On Day 4 of the Red Wings’ summer development camp, the Red Wings’ prospects spent their morning/early afternoon taking part in skating drills, and this evening, the players were able to stretch their competitive legs, taking part in a trio of 3-on-3 games.
Ahead of what will surely be a competitive Red and White Game on Saturday (12 PM start), the players engaged in what was sometimes wild and woolly hockey. Crazy things happened, like Filip Larsson getting lit up for 8 goals and QMJHL try-out Mathieu Bizier scoring a hat trick, and as someone who had to haul ass to a Filip Zadina interview between games, I didn’t get to see all of the consolation or championship games, though I sure tried to soak in as much as I could.
If you missed it, the Wings archived the game on YouTube, so you can watch the stream for yourself and make your own impressions:
MLive’s Ansar Khan also did a fine job of posting a short recap:
Ryan Kuffner scored two goals to snap a tie and lead Team Delvecchio past Team Lidstrom 5-3 in the championship game of the three-on-three tournament Friday at LCA. Taro Hirose, his teammate, also scored twice.
Moritz Seider, the sixth overall pick this year, scored for Team Lindsay.
Mathieu Bizier, a free-agent invitee, recorded a hat trick in Team Howe’s 4-2 victory over Team Lindsay in the consolation game.
Jack Adams, a sixth-round pick in 2017, scored two goals in addition to the shootout winner in Team Delvecchio’s 5-4 victory over Team Howe in a semifinal. Joe Veleno, the 30th overall pick in 2018, scored two goals as well as a nifty shootout goal in which he used the move made famous by Peter Forsberg for Sweden in the Olympics.
Chase Pearson (fifth round in 2015) and Kasper Kotkansalo (third round in 2017) each picked up two goals and an assist in Team Lidstrom’s 8-4 victory over Team Lindsay in the other semifinal.
Please remember that this was a game played on June 28th, 2019, and between the fact that the Red and White Game will have more structure and the fact that the prospect tournament is in September, I would ask you to not award contracts to these players in your head based upon one Friday night.
That being said?
Yes, coach Blashill and his lieutenants watched the game, as did the player development staff, the goalie coaches, several scouts, assistant GM’s Pat Verbeek and Ryan Martin, and some guy in glasses who is not large but definitely in charge.
Here’s one man’s viewing of the players taking part in the game, on a team-by-team basis, and I’m going to go a little “casual” given that I got up at 8 to be at the rink at 9 and stayed at the rink till 9, and have to get back up at 9 to be at the rink at 11 (i.e. I’ve got one more long day left in what’s been a long week):
#57 Jonatan Berggren: The little bugger can be dynamic when he’s got the time and space he needs to make plays. Berggren made some absolutely beautiful plays in traffic and down low despite his listed 5’10,” 181-pound size (subtract an inch and ten or fifteen pounds and we’re probably hitting accurate territory, and he’s never going to really get bigger than that). He passes. He transports the puck with speed. He made a deke-and-dangle and almost took himself out of the game by crashing shoulder-first into the end boards (i.e. he is still young). The 2018 draft pick is all of 19 and is going to try to crack Skelleftea’s men’s team on a full-time basis, which is where his development should be headed right now, but there were times that he was the most skilled player on his team by a fair to far margin, and at 19 and small, that’s encouraging.
#75 Troy Loggins: This needs to be said now:
Nobody had a hard time keeping up during the 3-on-3 tournament. Not a Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted, ECHL-bound player like Loggins, not the try-outs, not the Europeans, the Canadian Hockey League guys, the NCAA’ers, nobody. Everybody made some plays that looked really good and everybody had a head-turning shift or two. We are at a point where the level of skill among the try-outs that I describe as “bobbing along on the current” is near-elite, and the line between, “He’s really good” and, “Shit, man, he’s an NHL scorer” is going to get thinner as we keep going.
All of that being said, Loggins, who posted 40 points in 39 games with Northern Michigan this past season, is a 5’9,” 161-pound forward who is 23 going on 24, and there were points that he was fleet-footed and strong in the playmaking sense of the term, but he did not stand out to me in a way that made me feel he’s going to be an AHL or NHL threat in the fall, especially given how stacked the Griffins are going to be.
#79 Samuel Bucek: What a frustrating player! The free agent try-out scored 30 goals and posted 51 points over the course of 53 Slovak league games, and he’s earned a contract with the not-crazy KooKoo of the Finnish League this upcoming season. The 20-year-old forward had some moments where he really did flash excellent goal-scoring ability, and deke, dangle and score, he can. At 6’3″ and 192 pounds, he laid out a nasty check or two, too. But he’s just not consistent in the application of his physical gifts, and the disparate parts of his game hang out like sharp edges.
#81 Alex Limoges: Another try-out, I have admittedly been a bit taken with the 6’1,” 201-pound center from Penn State, and nothing he did on Friday caused me to alter my “take.” At 20, going into his junior season, Limoges posted 50 points in 39 games played this past NCAA season. He can shoot, he can pass, he can skate, he can make plays, he can snipe, and in the moments where the traffic gets heavy or the defensemen are 3 or 4 inches and 10 or 20 pounds bigger, he can get through said traffic. He could be a Taro Hirose-style signing a year from now, when he’s a little more ready to turn pro and there is more room for him. Keep him in mind!
#85 Elmer Soderblom: There is a long way to go and a lot of things that could happen to derail the 2019 draft pick, but the Frolunda Indians forward is a still-gangly 6’7,” 220-pound beast of a man, and he does not have the kind of coordination issues that 99% of the players of his size have. The dude is smooth, man, and he skates well, he handles the puck with aplomb and there are moments that he crunches a guy in a 3-on-3 game and you go *squee* like @helmerroids on Twitter can go *squee* about Dylan Larkin and lose not a gram of her gravitas as a hockey fan. Soderblom has a crap-ton of work to do to turn pro and become an NHL player, but we finally have a big man who likes being a big man, with all his arms and legs moving the same way, at 18.
#88 Chad Yetman: Yetman and Loggins were the beneficiaries of playing with Berggren and Limoges at times. I liked Yetman’s speed and jam, and as he’s a Canadian Hockey League (OHL, Erie Otters) forward who posted 57 points in 68 games this past season, the 19-year-old is probably coming back for the fall prospect tournament. At 5’11” and 176 pounds, however, Yetman joins a bunch of “small forwards” vying to become the Red Wings’ next “small forward” signing, and the Wings just drafted a bunch of small forwards that are going to be Wings until the end of college.
#24 Antti Tuomisto: There’s some good news and some bad news here. The bad news is that, at 18, Tuomisto can occasionally make a bad decision and get walked around because he really is big and heavy at 6’4″ and 194 pounds, and he really does have heavy feet syndrome (I did not measure them). But Tuomisto, who played this past season for Assat Pori’s junior team (and the “Aces” are a very good organization), posting 35 points in 45 games against Under-18 players…Looked like a really solid 2nd pair defenseman with a fair amount of offensive aplomb on Friday. Tuomisto can head-man the puck or make plays quite well, he’s got a shot on him and for a European, he has a relatively advanced level of understanding that being 6’4″ and 194 pounds means that he can hit people and make them stop doing things like skating the puck around him. There are a lot of tools here, a good amount of savvy, and lots of time to grow and work on those heavy skates.
Speaking of skates, I watched Grand Rapids Griffins trainer Brad “Dogg” Thompson work on a set of skates after the game, and the man is an artist on the Blademaster machine.
#28 Gustav Lindstrom: Gustav had some really fantastic moments and some really shaky ones, so it was hard to get a good read on his energy level, and that is my one concern about the 20-year-old defenseman as he turns North American Pro, presumably with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The 6’2,” 187-pound Lindstrom did not have a great season with Frolunda in terms of points, but there were moments when Lindstrom was the best offensive player on Team Lindsay, and he knew enough to get away with some rather dashing down-low plays where Lindstrom led the forecheck. As a result, there were times that he was tardy getting back to his post, but it didn’t really burn him too badly…
And Gustav knows how to pass, make plays, lug the puck up ice himself, avoid traffic while doing so, and sometimes skate through guys en route to unleashing a heavy shot. The right-shooting defenseman was in and out of traffic and in and out of the offensive flow of things, and he didn’t look out of his element physically despite not being a physical defenseman. I just didn’t like the fact that there were highs and lows of energy, and maybe that was the day. He’ll have the rest of the summer, the prospect tournament and main training camp to sort out the kinks.
#96 Cooper Moore: I feel a little better about the fact that the Red Wings drafted Moore, a 6’1,” 181-pound defender coming out of Connecticut high school hockey with their 128th overall pick this past weekend in Vancouver. I think I’ve said before that I see a bit of Albert Johansson genes in him in that he’s a wide-bodied puck carrier who lugs the puck up ice with speed and poise. He’s taking a long developmental route in heading to the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs before going to North Dakota in 20-21, and there’s a lot of room for improvement on a somewhat blank canvas here.
#98 Owen Lalonde: Another try-out who’s probably coming back for the prospect tournament, the Guelph Storm defenseman displayed good skill during Friday’s game. The 6’1,” 185-pound, right-shooting defenseman posted 41 points in 68 games this past season, which is anything but shabby, and the 19-year-old displayed some good skating skills and he held onto the puck long enough and with enough confidence that he faked guys out.
#38 Filip Larsson: The 21-year-old Larsson, turning pro after a winding developmental path that went through Djurgardens IF, Tri-City of the USHL and the University of Denver, as well as two major groin injuries and one groin surgery, experienced all the ups and downs that one could expect to experience on Friday.
In one game, the 6’2,” 187-pound Swede got lit up, surrendering 8 goals against, and in the second game, he was excellent but gave up 4, including a hat trick to the notable Mathieu Bizier (notable for not being notable). He really didn’t have much of a defense in front of him at times as that’s 3-on-3 hockey for you, but after posting a 13-6-and-3 record and a .932 save percentage in 22 games played, he was…south of that.
I will vouch for Larsson having a bad night as your resident goaltender-and-crease-pest-turned-blogger. Larsson has all the tools to succeed professionally thanks to a good positional game, lateral mobility, astute glove, blocker and stick skills, as well as active toes, but the fact that Larsson sometimes reaches for pucks instead of arriving to make less flashy saves yields some stinkers against. It’s a matter of playing within his skill set and anticipating more.
#18 Albin Grewe: Albin is all of a week from being drafted and needs to get bigger and stronger, but the 6,’ 187-pound Djurgardens IF forward will be “groovy” if he gets into a “groove.” Playing among his peers, Grewe posted 34 points in 25 Under-18-league games, and during the 3-on-3 tournament, Grewe looked like someone who’d played at a much higher level against much better-quality opponents. He’s definitely agitating, and there is no doubt that he’ll throw some harder and more dramatic checks than the subtle jabs, whacks and hacks he issued at times on Friday, but Grewe’s bread and butter may very well depend upon his offensive skills.
He can shoot hard and shoot quickly, he sees the ice fairly well and makes good passes, and he skates quite well while playing with a near-professional pace (pace is important). That, and he’s going to be good at pissing people off.
#44 Ryan O’Reilly: O’Reilly did pretty much what I expected him to do on Friday night. He displayed a goal-scorer’s panache and jam, he nearly scored fairly regularly on a shift-by-shift basis, he hauled ass up ice and transported the puck quite well as his 6’2,” 201-pound frame is hard to knock off the puck. In terms of his passing, his defensive abilities, his attention to detail and the rest of his game are concerned, the returning-to-the-USHL-at-19 forward has some work to do. Thankfully, O’Reilly is a goal-scorer who knows that he’s got a lot of work to do, and man, can he generate scoring chances.
#46 Chase Pearson: Pearson is turning pro at 21 years of age, and the out-going University of Maine co-captain played like someone ready for a man’s league this upcoming season, regardless of whether the 6’2,” 200-pound puck-lugging forward begins in the AHL or ECHL. Pearson scored a couple of goals for Team Lidstrom, which is impressive, but his attention to detail in terms of things like faceoffs, checking, knowing “when to go” and shadowing opponents both with and without the puck were the things that turned my head in a positive fashion. Pearson is frickin’ mature, and I’m rooting for him to become a strong 3rd or 4th line center the way that I’m rooting for Dominic Turgeon (who does not possess Pearson’s wheels, but owns the same work ethic). Pearson is easy to root for.
#49 Otto Kivenmaki: If Elmer Soderblom is an exciting prospect because he is utterly at ease with being big, Otto Kivenmaki is an exciting prospect because the 5’8,” 154-pound Kivenmaki is utterly at ease with being small. Kivenmaki reminds me of Taro Hirose when he’s really on his game–speedy enough to get past people despite not possessing top-end speed, brash enough to get through people who are over half-a-foot taller because he wants the puck more, and skilled enough in terms of the all-round skill set in terms of passing, shooting, playmaking and sometimes even forechecking that the water bug on skates gets his ass moving and, a lot like Jonatan Berggren, manages to maneuver his body into spots where men with smaller souls fear to tread. He’s going to try to crack Assat Pori’s men’s team roster at 19.
#82 Odeen Tufto: The 22-year-old Tufto, a free agent try-out, comes highly-regarded out of Quinnipiac of Hockey East, where the 5’8,” 174-pound forward posted 42 points in 38 sophomore year games, but I’m a little puzzled as to where he fits. Another small forward, Tufto is downright speedy, able to blaze up the wing with his right shot and transport the puck with authority, but I have yet to see the kind of scoring and playmaking prowess that he displays at the NCAA level. He was frickin’ fast. Otherwise? Not so sure.
#53 Moritz Seider: Okay, so Red Wings Twitter/FB/Reddit/whatever else had something of a fit of excitement on Friday night because Seider looked so damn good during the 3-on-3 tournament.
It is my job to pour water on the hot-running engine of Red Wings fandom from time to time. I am normally your guy there. On Friday night, which is turning into Saturday morning…
There were a couple of times that Seider got “walked around,” which isn’t great. There were times that he certainly looked 6’4″ and 207 pounds, but got pushed around from time to time on what is certainly going to be a bigger, stronger frame. There were times that he took risks that you don’t want an 18-year-old to think that they can get away with, and there were times that the North American ice and North American pace caught him by surprise.
But Mr. Seiderplan spent most of Friday night looking damn fine out there, and plain old like a player who played with professional athletes in his draft season as an alumnus of Adler Mannheim of the DEL. Seider has professional polish at 18, and that’s a wonderful thing to see. His offensive instincts are evident–his vision, passing, playmaking and shooting are all superb, his positioning both offensively and defensively are good, as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa wondered about, he “gaps up” well defensively and Seider has really raised my expectations for him because he is so completely at ease.
Like Soderblom or Kivenmaki, what surprises you is that there’s no panic in an 18-year-old’s game, and while Seider may ultimately pan out as a shut-down, second-pair defenseman, there is more offense there and there is real PP QB’s skating potential. I love his lateral mobility as well, and as I said, this was his first real “game” on North American ice, but he didn’t look put off by the angles or the speed at which his opponents came at him.
Still just 18. Still a lot of room for improvement, and still a long and winding road to the NHL. But Steve Yzerman is a lot of things, and he’s no fool.
#63 Alec McCrea: The Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted McCrea, standing 6’3″ and 212 pounds and a mature 24 years of age, is likely headed to the ECHL to begin his professional campaign with the Toledo Walleye, who are no team to sneeze at. McCrea plays a steady, safe and simple stay-at-home game, and he did flash a couple of “hands” moves at times as a 3-on-3 tournament forces you to play at, as I like to say in skating drills, the “extent of your reach.” Mostly, McCrea defended.
#84 Kasper Kotkansalo: Admittedly a TMR favorite, I was very happy to see the 21-year-old defenseman flash some offensive chops during the 3-on-3 games. Kotkansalo really is working on his skating, which yielded far fewer instances in which he found himself chasing the puck, and I continue to want to compare him directly to Kyle Quincey because Kotkansalo at his best yields a 6’2,” 196-pound Boston University defenseman who owns a man’s body and a mature game–and he’s mature enough to understand that while Kotkansalo can shoot and pass well enough to more than “keep up,” he’s gonna earn his keep playing simple, safe and steady–and physically, too. He tried to schmear a couple of guys on Friday, and he’s got to do more of that as the affable Finn attempts to crack BU’s top four. His path is uphill, but he understands that, and he is easy to root for.
#87 Charles-Edouard D’Astous: I think the Red Wings may have a sleeper in this one. The Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted D’Astous may end up starting his season in the ECHL, not the AHL, but the 6’2,” 205-pound graduate of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic posted 66 points in 55 games this past season, and he is smooth, very smooth.
D’Astous skates superbly and integrates strong passing, playmaking, vision and a good shot with positional aplomb. When he’s on, the elements of his game are seamlessly crafted into a borderline elegant package, and though he’s a little older at 21, D’Astous dominated among his peers and juniors wearing the “C” in the “Q.”
There is potential for growth here, and at a near-no-risk AHL price.
#34 Victor Brattstrom: Brattstrom did the things I hoped he would on Friday. At a massive 6’5″ and lanky 198 pounds, the Timra IK netminder played with Swedish League patience and poise, he was not deterred by the North American rink’s 85-foot-wide surface (as opposed to the 100-foot-wide international rink) or pace of play, and he blocked pucks into lower-danger areas with that Jonas Gustavsson-style game, he utilized his glove and blocker to snag pucks out of the air, and his rebounds were better than I thought they’d be. A 2018 draft pick, Brattstrom is a little older (like D’Astous) at 22 years of age, but he’s a really good SHL season away from being a big part of the Wings’ goaltending picture.
#60 Carter Gylander: Gylander is at the start of his developmental journey at 18 and a couple of weeks old, and a week after the Red Wings drafted him, the 6’5,” 172-pound Gylander looked pretty good in his first real competitive action against players who are going to crack the ECHL, AHL and even NHL this upcoming season. All arms, legs and torso, Gylander is going to need time to stop reaching for pucks because he is so very big and letting more pucks “get in his belly” due to anticipation and positioning, but the Sherwood Park Crusaders netminder (that’s the Alberta Junior Hockey League for you) has a lot more potential than his 191st overall pick status would suggest.
#22 Ethan Phillips: Ethan Phillips spent Friday making me feel a lot better about the idea of the Red Wings drafting a 5’9,” 146-pound forward with their 97th overall pick in the 2019 draft. He’s essentially a right-handed version of Otto Kivenmaki, give or take a dozen pounds. Phillips is fleet-footed and transports the puck superbly well up and down the ice. Coming off a USHL season in which he posted 43 points in 50 games, heading to Boston University this fall, I can see the playmaking abilities that gave the Wings enough of a pause to draft yet another small forward, and I see the desire necessary to be a small forward.
#42 Mathieu Bizier: Virginia, Santa Claus is more about a philosophy of being than an actual human being, and Wings fans, Mathieu Bizier probably scored the most timely hat trick of his life on Friday. A free agent invite, the 6’1,” 187-pound forward from the Gatineau Olympiques posted 39 points in 68 games in his draft year, but he was passed over. Clearly, he possesses scoring ability, and yes, he is talented, but I’ve seen more of a complementary forward out of him over the course of four days than I’ve seen star in the making. He’ll probably be back for the fall prospect tournament, and there he will have the chance to prove me wrong.
I hope he does. I don’t think it’s gonna happen, but it’s a “better story” and better for the Red Wings if Mathieu Bizier’s June hat trick is a portent of things to come.
#50 Thomas Casey: At 5’8″ and 185 pounds, the Charlottetown Islanders free agent invite is 19, posted 34 points in 54 games, and he looked a lot like Ethan Phillips–a strong puck-lugger with a lot of speed–but I did not see anything else to differentiate Casey from the pack of small forwards. He’ll probably be back in the fall.
#76 Jarid Lukosevicius: Inked to a Grand Rapids Griffins contract, the 5’10,” 185-pound forward posted 29 points in 40 games played for the University of Denver this past season, and there were times that the right-shooting right wing really displayed the kind of maturity to his game that you expect out of a 24-year-old, turning-pro forward. That meant that he was often a step or play ahead of his younger teammates, and on occasion, he victimized opponents with his speed. That’s what I observed.
#78 Gregor MacLeod: The Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted MacLeod stands a capable 6′ and 183 pounds, and the Drummondville Voltigeurs graduate posted 84 points in 60 QMJHL games this past season, but have yet to see a D’Astous-like package of skills emerge from the otherwise capable forward. MacLeod is 21 and, when paired with Joe Veleno or Ethan Phillips, all of Bizier, Lukosevicius and MacLeod looked capable, but that’s where the comparisons ended.
#90 Joe Veleno: I am pretty sure that Veleno didn’t play in part of the consolation game, because Team Howe was visibly better by a long couple of strides when Veleno was playing. He’s not overly big at 6’1″ and 191 pounds, but Veleno, who posted 104 points in 59 games this past QMJHL season with Drummondville (where he captained the Voltigeurs), was nothing less than elite. At 19, and turning pro like so many of his teammates, Veleno seems destined to play as a strong second-line center, though I believe that his defensive and shut-down chops are underrated. He skates excellently well, his playmaking vision literally and figuratively separates him from his opponents, his shot is great and his hockey IQ is at a Seider-or-Hirose-like level (i.e. among the best of any player out there). He’s just mature for his age and mature for his skill set.
#26 Marc-Olivier Duquette: Duquette was invited as a free agent because he’s 6’4,” 205 pounds, and posted 24 points in 50 games with Joe Veleno’s Voltigeurs. On Friday, Duquette was actually pretty impressive, flashing offensive chops that I did not expect to see out of the four days of “watching” that I’ve clocked. Duquette was the beneficiary of playing on Veleno’s team, no doubt, but on a roster where the defense was not full of game-breakers, Duquette stepped up and stepped into a necessary role, and while he is not elite, it’s been encouraging to see Duquette step up in both the skating drills on Friday and then the 3-on-3 games.
#86 Seth Barton: The Red Wings have several prospects who puzzle me, and Seth Barton, big at 6’3″ but very lanky at 174 pounds, is one of them. Over the course of his freshman season with UMass-Lowell, he posted 10 points in 33 games, and there is certainly skating ability there in the puck-lugging defenseman, as well as passing and playmaking skill, but the 2018 draft pick is still arms and legs to some extent.
#95 Albert Johansson: A week after Hakan Andersson declared that Johansson may be the best of the Wings’ defensemen drafted on the second day of the 2019 draft, I’m not sure if Andersson’s right, but there are at least glimmers of skill emerging from former Calgary Flames defenseman Roger Johansson’s son. The 6,’ 168-pound Johansson is anything but big by this NHL’s standards, and there are times that his skating plain old looks under-powered because the Farjestads BK junior league defenseman is 18, but that pro’s word–pace–is evident in an otherwise raw set of passing, shooting and skating skills.
#80 Keith Petruzzelli: Petruzzelli frustrates me from an observer-that-has-a-rooting-interest perspective. Massive at 6’6″ and lanky at 185 pounds, Petruzzelli had a relatively strong set of performances in the net for Team Howe, but there are still some holes to be found in the skinny giant’s stance, and like a lot of big goalies, he can be deked or faked into dropping down to his knees by default and beat high. He’s got a good glove hand and a good blocker, and he’s certainly big enough to be absorbing more pucks than those that sneak through, but at 20 years of age, he’s halfway through his NCAA career and he has yet to keep–not earn, but keep–a starter’s job. Andrew Shortridge snagged the starter’s spot from Petruzzelli in both 17-18 and 18-19, and while Shortridge has graduated, Petruzzelli’s not guaranteed the lion’s share of Quinnipiac’s starts yet. He faces some obstacles yet.
#14 Robert Mastrosimone: Standing 5’10” and 170 pounds, the Red Wings picked Mastrosimone with the 54th overall pick this past weekend, and he, like fellow mighty mite Ethan Phillips, is heading to Boston University in the fall. Mastrosimone had an excellent USHL season, posting 60 points in 54 games with the Chicago Steel. He’s a puck-lugger, too, carrying the puck up ice with speed and urgency. He has some grit to him despite his size, too, jamming and grinding in puck battles. There’s potential there, but he’s in the pipeline of small forwards, which is getting crowded.
#56 Ryan Kuffner: Kuffner turned 23 earlier this month, and the free agent signing from Princeton is a bubbling fountain of enthusiasm and energy, and he’s bigger and stronger than his 6’1,” 195-pound frame might suggest in “today’s NHL.” Kuffner went scoreless in 10 NHL games for the Wings, but that was following a 44-point-in-31-games campaign for his NCAA team. Heading to the AHL (most likely) to start the 19-20 campaign, Kuffner has looked like a man among boys while displaying strong scoring, passing and especially skating chops. He’s no Taro Hirose, but he’s bigger, stockier, and possibly slated to play a more two-way role, though this week’s showing would suggest that there’s more to be had offensively, maybe in a situational basis.
#58 Jack Adams: Adams stands at 6’5″ and 204 pounds, and the Union College junior did everything he could have possibly hoped to accomplish on Friday. The 21-year-old scored goals with a hard, accurate wrist shot, he transported the puck up ice with more speed than a man his size usually possesses, he was physical and sometimes intentionally nasty, and he maximized his frame, making large players look like small opponents and small opponents occasionally look insignificant as he bulldozed his way to the net. Adams has yet to hit his NCAA stride, but the 2017 pick looks ready to grab the developmental bull by the horns.
#62 Cody Morgan: The Wings invited the 5’11,” 183-pound Flint Firebirds forward to camp after a 39-points-in-63-games campaign because of his skating and jam, and skating speed and jam, he possesses. He actually posted 30 points in 30 games with Flint after a trade from Windsor, and the Wings clearly saw Morgan’s late-season flourish as a sign of things to come. Passed over in the 2019 draft, he’ll likely return for the fall prospect tournament hoping to build upon this summer’s lessons.
#67 Taro Hirose: Hirose and Veleno are the top of the heap in terms of forwards, especially with Filip Zadina absent, and all of 10 games into his NHL career, the Michigan State University alumnus is proof that the little guys can succeed. At 5’10” and 160 pounds, Hirose is stocky but speedy, plain old sneaky and able to anticipate offensive plays before doling out excellent passes (he posted 35 assists in 36 games with MSU this past season, as part of a 50-point, Hobey Baker Award-finalist’s campaign) and making smart plays. He works his ass off, and he can hit the back of the net, too.
Hirose keeps on mentioning Johnny Gaudreau as a role model because that is Hirose’s if-he-breaks-through-the-ceiling upside.
Is Taro Hirose the next Johnny Gaudreau? Virginia, Santa Claus is more about a philosophy than a guy named Phil who grows a natural Santa beard and works at the mall…and Hirose is probably not the next Johnny Gaudreau, but I do not doubt his resolve, nor his skill set.
#89 Owen Robinson: A free agent invite out of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, the 6,’ 170-pound Robinson posted 41 points in 61 games, mostly in the form of assists, and Robinson can indeed pass with poise and pace. He’s speedy, too.
#73 Malte Setkov: Setkov didn’t solve his puzzling picture on Friday evening. Gigantic at 6’6″ and skinny at 192 pounds, Setkov skates like a forward, and sometimes he thinks he’s a forward. Maybe he is a forward? The massive defenseman is an excellent puck-mover and playmaker who can lug the puck up ice at a professional pace (there’s that word again), his gap control is pretty good and his reach can allow him to defend with ease. He has some trouble with the North American rink’s width, and with North American forwards’ strength, too, and that’s an issue.
But he remains one of those intriguing players because there are dashes, rushes, and flourishes of skill that tantalize, and there are moments that he is so at ease with his frame that he makes big, strong players look small and weak (a la Jack Adams). He just doesn’t put his skill set and natural gifts together over the course of entire games yet, and that’s why he’s a 20-year-old Allsvenskan veteran who still needs to crack the Malmo Redhawks men’s team to move forward.
#92 Patrick Holway: Holway took the kinds of risks that someone who hasn’t played many competitive games over the course of a sit-out, transfer season tends to make (lots of risks) and he made some mistakes from time to time trying to play a little beyond the envelope of his skill set, but the 6’4,” 204-pound defenseman will join the Merrimack Warriors as a 22-year-old junior who’s finally gotten his arms and legs in order. Holway once nearly tripped over his lanky frame, but these days, he moves smoothly and fluidly up and down the ice. He’s in a similar situation to Kotkansalo in that he’s able to make offensive plays and accentuate his hard-hitting game with passes and shots that find their mark, but he’s going to earn money playing stay-at-home defense.
#97 Gustav Berglund: The Red Wings drafted the 6’2,” 194-pound defenseman with the 177th overall draft pick last Saturday in Vancouver, and they did so in no small part because he posted 29 points in 28 Under-18 league games with Frolunda. That’s rare for an 18-year-old defenseman who’s got size and reach, but I see more raw skill than I see of any particular skill in his game thus far, and I see what is essentially a blank canvas with a lot of room for painting as the right-handed defender goes forward.
#31 Jesper Eliasson: I hope that those of you who tuned in for the game saw in Eliasson what I continue to see in the 6’3,” 209-pound goalie from the Vaxjo Lakers’ Under-20 team–a simple, no-frills goalie who plays a simple, no-frills style that happens to be simply effective. Eliasson has yet to crack the his SHL team’s roster, but at all of 19, the massive goaltender utilizes strong butterfly fundamentals and anticipation over reflexes and reaching (though he can use those skills, too). Eliasson can block shots and play Brattstrom-style stand-there-and-hope-it-hits-you-which-it-probably-will-because-you’re-big goaltending, but Eliasson is so very bland because he’s making a lot of belly stops and making glove saves and blocker jabs look routine. I hope that he continues playing bland goaltending, because there are times that the “ugly goalie” is the most effective netminder.
This entry, along with my earlier impressions from the fourth day of development camp, wrap up day 4.
The Red and White Game looms on Saturday at 12 PM, and I’m sure the Wings will stream it in addition to welcoming fans to Little Caesars Arena to take in the tilt.
If you are still reading this, it’s 3:05 AM as I finish this entry, and I started writing at 11 hoping to be done in 60-90 minutes, but my fingers kept writing.
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