I’m not sure whether this was due to a bad patch on the ice at the BELFOR or whether the Wings were simply able to present the main ice surface to the players after holding other events at LCA; either way, it was impressive to see the prospects take to the big boys’ rink for the final day of skill development drills.
On Friday evening, the players will engage in a 3-on-3 tournament, preceding a full-team Red & White Game scrimmage on Saturday at noon. Here’s Friday’s schedule:
6:00 – 6:20 p.m. – On-Ice Warm-Up (All Players)
6:30 – 6:50 p.m. – 3-on-3 Tournament Game #1
7:10 – 7:30 p.m. – 3-on-3 Tournament Game #2
7:40 – 8:00 p.m. – 3-on-3 Tournament Consolation Game
8:20 – 8:40 p.m. – 3-on-3 Tournament Championship Game
As of Thursday evening, the Wings have yet to release the 3-on-3 rosters for the four teams participating in the event. I’m assuming that not all players present for the development camp will take part in the tournament, with everybody drawing back in for Saturday’s 12 PM scrimmage.
On Thursday morning and afternoon, the players on Team Howe and Team Lindsay reversed their roles from Wednesday’s activities, with Team Howe engaging in stickhandling and sometimes jumping drills with Swedish skill development coach Daniel Broberg; Team Lindsay engaged in drills with the Power Edge Pro coaches, using the PEP trainers to simulate opposing checkers as they deked and dangled their way through an intense, fast-paced set of drills.
As Filip Larsson suggested today, the goaltenders haven’t really engaged in as much development under coaches Jeff Salajko, Brian Mahoney-Wilson and Matej Swoch, but they’re stopping shots for two-plus hours non-stop, and that workload in itself, combined with the feedback from the goaltending coaches, is giving the goalies a serious workout.
For the Team Howe skaters that worked with Broberg, first forwards (1 hour’s worth of instruction) and then defensemen (1 hour’s worth of instruction), I found Shawn Horcoff and Daniel Cleary to be particularly crucial as co-instructors with Broberg, at least early on. The players first engaged in drills designed to force them to make plays at either the full extent of their reach–while trying to remain relatively upright instead of leaning out over their toes–and then, and perhaps moreover, drills designed to force the players to stickhandle against the grain while working their outside or inside edges of their skate blades, often alternating between edges over the course of a couple of moves, never mind the entirety of a set of drills.
Most of the jumping-over-PEP-trainers was done by the defensemen, who did not find it easy to carry the puck while skipping or plain old two-leg jumping over obstacles, and Team Howe seemed to have more trouble with the drills…
That was something of a theme for Thursday, too. The Team Lindsay skaters engaging in Power Edge Pro drills seemed to tire a bit and fumble the puck fairly regularly.
Why? There’s something to be said for some physical and mental fatigue some 3 days into a 5-day skill development camp, and the drills the players were engaged in were anything but simple. Many of the situational skill drills had players making 3, 4 or even 5 passes before getting down to the business of taking a shot–if that was even the drill’s ultimate result.
In the case of the Power Edge Pro coaches, sometimes there was no shot at the end of the drill. Skating or stickhandling through and/or over the Power Edge Pro stick-simulating checkers was paramount, as was moving the puck to and from targets with pace, so players would start the drill with one puck on their stick, and finish it sending a second puck passed from a coach toward their closest local netminder.
Efficiency of skating, efficiency of passing, navigating through obstacles simulating opposing players, and engaging in the skating, passing and navigating at a high rate of speed yields mistakes, and that’s okay when players are learning, which is the whole point of holding a development camp.
The goal is not to score per se; the goal is to provide the players with as much on-ice instruction as their brains can absorb, so that maybe 5% of it sticks and the player is able to focus on improving a skill or shoring up a weakness.
So, keeping in mind that this is a learning and development camp as opposed to an evaluation camp, here are my impressions of the players taking part in the Wings’ development camp:
#14 Robert Mastrosimone: It took a couple of days’ worth of observation to figure out that the Red Wings most likely drafted the 5’10,” 170-pound Mastrosimone with the 54th overall pick in this year’s draft because of his hustle. The point-per-game USHL forward headed to Boston University does everything at an intense and fast pace, which is essential if one is a small puck-carrying forward.
#44 Ryan O’Reilly: O’Reilly is one of the Wings’ many long-term projects. At 19 years of age, the 6’2,” 201-pound Green Bay Gamblers forward will take one more crack at a consistent USHL season before heading to the University of Denver, and O’Reilly has the size and speed necessary to accomplish his primary task–scoring goals–but the rest of his game needs filling out. I believe that he’ll get there over time.
#46 Chase Pearson: Turning pro at 22, the 6’2,” 200-pound Pearson provides jam, grit and resolve in a speedy puck-carrying forward who’s heading to Grand Rapids or Toledo this fall after 3 seasons spent at the University of Maine, with his last serving as a co-captain of his team. Pearson has a man’s physique and a man’s maturity, understanding that his college-level offense may or may not determine whether he succeeds as a 2-way forward in the NHL.
#56 Ryan Kuffner: Kuffner had another good day after a wretched first outing, shaking off rust as the 6’1,” 195-pound Princeton graduate looked more like an offensively-adept passer and puck-carrier than a future fourth-line fixture. The free agent signing plays an enthusiastic, hard-working game.
#57 Jonatan Berggren: Berggren continues to look like a different player than the one that attended last year’s development camp from a physical point of view, and Berggren continues to display excellent skill as a puck-mover and puck-carrier who is able to pass and make plays with strong vision and hockey sense. He’ll head back to Sweden to try and crack Skelleftea AIK’s men’s team roster on a full-time basis. He’s an elusive water-bug.
#62 Cody Morgan**: Morgan had his best day on Thursday, with the 5’11,” 183-pound Flint Firebirds forward displaying the same kind of pace to his game that Mastrosimone displayed. Still 18, Morgan posted 39 points in 63 OHL games this past season, and, as is the case with most of the OHL/QMJHL invites, he’s likely to earn an invite to the fall prospect tournament.
#76 Jarid Lukosevicius*: The 5’10,” 185-pound Lukosevicius posted 29 points in 40 games with the University of Denver this past season, and the Griffins-contracted, likely Walleye-bound forward hasn’t stood out as much more than a fleet-footed right-shooting forward. He moves and he moves fast, but I’m not seeing a lot of offensive upside.
#79 Samuel Bucek**: Perhaps on the opposite end of the spectrum, the 6’3,” 192-pound Slovakian scorer displays a massive amount of scoring potential and a massive amount of work to be done to round into a proper professional athlete. Bucek posted 30 goals and 51 points in 53 games with Nitra in Slovakia, and he’s making the proper career decision in heading to a much more difficult league in the Finnish Liiga. It’s anything but KooKoo for Bucek to head to Kouvola, Finland this fall, and man, he’s got “all the tools,” as they say, but his disparate passing, shooting, playmaking and scoring elements (and big body) do not equal a complete hockey player. Yet.
#81 Alex Limoges**: I continue to be impressed with Limoges as the Penn State junior skates strongly, passes superbly, and shows a sniper’s touch from time to time. Limoges, at 21 going on 22 years of age, stands at 6’1″ and 201 pounds, and he’s really stood out among all the try-outs as a smooth, polished puck-moving forward with the skating, scoring and intellectual capacities necessary to process the game at a high level.
#85 Elmer Soderblom: It’s a pleasure to watch a big guy who has “always been big” simply not suffer from “big man’s syndrome.” Soderblom is still a raw project in terms of his hockey skills at 18 years of age, but the 6’7,” 220-pound Frolunda Indians forward is utterly at ease with maximizing his size, reach and skating. He just plays, and learns.
#88 Chad Yetman**: Yetman was brought in as a try-out from the Erie Otters after posting a solid 57 points in 68 games played, and the 5’11,” 176-pound forward may yet earn an invite to the fall prospect tournament, but he’s bobbed along with the try-outs.
#90 Joe Veleno: Each day that passes yields more offensive ability displayed by the well-rounded Veleno. the QMJHL-graduating center moved the puck to and fro with excellent pace and excellent poise today, making some very difficult skating drills look easy. He shoots, passes, makes plays, checks, pursues loose pucks and can bump and grind. He’s not overly big at 6’1″ and 191 pounds, but Veleno displays all the talent necessary to fill whatever role the Wings feel a second-line center should fill.
#53 Moritz Seider: I got to see Seider hop and jump on Thursday, and it was almost a Soderblom-watching experience. There were times that Seider had some hiccups, but for the vast majority of the time, the 6’4,” 207-pound German looked to be utterly at ease with his massive frame as he hopped, skipped and leaped over coach Broberg’s obstacles, and as I keep saying, the Adler Mannheim defenseman looks like a professional player at 18 years of age. Whatever they do in the German league to set up the foundation of a player’s skills, they do correctly–or perhaps Seider learned correctly–because he’s skating, passing, playmaking, shooting and viewing the ice like a pro. He also happened to score 3 straight goals during Broberg’s drills, and that thrilled the fans in attendance.
#63 Alec McCrea*: The 6’3,” 212-pound McCrea possesses a big frame and a stay-at-home-defenseman’s persona. The 24-year-old Grand Rapids Griffins signee is likely to start his pro career in the ECHL, and thus far, I’ve seen meat, I’ve seen potatoes, and those simpler skills have been all I’ve seen from McCrea.
#73 Malte Setkov: Setkov confounds and confuses me. He’s a self-measured 6’7″ and 192 pounds, he’s arms, legs, torso and reach, wingspan and size in a measured package, but there are times that he looks like someone who’s cracked the Malmo Redhawks men’s team roster, and there are times that Setkov looks like the player that’s still struggling to find a way through the Allsvenskan. He possesses all the “fundamentals” necessary to succeed; he’s just got to put them together.
#84 Kasper Kotkansalo: If Kotkansalo cannot out-skill the Seiders of the world, he’s going to out-physically compete them. With athletic jumps and vigorous panache, Kotkansalo did a very good job of looking dominant in terms of his skating and physical assets on Thursday. At 6’2″ and 196 pounds, he’s no giant, but I compare him to Kyle Quincey regularly because, should he continue to improve his skating, the junior at Boston University could very well become a shut-down specialist.
#95 Albert Johansson: Johansson looked “small” at 6′ and 168 pounds, but he was as athletic and energetic as Kotkansalo at times, and the Farjestads BK defenseman has displayed a strong amount of pace and overall skill in his game, but he’s also 18 and played in an 18-and-under league this past season, so there’s literal and physical room for improvement there.
#96 Cooper Moore: The 6’1,” 181-pound Moore looked like a savvy puck-mover and puck-lugger on Thursday, displaying for the first time the kind of talent which motivated the Wings to draft him 128th overall in Vancouver. He’s going to British Columbia this fall to play for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, and then he’ll head to the University of North Dakota. Not big, not strong, but wide-bodied and savvy with the puck.
#98 Owen Lalonde**: I counted 7 of 8 defensemen out there, and Lalonde was the player not present for coach Broberg’s drills. The 6’1,” 180-pound Guelph Storm try-out may very well be back for the fall prospect tournament, and when he’s played, he’s looked skilled, but not much else.
#34 Victor Brattstrom: Brattstrom had an awful day, quite frankly. He got beaten early and often, and it was surprising to see someone who is 22 and can boast several SHL seasons to his credit to struggle. The big (6’5,” 198 pounds) blocking-style goaltender simply couldn’t keep pucks out of the top of the net, neither on the blocker nor the glove side, and it was like the bad goals cascaded into a bad morning for somebody who has a hell of a lot more skill than his performance indicated.
#36 Kaden Fulcher: Fulcher remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury, and the 6’3,” 182-pound goaltender needs to take a step forward and challenge the recently-re-signed (like today) Pat Nagle for the starter’s job in Toledo this upcoming season. At 22, with one pro season under his belt, it’s simply time to make a leap.
#38 Filip Larsson: Larsson rebounded from a so-so Wednesday with a very solid Thursday’s worth of work. The 6’2,” 187-pound University of Denver alumnus has covered a lot of ground at 21 (Djurgardens IF’s under-20 team, the Tri-City Storm and then Denver) over the past three seasons, he’s endured two serious groin injuries and one groin surgery, and coming out of it all, the Wings signed Larsson because his talent as a netminder is evident from the first viewing. Larsson is polished, poised and patient as a netminder, he uses his arms as a unit and his legs help him–quoting myself from yesterday–maximize his size and reach.
#68 Drew DeRidder**: Most definitely a “good story,” the 5’10,” 159-pound Michigan State University back-up has excellent fundamentals and actually uses what turns out to be a stocky frame and body to gobble up as many pucks as possible. When you can’t use size to dominate, you utilize skill and jam.
#11 Filip Zadina: Zadina skated! Zadina took some turns, despite his injured hamstring! Zadina looked shaky, then looked better, then flashed some of his show-stopping shooting skills…
And then he was gone, half an hour into an hour-long set of drills, presumably so he didn’t further strain that hamstring. We’ll see whether he takes part in Friday’s 3-on-3 tournament or Saturday’s Red and White game.
#18 Albin Grewe: Grewe faded a bit on Thursday, but just a bit. The 6,’ 187-pound Djurgardens IF junior team forward did a fine job of keeping up with the pace and flow of the skating drills, but there were bumbled passes here and there. As an 18-year-old and 2019 draft pick, there’s lots of room for improvement, and a lot of skill already there.
#22 Ethan Phillips: The Red Wings invested fairly heavily in undersized forwards in this year’s draft, and at 5’9″ and 146 pounds, the Halifax native and incoming Boston University freshman possesses excellent skating skills and he lugs the puck up ice quite well, but he’s got a lot of room for growth.
#42 Mathieu Bizier*: Bizier didn’t dominate by any stretch of the imagination, but the 6’1,” 187-pound QMJHL’er did step things up on Thursday. He posted 39 points in 68 games with Gatineau this past season, and he’s likely to return for the prospect tournament.
#49 Otto Kivenmaki: Kivenmaki is as comfortable being 5’8″ and 154 pounds as Elmer Soderblom is being 6’7.” Kivenmaki isn’t going to grow much or add much weight, but he knows he can add strength to his frame and savvy anticipation to his game, so, for a “small player,” he’s a speedy puck-mover who occasionally shows that he’s got some grit and jam to him.
#50 Thomas Casey*: Casey is a try-out who posted 34 points in 54 games for his hometown Charlottetown Islanders, the local QMJHL team. At 5’8″ and 185 pounds, he’s displayed some skill as a puck carrier, but I’ve literally and figuratively not seen much from him.
#58 Jack Adams: Adams says that his 6’5,” 204-pound-listed frame is an inch short but faithful on the weight element. He’s like Setkov in that the Union College junior has displayed tremendous abilities (in Adams’ case, goal-scoring) but sometimes struggles to put the parts of his game together. He’s coming off a terribly rough season, and, hopefully, a little more stability off the ice will yield a bit more production on the ice.
#67 Taro Hirose: Hirose isn’t going full-out as he’s recovering from an injured hamstring muscle, but he displayed the most skill of any player not named Filip Zadina on Team Lindsay, and the 5’10,” 160-pound water-bug suggested that he can get stronger, heavier and, like Kivenmaki, better in terms of his anticipation and attention to detail during his interview.
#75 Troy Loggins**: Loggins stands at 5’9″ and 161 pounds, and he posted 40 points in 39 games with Northern Michigan University, so his challenge is to attempt to sustain that kind of production when the Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted forward begins his professional career, most likely with Toledo
#78 Gregor MacLeod**: MacLeod followed his teammates in stepping things up on Thursday. The pace of MacLeod’s passes was good and the 84-point-scorer from Drummondville, inked to an AHL/ECHL contract by the Griffins, will do the same thing as Loggins, with a little more meat on the bone at 6′ and 183 pounds–try to post points in the ECHL and earn an early promotion to the AHL. Again, he’s a teammate of Joe Veleno with Drummondville of the QMJHL.
#82 Odeen Tufto*: Tufto did not take part in Thursday’s activities due to an injury. Small at 5’8″ and 174 pounds, the Quinnipiac Bobcats forward posted 42 points in 38 NCAA games this past season, and he didn’t stand out during the viewings I had on Tuesday or Wednesday.
#89 Owen Robinson*: Robinson was able to keep up with the drills as the 7,’ 170-pound forward from the Sudbury Wolves bobbed about with his try-out teammates. He posted 41 points in 61 games this past season, and Robinson may receive an invite to the fall prospect tournament.
#24 Antti Tuomisto: Very quiet on Thursday. Tuomisto, massive at 6’4″ and 194 pounds, was more than able to keep up with his teammates in the skating and skill drills, but he was otherwise invisible, and that’s hard to do when you’re as big as Tuomisto is. I’m still very impressed with his overall skating-and-skills package, and at all of 18 years old, the 2019 2nd-round draft pick has room to grow as he attempts to earn a spot on Assat Pori’s men’s team.
#26 Marc-Olivier Duquette*: Duquette is another very big guy at 6’4″ and 205 pounds, and the left-shot defenseman from Drummondville was invited to camp as a free agent because his skating is quite good…But that’s all that’s stood out thus far.
#28 Gustav Lindstrom: Lindstrom was also a little quiet on Thursday, albeit during some limited viewing. Coach Broberg’s drills were more to Lindstrom’s taste, but the 6’2,” 187-pound, turning-North-American-pro defenseman has looked tremendously sound and offensively adept as a playmaking defender. Lindstrom has excellent vision and his passes and playmaking skills are near-elite, at least in terms of what I’ve been able to see from him over the course of summer development camps (read: not too much passing to actual teammates). I believe that Lindstrom’s skill set and two-way play will translate to North American ice.
#86 Seth Barton: Barton looks ten or fifteen pounds lighter than his 6’3,” 174-pound-listed measurements, and he’s certainly got the skill to make strong passes and use his lighter frame to fleet-footed extents, but he has yet to make a big impression on me. He’s heading back to UMass-Lowell this fall to improve upon his 10-point 2018-19 campaign.
#87 Charles-Edouard D’Astous**: D’Astous, inked to a Grand Rapids Griffins contract after a 66-points-in-55-games campaign with Rimouski of the QMJHL, looks very good and quite skilled as a skater, puck-mover and marginally physical player at 6’2″ and 205 pounds. I’ve been impressed by what is an understated game from D’Astous.
#92 Patrick Holway: Holway got the most out of an NCAA Transfer Season (read: he did not play after leaving the University of Maine and enrolling in Merrimack), working on his body to finally fill out a 6’4,” 204-pound frame, and as I told somebody in the stands with me, he’s no longer all arms and legs and knees and elbows, pointing in different directions. Holway’s gotten his body to move as a unit, and that’s empowered the stay-at-home defender to take more educated risks with the puck.
#94 Alec Regula: Regula finds himself in a very frustrating situation. The 6’4,” 203-pound defenseman has a sore knee that’s not getting better, but doctors are not recommending surgery for him, so he’s working out and hoping that the soreness goes away without the need for eventual surgery. When you’re 19 and you’ve played for the powerhouse London Knights, patience might not be your strong suit.
#97 Gustav Berglund: Berglund and Barton stand in the same boat for me, as players who were drafted but have not made big impressions as big, right-shooting D. At 6’2″ and 190 pounds, the Frolunda Indians defender posted 29 points in 28 games for the under-18 team–and those are phenomenal numbers for an 18-year-old–but I’m only seeing him skate and shoot for the first time, and he’s been…steadily skilled.
#00 Robbie Beydoun*: In all honesty, Beydoun doesn’t look much bigger than Drew DeRidder, and at 6′ and 185 pounds, he’s not much bigger than the 5’10” netminder, but Beydoun, a Michigan Tech sophomore, had a strong freshman season, and his flashy glove and blocker hands allow him to reach for the kinds of pucks that bigger goalies snatch and grab out of the air.
#31 Jesper Eliasson: “White Bread” had a sound Thursday outing. The 6’3,” 209-pound Vaxjo Lakers goalie seems to blend into the background at times, but his vanilla-style goaltender is efficient, intelligent and effective as a shot-blocker with poise and, well, unlike Beydoun, reach.
#60 Carter Gylander: Gylander has the most “reach” of any of the Red Wings’ goaltenders. He’s listed at 6’5″ and 172 pounds, but the Sherwood Park Raiders (AJHL) netminder is all arms and legs, so the 18-year-old goaltender literally reaches for pucks that aren’t necessarily in his “wheelhouse.” In other words, unlike DeRidder and Beydoun, Gylander can get caught reaching, caught trying to use his size to stop pucks that squeak through, and sometimes that’s frustrating to see, but his fundamentals are excellent, he’s big and athletic, and he’s light on his feet, as you would expect. Coming out of his draft year, the reach for Gylander is convincing him to play within his fundamentals instead of trying to look good doing a job he’s already good at.
#80 Keith Petruzzelli: Petruzzelli is as big as Gylander, standing 6’6″ and a lanky 186 pounds, and there is more polish and poise to his game, as there should be. There are also some holes where Petruzzelli continues to “reach,” and as someone going into his junior year at Quinnipiac, he’s going to wrestle the starting job away from whoever competes against him by playing a with a little more swagger, a little more confidence, and a little more patience.
Petruzzelli is the kind of player I would love to see be able to participate in the fall prospect tournament, because the goalies actually get a fair amount of specialized coaching during the prospect tournament and main training camp, and the more Petruzzelli can absorb, the better a “project goalie” he’ll be. For now, and until/unless he’s able to play as a starter and turn pro, he’ll have to make due with the visits that coaches Salajko and Mahoney-Wilson make, and he’ll have to find a competitive fire in his game that I haven’t seen him display.
*=Free agent invite **=Grand Rapids Griffins contract
That’s Day 3 of 5. Friday and Saturday provide game situations, and it will be interesting to see what the days present in terms of different scenarios to observe.
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