts with their pro teams’ off-season training, and in the case of Alexei Marchenko and Mattias Backman, the whole, “Welcome to the Red Wings, can you come to Traverse City, Michigan in ten days for a nine-day camp?” lack of notice.
• Some of those younger players also had a case of what I’d like to call “lake stare.” Tomas Jurco may be Mr. YouTube, and my goodness, does he have magic hands, but he’s also 18 and still kind of stunned about being a Red Wing to begin with.
On a per-player-by-per-player basis?
Well, some of my observations are long and some of them aren’t anything because watching thirty-nine players skate for about 45 minutes apiece isn’t going to generte anything earth-shattering. Quite frankly, I know that some of the players I think don’t quite cut it will in fact earn contracts—I figured that Trevor Parkes and Darren Archibald were toss-ups at best, and Parkes is a Wings prospect with tons of promise, Archibald is at the Canucks’ camp—and that as one observer, I can be wrong, because while Andy Miele wasn’t the Wings’ speed, the mighty-mite from Miami of Ohio is a Phoenix Coyotes prospect now.
In any case…
Thomas McCollum: He’s bigger in his stance, more composed and compact in his movements and he’s better laterally, but again, rebounds still come off him funny.
Petr Mrazek: Still a tremendously technically sound butterfly goaltender, possibly wearing the same Reebok leg pads and Vaughn gloves he wore during training camp, and no longer leaf-thin off the ice.
Brendan Smith: I’m not sure that he’s NHL-ready, but even compared to training camp, he’s learned to not take that extra half-second to make a decision before moving the puck. He’s more positionally sound, relying on his skating a little less to make up for mistakes, and he remains energetic, enthusiastic and ever-so-slightly nasty at times.
Adam Almqvist: Not as small as before but can get turned around pretty easily on the rush.
Brian Lashoff: Utterly and completely solid as a stay-at-home defenseman who’s big, strong, smart and a proficient puck-mover.
Nick Jensen: Going into his second season with the Saint Cloud State Huskies with much more confidence and strength. Looks sharp.
Xavier Ouellet: Even from a first glance, he’s superbly skilled. Nice hands.
Ryan Sproul: Frickin’ huge, technically proficient.
Richard Nedomlel: May have been made dizzy not only by antibiotics, but also his size. Dear me, he’s a frickin’ elk on ice.
Gustav Nyquist: The only player not wearing Reebok or CCM gloves—custom-made Warriors instead. Energetic, enthusiastic, easygoing and very skilled, but still needs to fill out a bit.
Trevor Parkes: Having the contract doesn’t mean he’s not still driven to prove people wrong and mash a few players into the boards in the process during every shift.
Willie Coetzee: Still a whirling dervish. When the puck and he go in the same direction, pretty things happen.
Landon Ferraro: Looks more confident in himself. Still, like McCollum, he can get frustrated and let things bug him.
Tomas Jurco: The Slovaks must make these kids in a factory. Same wide-legged skating stride as Tomas Kopecky or Marian Hossa, same posture, same toe curve on the stick (I think), same tinted visor, slick moves, and a little awestruck.
Louis-Marc Aubry: If he can grow into his massive frame and continue to display the kinds of hands and nose for the net he did without contact when the quarters get close, wow.
Mitchell Callahan: Says he’s got to wear a visor for insurance purposes. Now Kris Draper-ripped. Still endlessly enthusiastic and gritty, good hands, nose for the net, missing two front teeth as usual.
Marek Tvrdon: I had a hard time trying to figure out whether his wide-shouldered skating stance was due to his size or because he was still wearing more shoulder protection than the average player. Let’s just say that he almost immediately showed me why the Wings picked him, and why he was picked when he was picked.
Philippe Hudon: Frickin’ big and has four years of college eligibility to go.
Tyson Teichmann: Teichnically proficient, spelling error intended.
That was the first day.
Interviews: I didn’t get every scrum and I didn’t cover every player but I did my best to speak to several prospects.
Here’s Mitchell Callahan…
And parts of the scrum around Brendan Smith…
And the very end of Curt Fraser’s comments:
Also of Red Wings-related note this evening: Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner duly notes that we can classify the Chris Conner signing as “depth”;
• According to Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia’s Heather Wentz, former Wing Mark Howe was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame;
• In the charitable news department, via the Winnipeg Sun...
Winnipeg’s own Jonathan Toews is getting ready to face off against some former Winnipeg Jets on the links next week.
The Chicago Blackhawks captain will be swinging his irons along with the likes of former Jets Thomas Steen, Dave Ellett and Ab McDonald in the Jonathan Toews and Friends Celebrity Pro-Am at the Pine Ridge Golf Club on July 12th.
Others also teeing off starting at 10:30 a.m. will include: Neepawa’s Shane Hnidy of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, Winnipeg’s Nigel Dawes (Montreal Canadiens), Darren Helm of St. Andrews (Detroit Red Wings), Winnipeg’s Travis Zajac (New Jersey Devils), and such ex-NHLers as recent NHL Hall of Fame inductee Doug Gilmour, Winnipeg’s Mike Keane, Denis Savard and Cliff Koroll.
• And ditto, via Dallas’s WFAA:
The Reebok Heroes celebrity baseball game returns to the Dr Pepper Ballpark this weekend with a celebrity line that includes Dez Bryant, DeMarcus Ware and seven-time NHL all-star Mike Modano.
WFAA’s Casey Norton talks about the game in a one-on-one with Modano:
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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.