The Detroit Red Wings opened their 2019 summer development camp with a split set of morning and afternoon drills for Teams Howe and Lindsay, respectively.
While prep players warmed up and worked with the Wings’ goaltenders–with goalie coaches Jeff Salajko, Brian Mahoney-Wilson and Matej Swoch overseeing the proceedings–the skaters engaged in a pair of fitness-testing benchmarks.
Approximately half the skaters got their “skating test” baselines, skating through a set of break-the-light-beam gates at 0, 5, 10 and 25 meters (not feet), and the players hustled their tails off with varying degrees of smoothness through each of the gates;
The other half of players worked a “touch test” in which the skaters skated in a “T” formation while touching sensors spread out along the “T,” helping judge both player quickness through about 15 feet worth of space and helping test the players’ reflexes.
After a short break and a resurfacing of the ice via one Al Sobotka, the skaters worked on a full hour’s worth of shooting drills, coached by skill development coach Brandon Narauto.
Narauto, director of player development Shawn Horcoff and player development specialist Daniel Cleary gave the skaters half-a-dozen drills’ worth of shot attempts to work on, with the players split into 4 groups to oppose the 4 goaltenders playing for each team.
Narauto would ask the players to shoot off their “normal” leg (the leg opposite the side of their body from which they shoot, their “off” leg, to shuffle their feet six times before shooting, to “hide” the puck from goaltenders on their backhand before releasing a forehand shot, to lean on their sticks to give wrist shots more “pop,” to toe drag, shoot from the heel, etc.
Both the skating, reflex and shooting drills were witnessed by an absolutely packed coaches’/family suite above the BELFOR Practice Facility ice. Steve Yzerman, the pro scouts, amateur scouts and Red Wings’ coaches were all in attendance, including coach Jeff Blashill, and it was fascinating to sometimes peek over the players and see scouts or coaches receiving real-time feedback on iPads or laptops.
Shawn Horcoff may insist that the summer development camp is not, not and also not an evaluation camp, but it’s hard to not take note of the metrics available to oneself over the course of a day, be they hard data or observations, and there will be no roster spots won or lost based upon this week’s activities, but one can’t help but take and make some impressions.
As such, here are a set of cursory observations and assessments made from today’s proceedings, on a player-by-player basis:
#14 Robert Mastrosimone: Small at 5’10” and a legitimately-listed 170 pounds, the Chicago Steel graduate posted more than a point per game at the USHL level, and he’s headed to Boston University this fall. Mastrosimone didn’t impress in terms of size, but he was speedy and diligent. He was one of the players who tried to get every drill right, and that’s a good impression to make on a first day.
#44 Ryan O’Reilly: O’Reilly didn’t dominate in the goal-scoring department during his final USHL season, but the plucky 6’2,” 201-pound forward is heading to the University of Denver to score goals. O’Reilly has a deceptively smart shot and he’s a speedy forward with the puck on his stick, which isn’t easy for everybody.
#46 Chase Pearson: Turning pro at 22, the University of Maine co-captain stands at 6’2″ and 200 pounds of muscle, and while Pearson had an up-and-down senior campaign, he managed to crack the Grand Rapids Griffins’ stacked forward lineup for 10 games. In an ideal world, the heavy-up-the-middle center offers a combination of scoring and passing abilities while displaying good two-way play. Pearson has worked very hard to improve both his skating and physical conditioning over his past 3 years at Maine.
#56 Ryan Kuffner: Kuffner is a bit of a mystery to me. The 6’1,” 195-pound graduate of Princeton posted more than a point per game at the NCAA level (44 points in 31 games), and the Red Wings made no small coup in signing the 23-year-old, but he didn’t dazzle at all during his time with the Wings, and Kuffner will start his 2019-20 campaign in Grand Rapids or Toledo. He’s on a short developmental path due to his age, and he didn’t stand out–good or bad–during the first day’s activities.
#57 Jonatan Berggren: Berggren had a trying season, suffering a stress fracture after only 16 games played for Skelleftea AIK of the SHL, but he’s put on at least 2 inches of height and a good 25 pounds of strength due to the fact that he had to spend the balance of his 2018-19 campaign in the gym. Berggren looks like a different young man a year removed from his drafting, and he will test out his back during the summer development camp, most likely on Wednesday morning.
#62 Cody Morgan**: Morgan gets two asterisks for being a free agent invite. The 5’11,” 183-pound Morgan was passed over in the draft after posting 39 points in 63 games for Windsor and Flint of the OHL, and his hustle was evident during his first day of development camp, but that’s about all I saw in the slightly undersized forward.
It should be noted that UFA invites like Morgan and Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted players tend to make their way onto the Red Wings’ fall prospect tournament team, so these players are setting the table for future employment.
#76 Jarid Lukosevicius*: Lukosevicius represents the other kind of player that the Wings invite to summer development camps and fall prospect tournaments. At 24 years of age, the University of Denver graduate and 5’10,” 185-pound forward is likely to begin his professional campaign with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, but the plucky little forward showed jam and poise.
#79 Samuel Bucek**: Bucek is a third kind of player–an undrafted European free agent that has pro aspirations, but was passed over in both his draft years, so the Wings are trying to get a “free look” at a player who is turning pro this year. Bucek is 6’3″ and 192 pounds, and the SLovakian posted 51 points in 53 games with Nitra of the Slovak league. He made very little impression upon me during his first day, but someone with that kind of point total–even in a slightly watered-down league like Slovakia–is worth watching. He’s heading to Finland for the upcoming season.
#81 Alex Limoges**: The Wings invited the 22-year-old Limoges to their summer development camp to get a look at a player who posted 50 points in 39 games with Penn State this past season. The 6’1,” 201-pound center displayed a scorer’s poise in limited viewing.
#85 Elmer Soderblom: The 2019 draft pick and Frolunda Indians junior team forward displayed something I didn’t expect to see in a 6’7,” 220-pound package–smoothness in his skating, shooting, passing and general body language. Guys this big who are only 18 are supposed to be all arms and legs, gangly and uncoordinated. Soderblom may or may not have the chops to become an NHL player down the line, but he has nothing to worry about in terms of growing into his body. That’s intriguing.
#88 Chad Yetman**: An OHL invitee, the 5’11,” 176-pound Erie Otters forward was passed over in both of his draft years, and at 19, he posted 57 points in 68 games for Erie. The Wings are bringing Yetman in for the summer development camp and possibly the fall prospect tournament to see whether there’s something to be had. I didn’t see much of Yetman, and he merely looked OK. He kept up.
#90 Joe Veleno: Not overly big at 6’1″ and 191 pounds, the 2018 first-round pick is likely going to turn pro with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins this fall, and while Veleno posted a massive 104 points in only 59 games played with the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, I’m not sure whether he’s going to end up playing as an offensive player in the NHL. Veleno has all the tools necessary (shot, passing, playmaking, vision, checking, skating, heads-up hockey sense) to be a scorer at the NHL level, but the Red Wings may very well need him to serve as a Kris Draper-style 3rd line, defensive shut-down center. We shall see where Veleno’s development takes him.
#53 Moritz Seider: On first glance, it’s the little things that set the Red Wings’ 2019 first-round draft pick apart. Big at 6’4″ and 207 pounds, Seider possesses an almost Soderblom-like ability to manage his massive frame without the kind of natural, normal awkwardness you’d expect from someone so big at such a young age. Seider stands out because he is poised and relatively polished for his age–the fact that he played in a professional hockey league against men shows–and while I’m pretty certain that the Adler Mannheim defenseman is going back to Germany after the prospect tournament and main training camp, but he looked understatedly sound and steady. He skates well, he keeps his head up when the puck is on his stick, he passes and makes plays well, and he’s got good vision. I’m going to be very interested to watch what happens when physical battling commences.
#63 Alec McCrea*: A Grand Rapids Griffins signee, the 24-year-old graduate of Cornell is big at 6’3″ and 212 pounds, but if he’s starting anywhere this fall, based upon the Wings’ blueline crunch, it will be in Toledo for the Walleye. I can’t say that he made much of a first-day impression.
#73 Malte Setkov: I audibly sighed when I looked him up on Elite Prospects. Setkov is intriguing and frustrating all at the same time. The 20-year-old didn’t play much, splitting his season between the Malmo Redhawks of the SHL, IK Pantern of the Allsvenskan, and the Danish national team, he was a bit shaky at the World Juniors, and yet here is this big, gangly, sometimes amusingly uncoordinated 6’6,” 192-pound defenseman who has the puck skills to spare, has good skating prowess, big size and some snarl to him on occasion, and he can’t really seem to put the disparate elements of his game together. The Wings might have a fascinating project on their hands if Malte ever gets his stuff together.
#84 Kasper Kotkansalo: Going into his junior year at Boston University, Kasper is either on his way to becoming a great Finnish League defenseman or a Kyle Quincey-like shut-down defender for the Red Wings. I’m just not sure which one. The 21-year-old stands a steady 6’2″ and 196 pounds, and Kasper has improved his skating over each of the past two seasons, which is very good to see, but he hasn’t really made the jump into the top four at BU, and it is imperative for Kasper to spend the next two seasons playing in the top four at BU. He’s at something of a developmental crossroads, and while he is affable to a fault, being a good person doesn’t necessarily make you the best hockey player by default.
#95 Albert Johansson: Johansson has some NHL bloodlines in his father, Roger, who was a stay-at-home defenseman for Calgary and several Swedish teams. Albert isn’t big at 6′ and 168 listed pounds, but the Farjestads BK defenseman posted 29 points in 40 Under-18 league games, and he looked steady enough over the course of one morning’s skill and skating drills.
#96 Cooper Moore: Moore, like Johansson, was a late 2019 draft pick, and Moore, like Johansson, isn’t huge at 6’1″ and 181 listed pounds. He posted 31 points in 28 Connecticut High School league games, and he’s headed to the BCHL to play for the Chilliwack Chiefs, before heading to the University of North Dakota in 21-22. Moore looked speedy and strong in limited viewing.
#98 Owen Lalonde**: The Guelph Storm defenseman was brought in due to a 41-points-in-68-games campaign despite being passed over in his draft year. The 6’1,” 185-pound defenseman looked steady, but that’s about all I got out of him.
#34 Victor Brattstrom: The Red Wings’ pair of Swedish netminders drafted in 2018–Brattstrom, from Timra IK, and Jesper Eliasson, from Vaxjo–serve as dark horses in the Wings’ still-somewhat-shaky goaltending pipeline. It is possible that either one of the Swedish netminders might shore up the pipeline considerably if they are able to dazzle in the Swedish leagues. Brattstrom, massive at 6’5″ and 198 pounds, is already 22, and he had a so-so campaign splitting time in Timra IK’s net, but the SHL netminder is massive in terms of his body size, and he plays a lot like Jonas Gustavsson. He’s a blocking-style goaltender who maximizes his size to boot pucks out of trouble and mash them into the corners with his blocker and stick. He’s got a solid glove hand, good positioning and he reads the North American ice well.
#36 Kaden Fulcher: Fulcher is likely to reprise his role as the Toledo Walleye’s co-starter opposite Pat Nagle, and the 22-year-old is like Kasper Kotkansalo: he needs to make a jump in terms of his development, and he needs to make a jump to either playing more ECHL games or earning an AHL spot relatively quickly. The 6’3,” 182-pound goaltender had an OK rookie pro campaign in Toledo, but as big and sound as he may be, Fulcher still has some “holes” that can be exploited, and it’s time to seal those holes up.
#38 Filip Larsson: Perhaps at the other end of the spectrum, Larsson represents the Wings’ best hope in the crease, despite having suffered a pair of groin injuries that hampered his past two campaigns. Turning pro after a year spent at the University of Denver, the 22-year-old stands at a rather average-for-today 6’2″ and 187 pounds, but the Swedish netminder is patient, composed, well-positioned and anticipates plays very well as he uses his long legs and adept arms to steer pucks into areas of less danger. He’s fun to watch, smart, and he possesses a lot of potential as a possible starter down the line. He needs to have a good rookie pro season regardless of whether he ends up in Grand Rapids or Toledo.
#68 Drew DeRidder**: DeRidder is a Jeff Lerg-sized goaltender, listed at 5’10” and 159 pounds, and he had an OK freshman season at MSU. DeRidder possesses impeccable fundamentals and looks good stopping the puck, but he’s simply a very small netminder, and you have to be exceptional these days to be a small netminder who can make it at the pro level.
#11 Filip Zadina: It was a big bummer to hear that the top prospect will probably miss this year’s development camp–at least in terms of its on-ice activities–due to an injured hamstring suffered during training. Zadina could have used the confidence boost he was in line for as the most talented forward in attendance, but shit happens when you train, and after a so-so rookie pro campaign in Grand Rapids, Zadina still possesses “all the tools” necessary to be a star goal-scorer at the NHL level–but he definitely got a rude wake-up call as to how hard it is to play against men who are putting food on the table as professional athletes. He’s going to have to double his resolve as he prepares for his sophomore campaign.
#18 Albin Grewe: Summer development camps are shitty places to try to make assessments of gritty, nasty players, and Grewe is the kind of gritty, nasty player who needs to be viewed in a situation where he’s able to grind down his opponents with bombastic checks and dirty plays. That’s simply not the situation this week at the BELFOR Training Center, and the 6,’ 187-pound Djurgardens IF junior team forward impressed me most simply because he worked his tail off to do every drill right. Grewe displayed a professional level of focus, and that was cool to see from an 18-year-old.
#22 Ethan Phillips: The Red Wings’ 4th round draft pick is something of a puzzle for me. The Wings drafted a 5’9,” 146-pound forward who played for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede with the 97th overall pick, and the Boston University-bound forward is indeed as speedy as you would hope a small forward to be, but that’s what I saw out of him.
#42 Mathieu Bizier**: The Red Wings invited the 6’1,” 187-pound QMJHL forward to development camp as someone who was passed over in his draft year despite posting 39 points in 68 games. Bizier turned 18 two months ago, and he more or less floated along with the stream of tryouts.
#49 Otto Kivenmaki: The Red Wings took a flyer on the 5’8,” 154-pound forward from Assat Pori of the Finnish Liiga because he can be a buzz bomb of a puck-carrier when he’s on. He posted 16 points in 34 men’s league games and 35 points in 23 junior league games…But he was drafted at somewhere around 135 pounds and maybe 5’6,” so Kivenmaki looked gigantic compared to his draft year self. He’s conscientious and diligent.
#50 Thomas Casey*: Another small forward, the 5’8,” 185-pound Charlottetown forward was passed over for his past two draft years despite posting 34 points in 54 games, and Casey did stand out in an Ethan Phillips way–he was fast and fast with the puck.
#58 Jack Adams: Adams is another player who needs to “make a jump.” The 6’5,” 204-pound Adams is 22 and going into his junior year at Union College, and he’s managed to post more points during each campaign in the ECAC college conference, but he needs to more consistently display the goal-scoring form that the Wings drafted him for, and he’s still got some coordination issues from time to time.
#67 Taro Hirose: The 22-year-old forward may or may not take part in this week’s development camp due to a day-to-day injury, and it would have been useful for the 5’10,” 160-pound mighty mite to continue to improve upon his strong rookie campaign for the Wings.
Hirose is, to some extent, the poster child for the college invites who have so-so summer development camps, and can’t come back for the fall prospect tournament due to NCAA schooling, because Hirose didn’t dominate last summer, mostly floating along with the tryouts as a small fish in a big pond, but he had such a dominant 2018-19 season that the Red Wings were happy to sign him and see him blossom at the pro level.
Sometimes these “kids” can in fact develop into talented players on their own, and that’s the key to player development–the players taking the knowledge that they learn this week, both on and off the ice, and utilizing it to become better players, athletes and people.
#75 Troy Loggins**: The Grand Rapids Griffins took a flyer on the 5’9,” 161-pound Northern Michigan forward after a 40-points-in-39-games campaign, and the 23-year-old forward will probably start the year with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, where he’ll have to overcome his size.
#78 Gregor MacLeod**: The Griffins also picked up MacLeod, a 6,’ 183-pound forward who posted 84 points in 60 games for Joe Veleno’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. Sometimes it’s a useful thing to pluck the teammates of your higher-end prospects out of their developmental league and see what they can do in the AHL or ECHL.
#82 Odeen Tufto*: Tufto is yet another small forward. Tufto stands at 5’8″ and 174 pounds, and the 22-year-old forward from Quinnipiac posted 42 points in 38 games in his junior year. He was speedy but didn’t stand out.
#89 Owen Robinson*: The Wings gave an invite to a 6,’ 170-pound forward who posted 41 points in 61 games with the Sudbury Wolves, but was passed over in both the 2018 and 2019 drafts. I didn’t see much of him other than hustle.
#24 Antti Tuomisto: I really enjoyed my first “viewing” of Antti Tuomisto. At 6’4″ and 194 pounds, the Red Wings’ early 2nd round draft pick posted 35 points in 45 Finnish Junior league games, and Tuomisto plain old looked smooth out there. Very big, sometimes “heavy” on his skates, the big Finn displayed strength, poise, and heads-up play. Tuomisto both knows Otto Kivenmaki, his Assat Pori teammate, and Wings signee Oliwer Kaski.
#26 Marc-Olivier Duquette*: Another Drummondville Voltigeurs invite, Duquette is a big 6’4,” 205-pound defenseman who posted 24 points in 50 games with the “Volts.” He looked big and steady in limited viewing.
#28 Gustav Lindstrom: I watched Lindstrom at some length, and I am very happy to say that the 6’2,” 187-pound defenseman from Frolunda has gained the step that I felt was necessary for Lindstrom to turn North American pro–as well as a good fifteen pounds’ worth of muscle and strength. Lindstrom is never going to be a 200-pounder, but he’s really done a great job of rounding out his game by turning flaws into assets, and I am excited to see whether he can crack the Griffins’ lineup this fall.
#86 Seth Barton: Barton is a bit of a mystery player to me. The UMass-Lowell defenseman is still 19 going on 20 as a sophomore, and the right-shooting, 6’3,” 174-pounder had a solid freshman campaign, but…I struggle to peg down his playing style. Barton is fairly fast and is a good puck-lugger, and I know that the Red Wings believe that he has offensive skill left to develop, but I don’t see it. Not yet, anyway.
#87 Charles-Edouard D’Astous**: I was intrigued to see the Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted D’Astous in person. The Rimouski Oceanic captain posted 66 points in 55 games played, and he was named the QMJHL’s humanitarian of the year. Big at 6’2″ and 205 pounds, D’Astous possesses a high level of urgency to his game, as well as some polish and poise. He was able to keep up with the shooting drills with as much aplomb as you could expect out of an offensive defenseman. He’ll probably start the year in Grand Rapids or Toledo, but his pedigree suggests that the 21-year-old could be a “bonus draft pick” down the line.
#92 Patrick Holway: Holway is in an unusual situation. He had to sit out the 2018-2019 season after withdrawing from the University of Maine, and he is hoping to re-start his NCAA career with Merrimack University as a junior-year player. The 22-year-old defenseman is massive at 6’4″ and 204 pounds, and it is very evident that he used his year away from the rink to bulk up and finally fill out what was a gangly frame. He still looks a little uncoordinated from time to time, but he’s a big puck-mover who possesses top-four potential.
#94 Alec Regula: Regula did not take part in Tuesday’s activities for unspecified reasons. The 6’4,” 203-pound defenseman had a very solid season with the London Knights, posting 39 points in 66 games, and I was hoping to see some offensive chops start to develop from a complimentary-pairing defenseman. We shall see what develops.
#97 Gustav Berglund: Berglund was drafted 177th overall by the Wings this past weekend, and the 6’2,” 190-pound defenseman made it to development camp with a 29-points-in-28-Under-18-league-games season in tow. The right-handed defender made a favorable first impression.
#00 Robbie Beydoun*: The free agent invitee stands at 6′ and 185 pounds–which is small by these days’ standards–and the Plymouth, MI native was invited to camp after playing 12 games for Michigan Tech as a sophomore. He possesses a flourishing, flashy glove hand. He needs some work on the other aspects of his game, but as someone who played 1/3rd of his team’s games, he needs to get and/or earn more playing time to further develop.
#31 Jesper Eliasson: The other side of the Wings’ Swedish sleeper goaltender coin, while Victor Brattstrom is a massive puck-blocker of the Jonas Gustavsson variety, the 6’3,” 209-pound Eliasson…has earned the nickname “white bread” from me. His goaltending style is absolutely out-of-a-can, plain, plain and plain, but it’s effective. Eliasson does nothing spectacularly, but he played in 33 games for Vaxjo’s J20 team, posting 19 wins and a 2.43 goals-against average (and .919 save percentage). If he can find more consistent play, the 19-year-old has a lot of potential as a safe and steady netminder.
#60 Carter Gylander: Gylander, like Beydoun, split time and development while playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, but the 6’5,” 172-pound netminder is all legs (and arms, to a lesser extent). He’s got a gigantic frame, and he’s got a lot of raw talent as well. He plays an athletic butterfly style and his hands are sharp.
#80 Keith Petruzzelli: Petruzzelli is the goaltending version of every other really affable hockey player who needs to make a big leap. Going into his junior year at Quinnipiac, Petruzzelli was twice named the starter, and twice, he lost the starting job to Andrew Shortridge. He’s a gigantic 6’6″ and 185 gangly pounds, and he plays a very narrow, upright style that blossoms into a wider stance as pucks come toward him. Regrettably, he still has some holes in his game, and, like Fulcher, he can take goals against personally, yielding a cascade of sometimes shaky goals against. He’s got all the tools and all the work ethic necessary to round into fine form–he just has to do it.
*=Free agent invite **=Grand Rapids Griffins contract
Thus ends my first of five assessments of the Red Wings’ summer development camp. If you liked what you read, if you didn’t like what you read, if you like this blog in general and if you know what it’s like to have your savings depleted due to familial health crap, I would be thrilled if you sent me a couple of bucks at https://paypal.me/themalikreport, or if you want, you can subscribe to my Patreon page at https://patreon.com/TheMalikReport.
I will be working on a Patreon-first column, merchandise and possibly a podcast over the summer and into the fall…
But for the present moment, I’d like to be able to pay for gas ($2.85 in South Lyon, 38 miles from LCA), food and Diet Mountain Dew (those 20-ounce bottles are crazy expensive. I should just bring 2-liters). I’m honestly working off a loan from my mom, so if you can lend a hand so that maybe I could break even at the end of the week, that’d be awesome.
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