Thursday night round-up: Blashill’s remarks regarding the Rasmussen-Veleno-Zadina line, Larkin’s responsibilities, getting better; numbers games and more

I had my annual pre-training camp anxiety attack, so I was down and out for a couple of hours this afternoon. As a result, here are this evening’s crop of Red Wings-related stories:

1. The Red Wings posted a clip of Jeff Blashill’s Thurdsay presser with the media. The Free Press, MLive and the Detroit News also posted shorter clips of the full 12-minute media availability:

2. From Blashill’s remarks, the Free Press’s Helene St. James took note of the Wings’ decision to place Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina on the same line for training camp…

“The line of Veleno, Rasmussen and Zadina all showed moments of being very good,” Blashill said. “It was great to see some of our young guys look like they’ve taken some steps and are ready for this main camp. Those three young guys, they get a chance to show what they can do on their own rather than maybe just benefiting from playing with somebody who has been in the league a long time. It’s a great opportunity for those guys.”

One appeal of keeping the three together is seeing how they scrimmage against NHL defenders such as Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and Luke Glendening.

“In the scrimmage and in the Red-White game, we’ll have them go against Larkin, they’ll go against Nielsen, they’ll go AA and whoever is on those lines,” Blashill said. “And now they get to be able to show where exactly they stand without necessarily giving them any kind of crutch at all.

“We’re not going to let them sink, but it’s a little bit of a sink-or-swim mentality where you have a chance to show that you are better than these other players. I think that will make for real competitive scrimmages. And I may use them in a preseason game to go up against NHL players. I want them to carry themselves because for them to help us be better this year, they have to be able to carry themselves.”

3. MLive’s Ansar Khan also discussed Blashill’s remarks regarding the Rasmussen-Veleno-Zadina line…

“We’re not going to let them sink, but it’s a little bit of a sink or swim mentality where you got a chance to show you’re better than these other players, so go show in those scrimmages,” Blashill said. “I think that’ll make for a real competitive scrimmage. Try to avoid giving them a crutch where someone’s going to be carrying them along. I want them to carry themselves, because for them to help us be better this year they got to carry themselves.”

The Red Wings are sticking with their plan of playing Rasmussen, a natural center, at wing. It will ease his defensive responsibilities as he transitions from juniors to the NHL. But with Henrik Zetterberg (back issues) out for camp, the start of the season and perhaps his career, the team maintains the flexibility to move Rasmussen back to center.

“I had thought of potentially playing him some at center in camp,” Blashill said. “I thought he played pretty well when he was on the wing. That certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t think he can play center, but right now he looks like he’s done a real good job on the wing, so we’re going to put him in a situation where I think gives him the best chance to shine.”

Regardless, they plan to utilize his 6-foot-6 frame as a net-front presence.

“He was an excellent net-front presence in the prospects tournament,” Blashill said. “He’s a huge man who’s got good eye-hand and he’s got good ability to position himself.”

Blashill said big, abrasive forward Givani Smith (6-2, 210), the club’s second pick in 2016 (46th overall), also looked good in the tournament. Smith will be starting his pro career with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season.

Filip Hronek, Joe Hicketts, Libor Sulak and Dennis Cholowski — four young defensemen competing for a spot on the Red Wings – are on Team Howe along with the Veleno line.

Hronek has the inside track on earning an NHL job based on his strong rookie season with the Griffins. Cholowski impressed at the Prospects Tournament (which didn’t include the other three), collecting six points (goal, five assists).

“Our best players (in the tournament) were our youngest players, players that were drafted in the high rounds,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Smith, Rasmussen, Veleno, Zadina, (Jared) McIsaac, Cholowski, they all played well. It’s a tough tournament. I thought the players we need and want to play well for the most part did play well.”

4. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also surveyed Blashill’s remarks from the course of his presser:

On how he divided the three squads for training camp: “I divided it up basically, completely equal, with some adjustment,” Blashill said. “I divided the teams up equal with the idea we want this to be a very competitive camp. There’s tons of spots that are up for grabs.”

On Henrik Zetterberg, who will not be available for the start of the regular season because of persistent back issues: “Nothing from me today. We’re hoping to have more (information) for you tomorrow (Friday).”

On the health of the other players: “(Defenseman Jared) McIsaac would be the only one of those young guys not available. I don’t think he’ll be available for camp.”

McIsaac suffered a shoulder injury during the tournament. Blashill said Zadina “is good to go” after suffering a wrist injury in Tuesday’s championship game.

Veteran defensemen Mike Green (coming of neck surgery) and Brian Lashoff (undisclosed) may also be limited during the camp.

Blashill again emphasized there are jobs available: “After two years not being good enough, it’s as wide open a camp as we’ve had here in a long, long time,” Blashill said. “It has to be, based on the results we’ve had. I hope that a bunch of guys we’ve had on our team got better this summer and they come back way better, because then we’ll be a better team.

“Then, I hope a bunch of young guys are in position to really challenge and try to take other guys’ jobs. They can’t be given jobs. If they’re given jobs, then it means they’re not necessarily better. It’s when they earn jobs by taking them, it means they’re better than the guys’ jobs they’re taking. It’ll be ultra-competitive in the sense that we’re as open as we ever have been to the jobs being given to whoever earns them.”

What will Blashill’s message to the team be? “I hope we have a room full of guys who got better and if they didn’t, then we have to find a way to replace them because we need to make sure we’re a better hockey team than we were at the end of last year.”

Kulfan continues

5.’s Dana Wakiji also filed a notebook article

[Dylan] Larkin, who led the Wings in scoring last year with 63 points in 82 games, was given a lot of responsibility last season.

With captain Henrik Zetterberg not available, at the very least for the first part of the season, the burden on Larkin will grow heavier.

“I think Larks spent lots of time last year as the No. 1 center,” Blashill said. “It was 50-50 in terms of who was kind of getting those types of minutes. Larks certainly would have had as big a matchup as Z at any point. Larks would have had lots of power play time, Larks would have had lots of PK time so I think he’s very prepared for it. I thought he had a real good year last year, I thought he took a huge step to being that two-way player that I think he can be where he’s real good defensively and yet put up 60-some points. I’d like to see, I think he’d like to see, can he get up in that 70ish range or higher and continue to work at his defensive game. He’s talked about making big plays in big moments, whether it’s defensively or offensively, so I think he’s in a good spot.

“These steps aren’t easy. This will be another hard step for him. As you get up the pyramid, those steps get harder and harder and harder. So I hope he can take another one here this year. We’re going to need him to.”

7. Traverse City’s Interlochen Public Radio posted a 3-minute clip of Wings director of player evaluation Jiri Fischer and Centre ICE Arena director Terry Marchand discussing the Wings’ prospect tournament and training camp;

8. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed an article discussing Libor Sulak’s status as something of a “dark horse” candidate for a roster spot:

Sulak, though, is the wild card. He’s 24, from the Czech Republic, and played professionally in Finland last season, after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Wings in May 2017.

At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Sulak has a good frame and his offensive talents currently are ahead of his defense.

“Good skating, good play in last season’s game, and I have more experience,” said Sulak, of some of his strengths, of which English isn’t quite there yet, but also has improved over time. “I feel like (I’m) better than last year.”

Sulak had 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) in 42 games playing for Lahti last season, then took a big step forward with his performance at the world championships.

Sulak had three points in eight games while representing the Czech Republic. But it was his ability to hold his own while playing against many NHL players that gave Sulak, and the Red Wings, optimism heading into this training camp.

“I think so,” said Sulak, on whether the world championships instilled confidence. “Playing a lot of guys in the NHL, it was good experience for me. I know (I could) play against (NHL) guys. I hope I play good here.”

9.’s Clark Rasmussen took note of the Red Wings’ training camp number changes:

Unsurprisingly, July 1st free agent signees Thomas Vanek and Jonathan Bernier will wear their usual #26 and #45, with Vanek opting not to go back to the #62 he wore in his first stint with Detroit (as #26 then belonged to Tomas Jurco).

Evgeny Svechnikov appears to have switched for the second year in a row, going from the #77 he wears in Grand Rapids to the #37 he wore for his first year in Detroit.

With Svechnikov back in #37, Griffins captain Matt Ford will wear #77 in camp rather than the #79 he had last year.

Chris Terry keeps the #15 he was assigned for the prospects tournament while Colin Campbell, having lost his previous #45 to Bernier, takes the #17 vacated by the departure of David Booth.

I’d expected Tyler Bertuzzi to switch to #17 but he keeps his #59. Maybe next year.

Rasmussen continues

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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.