Impressions from the Red Wings prospects’ 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the prospect tournament ’18

The Detroit Red Wings’ prospects bounced back from Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild in a big way, defeating the Dallas Stars’ prospects 3-1 on Saturday night at Centre ICE Arena.

The Wings played swifter, sharper and simpler hockey on Saturday night, displaying much more cohesion and excellent attention to detail in all three zones, to the point that they played the kind of game that coach Jeff Blashill would admire for its “process” hockey.

Michael Rasmussen scored two goals, one an empty-netter; Dennis Cholowski also scored and had an assist, Joe Veleno, Filip Zadina and Reilly Webb had assists, and Kaden Fulcher stopped 16 of 17 shots in goal, as MLive’s Ansar Khan noted in his recap:

Michael Rasmussen scored two goals and picked up an assist Saturday to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars at the NHL Prospects Tournament at Centre I.C.E. in Traverse City.

Dennis Cholowski contributed a goal and an assist. Kaden Fulcher had a strong game in goal.

The Red Wings are Stars are both 1-1. Detroit wraps up round-robin play Monday against the New York Rangers (4 p.m., streamed on and Fox Sports Go).

Rasmussen (16:40 of the first) and Cholowski (19:08 of the second) scored power-play goals to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. Rasmussen sealed the victory by scoring into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining in the third period.

The box score is also available here, as are player stats, on, where you can follow the tournament statistically.

I posted several audio clips after the game, and the Wings posted some video interviews with Cholowski, Rasmussen, Fulcher and coach Ben Simon:

Among’s Arthur J. Regner and Dana Wakiji’s “trending” recap’s takes:

Kaden Fulcher: Sometimes it’s easier for a goaltender to face a lot of shots than to have to sit there and wait for the puck. But after what they felt was a less than exemplary defensive effort in Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Wings put forth a stronger effort. That effort resulted in the Stars getting just two shots in the second period, the first of those coming with 4:50 remaining in the period. But Fulcher, making his first start of the tournament, did not let it faze him. Fulcher had to make some big saves early in the game when the Stars came out flying and again late in the third when they were trying to tie the game. The only goal Fulcher allowed was a backhand shot from Tony Calderone at 8:00 of the third after a Detroit turnover. Fulcher finished with 16 saves and earned the Wings’ first win of the tournament.

Quotable: “I think the toes definitely got a little cold there but I think it’s just always making sure to keep track of the puck and always just kind of tracking it and making sure you’re mentally prepared for it and taking it to that next level.” — Fulcher

Quotable II: “I thought he played very well. He’s got confidence coming from the season he just had and I thought we did a better job defensively, allowing him to see shots. At times he was fighting through a lot of screens. I thought he did a good job controlling his rebounds. There wasn’t a lot of second chances. I thought he stepped up and played very well.” — Simon

In terms of player impressions, following the Wings’ lineup utilized for most of the game, here are my thoughts regarding the Wings’ individual performances:


27 Michael Rasmussen “A”–90 Joe Veleno–11 Filip Zadina

27 Michael Rasmussen: Rasmussen sits tied in scoring with 3 points after 2 games–2 goals and an assist–and the 6’6,” 221-pound center-turned-wing is somewhat freed up from his studious nature in terms of playing as a two-way center, a lot like the way that Valtteri Filppula was a better offensive player on the wing than at center…

But Filppula was not 6’6,” and Filppula did not and does not possess the kind of goal-scoring talents that Rasmussen does when he is free to attack the front of the net and stay there. Rasmussen plays a superb down-low game, ragging the puck around and behind the net, and when he gets to the front of the crease, he’s hard to move and hard to see past. To some extent, his abilities around the front of the net and his versatility make him the Wings’ most NHL-ready forward prospect, even over Filip Zadina, because Rasmussen could be plugged into any line while playing a well-rounded, mature game…

And at the prospect tournament, Rasmussen is a men among men, in terms of both his physicality and his level of play. He’s been baited, hacked, whacked, chatted up and cajoled by his opponents, but the even-tempered Rasmussen stays with it and draws power plays. That’s been really good to see.

90 Joe Veleno: Veleno had an assist on Saturday, and he’s posted 3 assists over the course of 2 games, playing a strong, steady two-way game that is surprisingly mature given that the 6’1,” 191-pound Veleno is both 18 and still growing into his body and still growing as a player as well. Veleno is an excellent center who wins draws, sees the ice well enough to set up teammates for scoring chances via his strong passing, and he possesses an underrated shot in addition to good skating and checking habits.

Thus far, for Veleno, I don’t know whether we’re looking at a stalwart #3 center in the making or a stalwart #2 center in the making, but the emphasis is on ultra-reliability at a professional level of play.

11 Filip Zadina: Filip has had his ups and downs, and it could be argued that it’s better for the 6,’ 196-pound winger to get too cute and too fancy now to get that stuff out of his system before training camp and the exhibition season…

At the same time, however, Zadina is a bit of a “wild horse” there, and you don’t want to screw around with the creative instincts of such an incredibly talented player.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Zadina will score at least 15 goals a season at the NHL level, maybe more, maybe a lot more, but what he is right now is a 1G-1A-producing forward who is trying too hard to make a complicated play when a simple one would do, and because his creativity can lead to rushes against, I would not be surprised if Filip starts the year in Grand Rapids, generates some goal-scoring confidence as he learns to simplify his attack, and graduates to the Wings for good in the new year, a la Anthony Mantha.

In any case, Filip is a ridiculously-talented goal-scoring forward who is the Wings’ most skilled prospect, and he will overcome his youthful tendency to over-complicate things.

49 Axel Holmstrom–70 Christoffer Ehn–48 Givani Smith

49 Axel Holmstrom: I’ve been really impressed with “Homer’s” steadiness over the course of two games. Still gaining back the stride that multiple knee injuries cost him, the 6’1,” 219-pound 22-year-old seems to fit a sort of Dominic Turgeon-like mold. Holmstrom seems destined to carve out a 2nd or 3rd line role as a reliable winger who can be counted to make two-way plays, and there are hints of the kind of net-front presence that Rasmussen possesses, albeit not with Rasmussen’s physical gifts. Holmstrom is a work in progress, and this season, he needs to carve out a regular role in the AHL. Where he’ll be when he’s 23 or 24 and what his ultimate upside is remain to be seen.

70 Christoffer Ehn: I could say many of the same things for Ehn, who’s sort of a poor man’s Joe Veleno. The 6’2,” 193-pound Frolunda Indians graduate is utterly dependable defensively; he wins draws, despite being a little undersized and still growing into his body strength-wise, he’s a tough competitor, he checks hard, he clears shooting lanes of offensive threats and he’s got a streak of offense to him. He’ll need to grab onto and hold an AHL spot and improve from there.

48 Givani Smith: Smith is almost certain to become the kind of 3rd or 4th-line winger that other teams absolutely despise. The 6’2,” 206-pound forward is agitating, gritty, sometimes mean, and he’s still finding his defensively-reliable, offensively-adept and always gritty, high-energy form on a more and more consistent basis. Smith is no Sean Avery, but he does a sound job of pissing off opponents on an every-shift basis, and when he really gets his confidence going at the pro level, he’s going to be a serious pain in the ass. Think Kirk Maltby, except with more speed.

53 Jordan Topping*–67 Brady Gilmour–58 David Pope

53 Jordan Topping: To his credit, the Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted winger has played good defensive hockey and has displayed physical and mental maturity in a 6’1,” 185-pound frame. Turning pro after playing his major junior hockey in Tri-City of the WHL (Rasmussen’s team), Topping has looked older than 21 in terms of his grit, jam and ability to grind, and he skates well, too.

67 Brady Gilmour: Gilmour “promoted” to third-line center’s duties on Saturday, and he delivered the goods. Small at 5’10” and 170 pounds, Gilmour still gives no quarter to anyone, and the speedy bug does a great job of checking, checking and using his speed to check some more, winning faceoffs, blocking shots and shutting down his opponents on the PK.

In Gilmour and Gallant, I can say that I’m very confident that the Wings will find some strong fourth-line performers over the course of the next couple of years.

58 David Pope: Pope, despite being 23 going on 24 years of age, has some things to learn regarding playing at a professional level, and the 6’3,” 198-pound winger has run smack dab into the kind of checking and the kind of size and strength of opposing players that he never had to deal with in college.

The result is a little underwhelming in terms of Pope’s productivity, but, as is the case with Zadina, now is the time for the offensively-heralded Pope to endure a little culture shock for the sake of long-term gains. Because of his age, Pope is on a short developmental curve, but once he gets to Grand Rapids, he’s going to figure things out in short order, and he remains one of the Red Wings’ stronger offensive prospects because his shooting, passing, skating, playmaking and scoring-chance-generating abilities are excellent.

64 Zach Gallant–81 Trevor Yates*–76 Nicholas Guay**

64 Zach Gallant: Gallant had another strong checking effort as the Wings went a little “older” on Saturday, and the 6’2,” 198-pound Peterborough Petes center slid comfortably onto the wing and just worked his ass off, helping the Wings’ fourth line limit the Stars’ chances to a bare minimum. Gallant is more likely than Gilmour to pan out simply because he’s bigger, and both are going into their “contract years” of major junior. I hope that both find success.

81 Trevor Yates: Yates, a Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted forward, was brought into the lineup for the sake of going a little older and a little more mature, and the 4-year graduate of Cornell played very, very well. At 6’2″ and 203 pounds, Yates gives no one physical quarter, and the young man just looks like he’s working hard all the damn time, with a pained expression on his face that says, “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life.” There’s more than a pretty face to him, of course–Yates skates strongly, wins draws and possesses grit and jam. Whether he starts the year in Toledo or Grand Rapids, however, is up to him.

76 Nicholas Guay: Guay got pushed around a little bit, and that’s to be expected as the 6’1,” 183-pound Drummondville Voltigeurs forward and try-out was playing in his first game, and he was battling a big, ornery and fast Stars team. Overall, he was solid enough to merit playing on Monday, and that’s enough.


21 Dennis Cholowski “A”–76 Trevor Hamilton*

21 Dennis Cholowski: Cholowski actually leads the Wings with 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 3 games, and Cholowski is actually driving me crazy by still making an extra deke or an extra move when he tries to carry the puck out of the zone or set up his teammates with his seeing-eye outlet passes.

Sorry. I can’t help but admit it. Cholowski has come so very far over the course of his relatively short career with the Wings, and the 6’1,” 195-to-200-pound Cholowski has done a great job of maturing physically, mentally and hockey-wise over the course of just a couple of years.

He’s got top-three NHL defenseman’s potential because all his skill sets are excellent, but coming out of college, he’s still making that extra half-second’s worth of delay to be doubly sure that he’s making the right play, and at the NHL level, even if you don’t know that you’re making the right play, you make it in a damn hurry. So, like David Pope, perhaps it’s better to get the culture shock over with and play even more effectively as a result. “Cholo’s” stock will rise as he further simplifies an already excellent game.

76 Trevor Hamilton: My eyebrow rose (and I can do a fairly good Spock impression there) quizzically when I found out that Trevor Hamilton, a Grand Rapids Griffins-signed Penn State University graduate, would plop down his 23-year-old, 6,’ 198-pound frame next to Cholowski’s on the bench and then on the ice.

Hamilton, like Jordan Topping and Trevor Yates, made the most of his opportunity, sliding almost seamlessly onto “Cholowski’s wing” as the resident relief valve and security blanket, and the Griffins-or-Walleye-bound defenseman did a great job playing major minutes alongside one of the Wings’ brightest talents. Sometimes, not making yourself look bad is an achievement, and as Cholowski has a tendency to make a daring rush from time to time, Hamilton used his age and maturity to keep himself and his team looking good against a difficult opponent.

63 Jared McIsaac–29 Vili Saarijarvi “A”

63 Jared McIsaac: The more I see of McIsaac, the more I like about the “bonus first round pick.” Like Veleno, I can’t say whether McIsaac is a top-four or a 4-5-6 defenseman, but I do believe that he is on an NHL-bound developmental track, and that’s because he’s really, really good at the subtle shi…I mean stuff. McIsaac is big enough growing into his 6’1,” 193-pound body, he’s mean enough when necessary, and he’s talented enough in terms of the whole skating/passing/shooting/vision/stick/lateral-and-backwards-skating matrix of skills that makes defensemen good or not so good. But McIsaac makes the right play the vast majority of the time, and McIsaac makes making the right play look easy.

It’s not. Making the right play the vast majority of the time is hard, and at 18, McIsaac possesses a hockey IQ well in excess of his age. That’s good for him and good for the Red Wings.

29 Vili Saarijarvi: Vili told me that he drank so much fluids to keep himself hydrated that he was peeing every five minutes, and he still cramped up and missed a couple of shifts in the 3rd period, so I’m curious to see whether the Wings might want to get Vili the kind of professional help that allowed Marc-Andre Fleury and Jean-Sebastien Giguere to overcome dehydration issues. That’s my concern #1 of the night for Vili–that he gets healthy.

But it’s hard to not see the 5’10,” 182-pound defenseman not playing in the NHL at some point, maybe not out of training camp, and maybe not until the new year, but at some point, and thriving there. Saarijarvi is not big by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s worked very hard to build an NHL’ers body onto his frame…

And he’s damn talented, just as talented as Cholowski. Vili in particular is a tremendous skater whose lateral and backwards skating are excellent; he sees the ice very well and uses his right-shooting stick to fire outlet passes to open players, or to head-man the rush himself; he shoots heavily and while he is not physical, Saarijarvi has a knack for avoiding big hits against at the very last second. He’s going to grab a spot in GR, maybe play half a year to a full year in the AHL to really establish himself as a pro, and things should go upward from there. I would argue that the Wings have two at-least-second-pair-stalwarts in Cholowski and Saarijarvi, at least in the making.

50 Reilly Webb–73 Marcus Crawford*

50 Reilly Webb: Webb had an up-and-down effort in his first game, especially in the early periods, but when Saarijarvi went out for a bit in the 3rd, Webb bit down hard on his opportunity to play. A massive 6’3″ and 201 pounds of arms and legs, Webb is going into his contract year/final year of Major Junior hockey needing to play a really good season to differentiate himself from the crop. Eventually, anyway, the big, physical stay-at-home defenseman showed some promise.

73 Marcus Crawford: Crawford was the final piece of the Wings prospects’ strategy to go a little older and go a little safer on Saturday, and the 5’11,” 190-pound 21-year-old, Griffins-contracted defender played with a familiar face in Webb, a Saginaw Spirit teammate. Crawford is likely Walleye-bound, but he was solid enough and smart enough to engage in the bump and grind while steadying Webb a bit. I was impressed with what I saw from Crawford in somewhat limited duty.


#36 Kaden Fulcher: Fulcher still has some holes, and Fulcher still has some maturing to do in terms of his game and his 6’3″-going-on-6’4,” 182-pound frame, but Fulcher was absolutely clutch in making not a lot of saves but a lot of quality, stifle-a-scoring-chance stops as the Wings all but completely shut down the Stars.

Fulcher made some tremendous acrobatic stops, reaching back to smother goal-line squeakers; he displayed good puckhandling abilities, much better than I anticipated; Fulcher’s fundamentals were excellent, and his ability to battle as a sort of bigger, slightly more conservative Jonathan Quick-style “battling” goaltender yielded excellent stops on back-door plays and serious scoring chances off the rush.

I’m not saying that Fulcher’s the next Jonathan Quick, but the Walleye-bound netminder has a lot of potential to become a strong NHL starter in a couple of years.

Back-up goalie and scratches:

#34 Patrik Rybar (goaltender): No complaints regarding Rybar. I really, really appreciate the 6’3,” 190-pound turning-North-American-pro goaltender’s utterly controlled butterfly style, his ability to boot pucks into the corners and out of trouble seemingly without even trying, and his patient demeanor. If he doesn’t get another prospect tournament game, he’s still Grand Rapids-bound to battle with Harri Sateri for a starting AHL spot.

46 Lane Zablocki (forward): Zablocki is clearly injured, because the Wings need another mean, Givani Smith-style energy forward in the lineup, and the 6,’ 190-pound Zablocki is exactly that kind of player. I hope he gets healthy in time for training camp.

68 Justin Fazio** (goaltender): Again, Fazio is looking for a pro job with another organization, hoping that one of the 200 scouts in attendance sees fit to give the Wings’ “practice goalie” a job, and the 6’1,” 188-pound try-out from Sarnia has put in an admirable effort of working hard for the sake of working hard.

74 Cole Fraser (defenseman): I was surprised that the nasty 6’2,” 191-pound defenseman didn’t get a second chance after an up-and-down Friday game, but the Wings decided to go for a steadier lineup, and the physical Fraser drew the short end of the stick when Reilly Webb’s turn came up. I like Fraser’s potential as a bottom-pair defenseman with snarl, but he’s going to have to play tremendously well in Peterborough this year to stand out.

89 Pavel Gogolev** (forward): A free agent invite, Gogolev had a solid-enough game on Friday, too, but the 6,’ 168-pound Peterborough Petes forward was replaced by older players, and in a short tournament, fortunes change quickly.

92 Maxim Golod** (forward): Golod, like Gogolev, played solidly on Friday, but the 5’10,” 160-pound forward from the Erie Otters gave way to Nicholas Guay. We’ll see whether the gents get back in the lineup as the tournament progresses.

94 Alec Regula (defenseman): Regula, like Fraser, earned the short end of the stick when the Wings chose to go with a more mature defensive corps, but I’m not particularly worried about Regula. At all of 18, the 6’4,” 203-pound defenseman has a gigantic frame, a solid skill set, and he didn’t play alongside Oilers draft pick Evan Bouchard in London due to a fluke. Regula remains a very solid complementary defenseman prospect.
* = Griffins contract, ** = Try-out.

Finally, as a reminder: a really good fundraising day = I’m only $700 from being able to afford the full two weeks’ worth of hotel stay for the Traverse City trip. If you’re willing to lend a hand, is the place to go. Thank you for your time and thank you for reading, skimming, or otherwise perusing this entry!

Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

3 thoughts on “Impressions from the Red Wings prospects’ 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the prospect tournament ’18”

  1. Good to hear the Red Wings prospects held the opponents to just 17 SOG… not bad at all. Playing both ways is a real good thing.

    Love the game from Rasmussen… he’s going to be a good one.

    1. That’s exactly what I’ve been hearing form a lot of fans after this second game. There were some who thought his first game was a total bust and they were writing him off.

  2. There nothing about Ras’ game that people should be writing him off. Shoot, I thought he was good enough last preseason to make the team. He has a maturity about himself that defies his age. Not just the way he plays, but how he handles himself with the media.

    I worry more about Zadina then Ras.

Comments are closed.