The Detroit Red Wings’ prospects spent Tuesday generating data and working on shooting drills; Wednesday yielded a massive change-up as split squads of defensemen and then forwards worked with one of two skill development experts.
Team Lindsay, which includes players like Taro Hirose (for part of the day, at least), Gustav Lindstrom and Jesper Eliasson, worked with Swedish skill development coach Daniel Broberg, a tattooed, bearded Swede who had skaters of all varieties jumping, hopping and otherwise leaping their way through stickhandling drills that first challenged their hands and then required leaps of faith.
The skaters played some tag, too:
Team Howe, which includes Joe Veleno, Moritz Seider and Filip Larsson, worked with four coaches from Power Edge Pro, a skill development program made famous by Connor McDavid and John Tavares. Working with the PEP guys yields the usage of stickhandling tools designed to mimic the footprint of an opposing hockey player, encouraging skaters to stickhandle through as well as around their opponents.
The teams will swap out developmental coaches tomorrow, with Team Howe working with coach Broberg, and Team Lindsay working with the Power Edge Pro crew.
Thursday’s schedule looks like this:
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. – On-Ice Skill Development (Forwards/Goaltenders)
9:45 – 10:45 a.m. – On-Ice Skill Development (Defensemen)
11:30 – 12:30 p.m. – On-Ice Skill Development (Forwards/Goaltenders)
12:45 – 1:45 p.m. – On-Ice Skill Development (Defensemen)
On Wednesday, Team Lindsay began the day with the forwards and then defensemen working with Shawn Horcoff, Daniel Cleary and then coach Broberg (in front of what I need to mention was an absolutely packed coaches’ suite), first engaging in some marginally simple stickhandling drills, and slowly but surely working toward the drills which included jumping and/or a lot of coaching as to how to keep one’s torso upright instead of leaning over one’s toes when reaching for a stickhandling move.
In no small way, Broberg’s lessons were about posture (bending one’s knees as opposed to leaning over your toes) and using one’s skates and hands as a cohesive unit as much as anything else, but the hopping and outright jumping over the Power Edge Pro training devices was both breathtaking and terrifying to watch.
Some players were able to make full leaps into the air while pausing in the middle of a stickhandling move; most skipped over the PEP devices and stopped-and-started, and some players skated through the drills very slowly to try and get everything right.
In this case, there was no penalty for slowness: oftentimes, highly-skilled players would slow down to focus on executing all the skill elements necessary to complete a particular drill, and that was good to see. The players weren’t willing to rush through things simply to get through it.
The defensemen did a lot more jumping and hopping, too, and there were moments that guys did fall over, but they were few and far between. The stumbles, on the other hand, were numerous.
Toward the end of his sessions with forwards and defensemen, Broberg had the skaters essentially “play tag” as they skated around each other and each other’s sticks, placed perpendicular to said players, trying to grab the butt end of their stick and lift it up off the ice. No one was able to successfully complete the drill, but everyone who took part had fun in engaging in some play-wrestling and capture-the-flag style chasing.
During the early afternoon, forwards and defensemen worked with the Power Edge Pro team, and the atmosphere was less, “DIY Hockey” and more “corporate powerhouse takes part in team development camp.”
Again, the skaters began their afternoons with simpler stickhandling drills, but the players were soon stickhandling through mazes of PEP devices, dekeing and dangling hither and yon in zig-zag and diagonal patterns, with their work culminating in shots on goal.
After all, the goaltenders were given a workload of some sort, despite the fact that Wednesday and Thursday’s drills don’t specifically cater to goaltenders. Instead, the goalies came out half-an-hour before the scheduled start of activities to work with goalie coaches Jeff Salajko, Brian Mahoney-Wilson and Matej Swoch.
Overall, the players are spending two days engaged in intense skill development, ahead of Friday’s split session of skating drills in the morning and then a 3-on-3 tournament in the evening, and Saturday’s camp-culminating scrimmage. The more skill development that the players are exposed to–both on and off the ice–the more information they have with which to continue improving their play.
That’s the essence of player development right there–give the players as many tools for self-improvement as possible, and see which ones take the lessons to heart.
In terms of individual player assessments, on a team-by-team basis:
#14 Robert Mastrosimone: I’m still trying to figure out what sold the Wings on the 5’10,” 170-pound forward. Mastrosimone was picked 54th overall, and the Chicago Steel graduate who’s headed to Boston University posted a point per game at the USHL level, he possesses speed to spare, and he’s detail-oriented, but I don’t see what separates him from the better try-outs at this point.
#44 Ryan O’Reilly: According to DetroitRedWings.com’s Arthur J. Regner, O’Reilly is remaining with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers after an underwhelming USHL season, so the University of Denver will have to wait for the 19-year-old goal-scoring forward. O’Reilly had some skips and jumps in the literal senses thereof, but he is a superb goal-scorer, and another USHL season won’t hurt him in terms of honing his nose for the net.
#46 Chase Pearson: I’ve been impressed with Pearson’s on-ice attention to detail, and I was impressed by Pearson’s interview today. The 6’2,” 200-pound forward has some offensive chops, but he believes that he’s going to make his pro bread and butter by playing as a shut-down defensive center. The 22-year-old forward is very diligent in drills and he’s got great core strength.
#56 Ryan Kuffner: Kuffner had an awful start to development camp, but he came out as if he was shot out of a cannon on Wednesday, full of skill, energy and enthusiasm to spare. At 6’1″ and 195 pounds, he’s not overly big, but the Princeton graduate and 23-year-old forward executed well during the skating and stickhandling drills while managing to look faster, sharper and more like an AHL-bound forward who interned with the Wings this past season.
#57 Jonatan Berggren: Berggren took his first strides on the ice on Wednesday, and he put his back to the test engaging in the Power Edge Pro sessions, looking very, very good while he worked. He’s still not big at 5’10” and 181 pounds, but as he was drafted at 5’8″ and maybe 150-155 pounds, Berggren looks like a different player this time around, and he’s an excellent puck-lugging center.
#62 Cody Morgan**: Morgan didn’t set himself apart during the PEP drills, but the 5’11,” 183-pound Flint Firebirds forward did not stand out for anything negative. Like many free agent try-outs, he’s sort of working his way through development camp trying to keep up as best he can.
#76 Jarid Lukosevicius*: Lukosevicius looked a little better on Wednesday, displaying more poise with the puck and speed as the University of Denver graduate prepares to turn pro, most likely with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The 5’10,” 185-pound forward chugs up the gut with some vigor.
#79 Samuel Bucek**: Boy, Bucek is a baffling package for me. The 6’3,” 192-pound free agent forward posted 51 points in 53 games with Nitra of the Slovakian league, including 30 goals, and he sure can put the puck in the back of the net, but everything else about his game needs work. He’s going to play for KooKoo of the Finnish Liiga this upcoming season.
#81 Alex Limoges**: What a difference a day makes, positive version: Limoges posted 50 points in 39 games with Penn State this past season, and he was second only to Kuffner in terms of enthusiasm, energy and skill displayed up front for Team Howe. The Red Wings are hoping to land a college UFA or two who display the ability to punch above their weight class, as they say in boxing, and the 6’1,” 201-pound Limoges looked like a diamond in the rough for one day. Can he keep it up?
#85 Elmer Soderblom: Soderblom, still raw at 18, the 6’7,” 220-pound forward simply does not suffer form “big man’s syndrome,” and it’s refreshing to watch a massive left winger and 2019 draft pick skate as if he’s never been anything less than gigantic.
#88 Chad Yetman**: Yetman, like Morgan, is doing his best to keep up with his fellow try-outs. The 5’11,” 176-pound Erie Otters forward has been able to execute on the skill drills, but he hasn’t differentiated himself from the pack.
#90 Joe Veleno: The 6’1,” 191-pound forward had a better second day at development camp, showing more flashes of the scoring talent that propelled him to a 104-point campaign in the QMJHL. The Drummondville Voltigeurs captain continues to demonstrate that he’s got all the tools necessary to shoot, pass, make plays, witness them developing and do something about them both as an offensive player and a defensive stalwart.
#53 Moritz Seider: Team Howe’s defensemen worked out during a media availability for the most part on Wednesday, so I didn’t get to see enough of any of them.
That being said, aside from shanking a shot off the heel of his blade, Seider remained impeccably talented and remarkably composed for a 6’4,” 207-pound defenseman who’s all of 18. He reminds me of Veleno a year ago in that Seider comes to the table with a lot of professional habits and professional completion of every assigned task. I’m still interested in seeing him battle physically during the 3-on-3 tournament and scrimmage.
#63 Alec McCrea*: The Grand Rapids Griffins signee and 24-year-old defenseman will start his pro career in Toledo, and he was faster on his second day than his first, which is never a bad thing when you’re 6’3″ and 212 pounds.
#73 Malte Setkov: Another audible sigh from me. Setkov is gigantic at 6’6″ and 192 pounds, and when he puts the disparate parts of his game together, he’s an exciting prospect and intriguing project, but there are times that he has hiccups, or just doesn’t execute, and man, they’re frustrating.
#84 Kasper Kotkansalo: It was excellent to hear Kotkansalo admit that he had a crappy 2018-2019 season at Boston University, and Kotkansalo seems determined to ensure that his junior and senior years go much better. If he can add a step or two to his stride, he really will be Kyle Quincey II, and having both Mastrosimone and Phillips as teammates will give him the opportunity to further develop his leadership. He looked quite solid in the skating and stickhandling drills, with pace to his game.
#95 Albert Johansson: Johansson is something of a wild card. The 6,’ 168-pound defender from Farjestads BK is not overly big and not overly strong, but he possesses an NHL’ers DNA in that of his father, Roger, and he is a talented all-round defenseman.
#96 Cooper Moore: Moore is on a longer route toward professional hockey, heading from Connecticut high school to the BCHL to play for Chilliwack this upcoming season, and then heading to North Dakota for the following campaign (assuming there are no O’Reilly-like complications). He’s been solid but unspectacular.
#98 Owen Lalonde**: Lalonde isn’t any bigger than Moore, as both stand at 6’1″ and approximately 180 pounds, but the Guelph Storm try-out posted 41 points in 68 games during his draft year, and he displayed flashes of skill during the skill development drills.
#34 Victor Brattstrom: When I describe the 22-year-old Brattstrom as a sort of “Jonas Gustavsson 2,” I’m not giving him a full compliment. While Gustavsson was also a superb blocking-style netminder, the 6’5,” 198-pound Brattstrom, Timra IK’s starter, is a lot lighter on his feet and more maneuverable while down on the ice in the butterfly than Gustavsson, who basically picked a spot to drop into the butterfly and stayed there. Brattstrom can skitter and dash along the ice to seal up holes and readjust in the crease.
#36 Kaden Fulcher: Fulcher plain old didn’t play on Wednesday, which was unfortunate as the goaltenders got a fair amount of work. The 22-year-old stands at 6’3″ and 182 pounds, and while he did not have the best rookie campaign with the Toledo Walleye, his sophomore campaign should yield more consistency.
#38 Filip Larsson: Given that he’s missed so much time with groin injuries over the past two seasons, it’s not surprising that Larsson has a couple of “holes,” especially when he tries to be too fine making a glove save, but the vast majority of the time, the 6’2,” 187-pound turning-pro netminder looks calm, poised, very mobile and excellently technically sound in the crease. He’s not gigantic, but his legs and arms are long and he does a superb job maximizing his size.
#68 Drew DeRidder**: DeRidder is technically adept and sound in the cage, but that 5’10,” 159-pound frame may hold him back from the pro ranks. As I said about him on Tuesday, you have to be an exceptional goaltender to be a “small goalie” in the NHL these days.
#11 Filip Zadina: Zadina is unlikely to participate in the development camp due to a hamstring injury suffered during training, and while he didn’t have to come to the development camp to begin with due to his status as a professional player with a full season under his belt…
It’s a bummer that he’s not there with his big grin and star power. Zadina is already spending the majority of his summer in North America training with NHL’ers and Red Wings, and he’s a lot like Dylan Larkin in that he’s an absolute rink rat.
#18 Albin Grewe: Grewe got the star treatment as the reporters’ quarry of the day today, and he did not disappoint. Confident and perhaps a wee bit cocky at 18, the 6,’ 187-pound left wing has displayed just a bit of jam and just a bit of snarl during the skill drills. He was absolutely dominant playing “stick tag,” he’s clearly as competitive as all hell get out, and his desire to be both abrasive and to execute at a high level of detail are excellent to see in such a young forward.
#22 Ethan Phillips: Phillips has quite the story, going from Halifax to the Selects Academy to the USHL over the course of the past two years, and the 5’9,” 146-pound forward understands that he has a lot to overcome when he heads to Boston University in terms of his size and strength. Still, he’s a speed merchant.
#42 Mathieu Bizier*: Bizier is floating along with the try-outs thus far, as I said on Tuesday. The 6’1,” 187-pound forward from Gatineau hasn’t stood out in a positive nor a negative light.
#49 Otto Kivenmaki: Among the Wings’ cavalcade of small forwards, Kivenmaki and Berggren are among the best. At 5’8″ and 154 pounds, Kivenmaki faces longer odds than Berggren, but the speedy puck-mover has displayed pluck and skill over the course of two days’ worth of work, and he may very well join Assat’s men’s league team on a full-time basis this season.
#50 Thomas Casey*: Casey, like Phillips, can thank his size for his speed to some extent. He’s 5’8″ and 185 pounds, and the Charlottetown Islanders forward has skated fast and again, fast with the puck on his stick.
#58 Jack Adams: A bit of a sigh here. Adams is massive at 6’5″ and 204 pounds, and he can score goals, work through skill drills with aplomb, and stickhandle superbly for a big man, but sometimes he still looks uncoordinated and slow. Going into his junior year at Union, he needs to find some consistency.
#67 Taro Hirose: Hirose took part in about half of the skill drills before bowing out. When he was taking part in on-ice activities, he looked brisk, crisp and fast, and he was plain old fun to watch, but a day-to-day type injury is hampering the 5’10,” 160-pound mighty mite.
#75 Troy Loggins**: Loggins is a Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted forward, but the 5’9,” 161-pound Northern Michigan graduate is probably going to start his professional season in Toledo, earning playing time with the Walleye. He posted a point per game during his senior collegiate year.
#78 Gregor MacLeod**: Another Griffins contract, the 6,’ 183-pound forward could be a wisely-signed AHL prospect as he played for Joe Veleno’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, posting an 84-points-in-60-games campaign. The Wings brought in Michael Rasmussen’s teammate Jordan Topping from the Tri-City Americans last year, and Topping was at least a useful forward for the ECHL’s Walleye.
#82 Odeen Tufto*: His last name looks Finnish and he’s no bigger than Kivenmaki at 5’8″ and 174 pounds. The 22-year-old forward posted 42 points in 38 games for the Quinnipiac Bobcats, and the Wings are trying to take a Hirose-sized chance on a potential free agent who might self-improve enough to warrant signing a year from now.
#89 Owen Robinson*: At 6′ and 170 pounds, the Sudbury Wolves forward was passed over in both the 2018 and 2019 drafts, and he’s displayed some jam, but has mostly floated along with the try-outs.
#24 Antti Tuomisto: If there is a fault in Tuomisto’s game, it’s that he’s very heavy on his skates at 6’4″ and 194 pounds. He continues to look smooth, poised and polished as he handles the puck out there, but his feet and coordination can get the best of him from time to time. He’s got lots of time to grow into his body at all of 18 years old, and he plays for the same Assat Pori team that employs Otto Kivenmaki.
#26 Marc-Olivier Duquette*: Duquette has acquitted himself pretty well. Another Drummondville alumnus, the 6’4,” 205-pound defender has at least displayed a solid and useful skill set.
#28 Gustav Lindstrom: Lindstrom was the best jumper on Team Lindsay, using his 6’2,” 187-pound frame to leap over and through obstacles both big and small, and Lindstrom’s superb skating was encouraging to see as the Wings worked through coach Broberg’s unconventional drills. The Frolunda Indians defenseman is turning pro, most likely with the Grand Rapids Griffins, this fall, and he possesses real NHL potential.
#86 Seth Barton: Good speed, good puck-lugging. Barton remains hard to pin down, but the 6’3,” 174-pound defenseman skates with poise and resolve. The UMass-Lowell defenseman will head into his sophomore season this fall looking to post more than 10 points in 33 games played.
#87 Charles-Edouard D’Astous**: Of all the try-outs and Griffins contracts, Alex Limoges and D’Astous have impressed me the most. D’Astous captained the Rimouski Oceanic last year, posting 66 points in 55 games, and the 6’2,” 205-pound defenseman has all the skating and puck skills necessary to wrest a spot from one of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ regulars, should his fall play out as his summer is playing out. He’s not physical per se, but he’s big and strong, and he skates excellently well.
#92 Patrick Holway: Again, Holway had to sit out most of the 2018-19 campaign after leaving the University of Maine, and he will transfer to Merrimack as a junior. He’s evidently worked very hard in the gym as the once-gangly Holway stands 6’4″ and 204 pounds of muscle and poise. Holway’s knees still bend out at odd angles, but he’s learned to utilize his frame efficiently and to carry the puck with some poise.
#94 Alec Regula: For the second day in a row, the 6’4,” 203-pound London Knights defenseman did not take part in any drills. He’s got a massive wingspan for a big man and he skates well. I’d like to see what he can do during these wild skating drills.
#97 Gustav Berglund: Berglund, Albert Johansson and Cooper Moore are all cut from the same cloth, not overly big defensemen but very good puck-movers who have more to give as they mature. The 177th overall draft pick stands at 6’2″ and 190 pounds, and the Frolunda Indians Under-18 team defender looks sound and steady as a right shot.
#00 Robbie Beydoun*: Flashy hands! The Michigan Tech sophomore isn’t big at 6′ and 185 pounds–that’s “not big by modern goaltending standards”–but he’s got an excellent blocker and a superb glove hand, and he worked very hard at sliding and skittering across the crease in his butterfly today. He needs to play in more games going forward as he only cracked the net 12 times in 18-19.
#31 Jesper Eliasson: Sometimes “white bread” isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, and the plain-styled Eliasson serves as a proper foil to the dramatic shot-blocking Brattstrom. Eliasson is big at 6’3″ and 209 pounds, and the Vaxjo Lakers goaltender said that he hopes to make the men’s team’s roster this upcoming season. As he transitions to the SHL, his lack of flash or dash may very well make him a harder netminder to read.
#60 Carter Gylander: Gylander is listed on EliteProspects without a team for the 2019-2020 season, and the press corps has yet to interview him, so it remains to be seen where he’ll play for the upcoming year. He may continue with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he’ll look to play more regularly. He’s all arms and legs at 6’5″ and 172 pounds at all of 18 years of age, and there are times when the athletic netminder makes dashing, debonair saves, and there are times when there are holes, too.
#80 Keith Petruzzelli: Petruzzelli faces a pivotal year at Quinnipiac, having lost his starting job both as a freshman and a sophomore, and the 6’6,” 186-pound netminder hasn’t found the kind of success that he so easily displayed at the USHL level in Muskegon. The fundamental skills are still there, but absent the kind of swagger he displayed two prospect camps ago, and some swagger wouldn’t hurt him a bit.
*=Free agent invite **=Grand Rapids Griffins contract
Day 2 is in the books.
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I was asked an intriguing question today: why not just blog as a hobby? The answer is pretty simple–despite the health issues that I and my family have faced over the past couple of years, and living with severe depression and anxiety as daily, chronic illnesses (I do not deal with depression and anxiety selectively; I deal with them every day, sometimes on a moderate-to-severe basis), this is really all I’ve wanted to do, and I have been lucky enough to pursue it mostly “on” for the past 10 years. It hasn’t resulted in any sort of financial windfall, but I have at least been able to support myself for the most part, and I really want to find a way to get this blog to self-sustaining status so that I can invest more in the blog’s content as much as anything else.
I love hockey, I love writing, and I love writing about hockey. I am most definitely getting to the end of my, “I can pursue this indefinitely” years, and have admittedly considered going back to school to get a Master’s or Doctorate, but hockey has become my life over the past decade, and even if the Red Wings never credential me for more than the summer development camp and fall prospect tournament/main camp, I’d like to keep doing this for as long as I can. This is my window out of my depression and anxiety on those hard days that I can get out of bed but not much else, and I think that kind of outlet is worth pursuing on more than a “just a hobby” basis.
There’s your PSA for the day. Tomorrow on TMI with TMR, “Why I love Sifl n Olly.”