The Detroit Red Wings’ summer development camps aren’t reserved for the Red Wings’ draft picks and signed prospects alone.
The Red Wings welcome both free agents who may never sign with the Wings and some AHL-contracted players who may never play in Detroit or even Grand Rapids to their summer development camps and fall prospect tournaments, and the invites and AHL contracts receive just as much attention and investment in terms of time, energy and money spent on equipment, on and off-ice training, education and nutrition that the Wings’ top prospects receive.
As a result, both Grand Rapids Griffins coach Ben Simon and Toledo Walleye coach Dan Watson, who both participate in the summer development camps and fall prospect tournaments, are watching and evaluating potential employees.
The Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe spoke with coach Watson regarding his status as watching possible Walleye players in action:
“If the Red Wings feel like these players need more playing time, a lot of times they will send them to us to continue their development,” Watson said.
Rookie forward Zach Gallant, who was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft, got his first taste of pro hockey with the Walleye this past season. Gallant played in four games for Toledo at the end of the regular season and had four points with one goal and three assists. Gallant, a 20-year-old native of London, Ont., then had 12 points (6 G, 6 A) during the Walleye’s playoff run.
Forward David Pope, who was picked in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, also played for the Walleye this season.
The team also had several other players that are under contract with the Red Wings who contributed last season. Goaltenders Pat Nagle and Fulcher, along with forwards Jordan Topping, Dylan Sadowy, Bryan Moore, and defensemen Marcus Crawford and Trevor Hamilton, all were assigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids.
Walleye general manager Neil Neukam has called the relationship between Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Toledo “one of the strongest in professional hockey.”
“We look forward to its continued growth,” Neukam said.