The Red vs. White Game today, held at Centre ICE Arena and streamed on the Red Wings’ YouTube channel, was a little strange in more ways than one.
First, the game was supposed to take place over the course of 2 24-minute periods–with 20 minutes of stoppage time, and then 4 minutes of alternating power play time for one minute apiece (no one scored on any of the 8 special teams sessions)–but the game was tied 1-1 after 2 periods, so a 3rd 10-minute period was hastily added, and, when that resulted in no winner, a 5-man shootout determined the game’s final result.
Long story long, Mitchell Stephens scored a lovely breakaway goal for the red team, but Riley Barber tied the game at 1-1 from Kirill Tyutyayev; after Stephens scored his second goal, on a feed from Taro Hirose, Pius Suter deked his way past Moritz Seider to tie the game at 2-2, and, in the shootout, Lucas Raymond (on a deke-fest) and Vladislav Namestnikov (5 hole on Calvin Pickard) scored what ended up constituting the 3-2 shootout-winning tallies.
Here’s Fox Sports Detroit’s highlight clip from the game:
Perhaps most lucidly illustrating the pickle that COVID has us in, the rink was absolutely sold out and standing-room-only on Sunday (and the crowd was mostly unmasked) but the Red Wings’ players were not able to take their traditional end-of-game photo with the volunteers from the rink due to COVID protocols.
Without Dylan Larkin (neck), Marc Staal (healthy scratch) or Jakub Vrana (shoulder) in the lineup, it was somewhat ironic that Tyler Bertuzzi led the celebrations and team photo, all things considered…But we are where we are, and the most noteworthy unvaccinated NHL’er is also a key member of the team’s leadership corps, during a time when there’s something of a cold war between vaccinated and unvaccinated folks.
Anyway, as this was the Wings’ only scrimmage of training camp, I’d delicately suggest that there were, at times, heaping helpings of rust shed by each and every one of the Red Wings’ skaters, but the pace of play was crisp overall, and the game got better as it went along.
That wasn’t true for all of the skaters, but that part of the story will be told later on in this missive.
I should note that there were only a four skaters at this morning’s “Non-Red-White Players” practice: goaltender Kaden Fulcher spent quite a bit of time working with goaltending coach Brian Mahoney-Wilson, and Jared McIsaac (recovering from a concussion), try-out T-Bone Codd (recovering from an upper-body injury) and Jonatan Berggren (recovering from an upper-body injury) skated with Niklas Kronwall, Daniel Cleary, player development consultant (i.e. skills coach) Dwayne Blais and, for a period of time, Shawn Horcoff.
I thought it was particularly interesting that Wings GM Steve Yzerman took enough of an interest in the four players that he came down from his perch in the owners’ suite, walked past me (asking your Hawaiian-shirt-clad blogger where my jacket was; I responded, “I don’t believe in jackets!” and he laughed) and continued on toward the bench, where he stayed for about half of the four-man practice.
McIsaac left early, but Berggren and Codd worked on their shots and worked with Fulcher for the better part of an hour.
I suppose it’s also worth noting that, before the Red vs. White Game itself, Teams Red and White engaged in 40 minutes’ worth of breakouts, neutral zone regroups and 5-on-5 systems play.
Ultimately, the Red vs. White Game’s events took over as the narrative for the day, but Sunday was very much a work in progress for many of the Red Wings’ players, who are finishing up a lunch provided by the culinary institute from Northwestern Michigan College here in Traverse City as I type this entry.
#14 Robby Fabbri: Fabbri had something of an understated game, skating alongside likely linemate Pius Suter and potential linemate(?) Lucas Raymond. Fabbri didn’t do anything extraordinary, but the 5’11,” 183-pound center/wing still looks ready to work his way toward fulfilling his offensive potential. Not big, and not the strongest guy in the world, Fabbri relies on his skating and tenacity with his stick to win puck battles, he carries the puck up ice with resolve, he passes and sees the ice well, and he tucks home passes from playmaking centers. At 25, Fabbri is aiming for a 20-goal season with the Wings, and there’s nothing to suggest that he’ll fall short of his target.
#23 Lucas Raymond: Raymond has mostly displayed his status as a goal-scorer in the making over the course of training camp, but the 5’11,” 182-pound mighty mite spent quite a bit of time on Sunday proving that he’s an equally elite passer. Blessed with better skating skills than you might expect, the silkily smooth Raymond worked the puck back and forth with Suter and Fabbri at even strength, utilizing his defensemen as an outlet for pressure-packed situations, too, and Raymond’s ability to give-and-go, take and receive is a big reason why the 19-year-old should be able to excel in the AHL for as long as the Wings see fit to put Raymond there.
I’m not sure whether Raymond will play a full season for the Grand Rapids Griffins, or whether his offense–and the Wings’ need for said offense–will yield a promotion by mid-season. I do want to see how he holds up in heavy traffic against bigger and stronger players, but that’s what the exhibition season is for.
#24 Pius Suter: Suter scored a gorgeous goal on Sunday, skating around and then through both Moritz Seider and Adam Brubacher en route to a scoring a slick 5-hole goal, and it was the first glimpse of real play-driving offense from the 5’11,” 174-pound center this training camp. The 25-year-old is more than ready to provide a steady presence as an offensively-inclined second-line center for the Red Wings, and Suter is a seamless passer, but sometimes it’s worth remembering that he scored 14 goals in 55 games last season, too. The little skater that can is also surprisingly good at winning draws, yielding a puck possession forward who does his best to carry the puck through the middle of the ice, or distribute it to his teammates, and then he drives the middle lanes to head toward the net when possible.
#26 Riley Barber: Barber skated on a line with Kirill Tyutyayev and Kyle Criscuolo, but the stocky 6,’ 199-pound right wing definitely displayed the all-round game he utilized to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring last year. Strong and fast, Barber isn’t quite an NHL prospect at 27, but he posts a point per game at the AHL level, and the Grand Rapids Griffins will need his scoring this upcoming season. He plays with pace and he possesses good passing and shooting skills.
#27 Michael Rasmussen: Rasmussen skated on a line with Vladislav Namestnikov (who played center) and Adam Erne, and that very third line may constitute Detroit’s third line this upcoming season. If that’s the case, the 6’6,” 210-pound forward seems poised to finally skate in a full NHL season as a confident and capable two-way player. Rasmussen goes to the front of the net and stays there on the power play, but he’s just as importantly a capable skater and strong two-way player who wins one-on-one battles for the puck along the corners and in front of and behind both nets. Rasmussen looks confident and comfortable in his skin for the first time in a long time, too, and that’s great news for the 22-year-old
#42 Kyle Criscuolo: Criscuolo stands at 5’9″ and 175 pounds, and he projects as a foot soldier with skating speed on the Grand Rapids Griffins’ third line. The 29-year-old center is, in ideal circumstances, a point-per-every-other-game player at the AHL level, and he’s useful enough to be utilized at the NHL level as an in-a-pinch call-up, but where he works best is as a Grand Rapids Griffins.
#46 Chase Pearson: Pearson is probably headed to Grand Rapids as well, but the 6’3,” 202-pound center seems NHL-bound within the course of the next calendar year. The 24-year-old center can post nearly a point per game at the AHL level, but he knows he’s going to earn a paycheck as a professional hockey player as a shut-down center, and he excels at out-working and out-competing his competition, from one-on-one battles for the puck to faceoffs, to defensive stick battles and tangles in front of his own crease. Pearson skates very well for a player as absolutely built as he is, he is indeed strong and smart with his body and stick, and he loves working hard for his teammates’ sakes.
He worked with Dominik Shine and Turner Elson on a checking line.
#50 Dominik Shine**: Shine falls more along the lines of a Criscuolo-like player. The 28-year-old isn’t big at 5’11” and 180 pounds (maybe?), and he doesn’t post a ton of points at the AHL level, but he’s speedy, he’s tenacious, and he gets the job done as a foot soldier for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He’s not possessed with a massive shot or innate passing skills, but Shine works hard and he works within his stocky frame to out-compete his opponents.
#57 Turner Elson**: At 29, Turner Elson is looking to reestablish some scoring credentials after some up-and-down AHL campaigns. The 6,’ 191-pound center is, again, an AHL player who utilizes speed and leverage to make plays against bigger and stronger players, and he’s nearly hit 20 goals at the AHL level a couple of times, but the Griffins will rely upon him for secondary scoring, and it would benefit them greatly if he graduates from more than an AHL-level Darren Helm to a more consistent scorer.
#73 Adam Erne: Erne just looks plain old confident and sure of himself heading into this upcoming season, and that’s exciting given that last year was a break-out campaign for the 6’1,” 211-pound winger. At 26, and coming off an 11-goals-in-45-games campaign, Erne will look to double his goal-scoring numbers this upcoming season, and there’s no reason to believe that the budding power forward and one-time grinder can’t do it. Erne skates well, he’s got a hard, accurate shot, he goes to the front of the net to jam home rebounds and he’s an underrated passer with a big body that affords him the strength to win battles for the puck. He’s a very useful third-line player.
#79 Kirill Tyutyayev**: Tyutyayev had some WOW moments and some UGH moments on Sunday, which is as expected. The Grand Rapids Griffins-contracted forward is only 21, and the 5’10,” 176-pound Tyutyayev has dekes and dangles for days and the skating footwork to make opponents tremble in their hockey pants, but he doesn’t consistently utilize his immense offensive talent, and finding consistency of work ethic is his main goal in the AHL, perhaps more than proving that he can survive the 70-something-game grind and travel demands of the second-best league in the world. Let’s hope that Tyutyayev proves himself worthy of an NHL contract a year from this time. It’s gonna take a lot of hard work and determination for the supremely talented forward to put everything together.
#92 Vladislav Namestnikov: At 28, Namestnikov seems destined to center the Red Wings’ third line, and the 6,’ 180-pound center isn’t overly big by today’s NHL standards, but he’s got enough strength and leverage to win battles for the puck, he wins faceoffs, he skates really well, and I believe that there’s more scoring in Namestnikov than his recent resume indicates. Whether that proves to be true is up to Namestnikov in terms of bringing a consistent work ethic to the game.
#17 Filip Hronek: Hronek skated on a defensive pair with probable partner Danny DeKeyser, and Hronek continued to get frustrated at times, but, for the most part, he looked like the Red Wings’ default #1 defenseman. Hard-charging, willing to gap up on opponents and engage in physical battles for the puck via his skating, physical strength (with an edge to his game) and excellent stick, Hronek strips opponents of the puck more often than not, and once he achieves possession and control, Hronek can lug the puck up ice himself, he can distribute it well as a passer with good vision, and he’s got a wicked hard shot that he needs to utilize more regularly. A little less ice time this season should yield a little more from Hronek in terms of engagement and enthusiasm.
#20 Luke Witkowski: Witkowski worked with Dan Renouf for the first part of Sunday’s game, but as Renouf played more and more regularly in Marc Staal’s spot alongside Troy Stecher, Witkowski freelanced a bit, and that’s exactly what the 6’2,” 210-pound swing-man is designed to do. Playing an economic game, the big, heavy 31-year-old physically out-competes his opponents for the puck, though his stick is underrated in terms of its defensive abilities; he passes the puck up ice well enough for a third-pair defenseman, and he skates well enough to be utilized at two positions. He’s mostly used as an enforcer, however, and Witkowski fulfills that role with enthusiasm.
#21 Dan Renouf: As I’ve said previously, the 27-year-old Renouf is looking to be relevant again, and the 6’2,” 210-pound defensemen did a good job of illustrating his assets working first alongside Witkowski, and then Troy Stecher. Renouf is a very good skater who works hard to play an efficient game, and, at this point, there isn’t much of a hint of the offensive game he displayed during college, but he’s posted multiple 20-point AHL campaigns, which are pretty good campaigns, and he doesn’t score many goals, but his shot does generate scoring chances, he pushes the puck up ice well, and he skates well enough that he kept up with the elegant-skating Stecher for the most part.
#44 Donovan Sebrango: Sebrango had a surprisingly quiet game among the veterans, which was a little surprising given how bombastically the 19-year-old defender played during the prospect tournament and over the course of three training camp practices. The 6’1,” 194-pound stay-at-home defender mostly blocks shots with his body and passes with his stick, he plays a steady and physical game, and he disperses scoring chances instead of creating them, but there are moments that the young defenseman will lug the puck up the ice with gusto, fire a heavy shot at the net, or engage in nasty physical battles with opponents, sometimes resulting in fisticuffs. The more the Griffins-bound, middle-pair Swiss Army Knife defenseman plays, the more professional potential he will display.
#65 Danny DeKeyser: Because the 31-year-old is so very skinny at 6’3″ and only 183 pounds, the lanky defender has to use his skating skills and stick to out-smart his opponents instead of overwhelming them with strength, but DeKeyser, when he’s healthy, does a good job of serving as Filip Hronek’s simple stay-at-home foil, mostly because his skating is excellent in all three directions. He does get overpowered in one-on-one battles from time to time, but working with Hronek provides him something of a safety net.
#70 Troy Stecher: Stecher is a third-pair defenseman, but the 27-year-old may be the Red Wings’ best skater on the blueline, in terms of his forward speed, his lateral mobility and his backward skating strength, as well as his edge work. When the 5’10,” 184-pound Stecher is at his best, the free-flowing defenseman both distributes the puck with aplomb and chooses to skate it up ice himself, using his skating skills to deke and dangle his way toward offense. He’s stocky enough to manage physically, but he could still use a little cleaning up of his defensive game, and a little more consistency in terms of winning those puck battles along the boards.
#84 Alex Cotton: Cotton, a 2020 draft pick, has played this far into Red Wings training camp because the 6’2,” 190-pound defenseman has proven to be an excellent skater whose point-per-game status as a WHL defenseman has slowly but steadily lived up to more and more hype over the course of a slow prospect tournament and a much better training camp. He’s establishing himself as one of the Wings’ brighter prospects on defense, all before heading back to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for his 19-going-on-20-year-old season.
#34 Victor Brattstrom: Brattstrom continued to flail around the net a little too much for my liking in game action, but the technician of a netminder whose game tends to go a little sideways during competition did show some maturity in terms of his work with the Red Wings’ goaltending and skill development coaches. The 6’4,” 200-pound goaltender is coming over from Sweden and Finland’s pro leagues with a measured butterfly game, using his massive frame, strong glove and blocker and expert toes to play a polished pro game that needs a little more calmness. He’ll find his North American form as he battles Calvin Pickard for the starter’s spot in Grand Rapids this year.
#39 Alex Nedeljkovic: Nedeljkovic wasn’t perfect on Sunday, but he was pretty close. The 6,’ 203-pound goaltender did a very good job of ramping up his play to near-preseason levels while playing in front of a lean defensive corps, and the small-by-today’s-standards goaltender worked his tail off to get to the top of his crease and utilize his impeccable technique to make hard saves look relatively routine. He’s blessed with a great glove, strong blocker and stick skills, smart toes and knees and a butterfly that presents an upright chest to the shooter, and he can be both patient and aggressive as the situation dictates. If he can play consistently well this upcoming season, the Red Wings will be a better team for his efforts.
#11 Filip Zadina: Zadina worked on a line with Joe Veleno subbing for Dylan Larkin and his usual linemate in Tyler Bertuzzi, and while the 21-year-old Zadina still seemed to let frustration get the best of him at times, the 6,’ 197-pound winger still looks poised to break out offensively this upcoming season. He’s got an array of shots in his sneaky wrist, good snap and heavy slap shots, as well as a booming one-timer from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. He skates hard and fast and charges toward the puck, battles his way toward possession and creates scoring chances when he’s got the puck, and his passing skills are underrated, as is his ability to hold his own in the corners and behind the opposition net. He’s just got to find more consistency of focus and a less self-defeating demeanor as he matures into a full-time NHL’er who should blossom alongside Larkin.
#22 Mitchell Stephens: There have been some questions as to whether Stephens would or could earn the fourth line center’s spot on the Wings’ roster, and the 24-year-old reminded us all that he’s not just a defensive center on Sunday. Stephens has point-per-game OHL and point-per-every-other-game AHL seasons to his credit, and the speedy 5’11,” 190-pound center can indeed strip opponents of the puck and/or break in on his own to score goals from time to time. Mostly, he’s been very good defensively, and very speedy in terms of his pursuit of the puck, winning draws and battles for the puck while back-checking superbly…
But he’s a two-way player, and that’s what the Red Wings hope to have acquired in their trade with Tampa Bay–somebody who’s more than just another speedy checking forward. Here’s hoping that his scrimmage performance was a glimpse of things to come.
#25 Taro Hirose: Hirose and Bobby Ryan skated together on Mitchell Stephens’ line, with Hirose earning an assist on one of Stephens’ goals. The 25-year-old Hirose just isn’t big at 5’10” and 162 pounds, and Taro will never win a Strongest Man title, but he possesses excellent passing skills, and he’s getting better as a skater, so there is still hope that the former Michigan State University stand-out can and will reestablish himself as a slithery passing presence that qualifies as a Red Wings prospect again. He’s got to play consistently and use his passing and speed to his advantage to accomplish his goal.
#37 Carter Rowney: Rowney also had a very good scrimmage, working on a team with thirteen forwards, and skating on the PK with Stephens. The 32-year-old still projects as a depth player, and probably a Grand Rapids Griffin, but the 6’2,” 208-pound Rowney is big, strong, reasonably fast and he’s managed to stick in the NHL for the past three seasons because he’s got an impeccable work ethic. We’ll see whether Rowney, who’s a bust-his-ass grinder, proves to be skilled enough stick with the Wings ahead of…
#48 Givani Smith: This guy. Givani Smith, who stands at 6’2,” and 215 pounds. The 23-year-old Smith is out of waiver options, so the big, strong and tough power forward and instigator needs to stick among the Wings’ final 13. Smith is wearing the non-CCM gloves and using the non-CCM stick of a guy who believes that he won’t be demoted to the AHL again (with True gloves and a Bauer stick, respectively), and if he has a good preseason, the plucky Smith will remain a Wing…But I’m not in the company that believes that Smith is a guaranteed waiver loss, so I would not be surprised if the Red Wings demote Smith if he does not perform. Scrimmages are not the greatest realms of performance for players who intend to inflict pain upon their opponents, so Givani didn’t stand out; we’ll see whether he wins or loses his job based upon his preseason performance.
#51 Hayden Verbeek**: I was impressed with Verbeek’s speed during the prospect tournament and main camp, but boy, does the 5’10,” 187-pound center move. The Griffins-contracted Verbeek was all speed on Sunday, just racing up and down the ice, and while the 23-year-old projects to be a defensive center and/or third-line forward at the AHL level, Verbeek’s hustle has been evident throughout. Skating only takes you so far; his hands, in terms of shooting and passing abilities, keep up with his feet, but only just.
#54 Bobby Ryan*: I’m just not sure whether Ryan, currently a free agent try-out, is going to be able to crack the roster in a top-nine role. There’s no doubt that the 34-year-old can shoot the damn puck with power and precision; his slap, snap and wrist shots are excellent, as is his one-timer, and he has an uncanny knack for skating into open areas to generate scoring opportunities…But the 6’2,” 208-pound winger is slow by today’s NHL standards, albeit maneuverably slow. Ryan is aiming for an NHL contract here or somewhere else, and it’s hard to see him not earning one somewhere...I just don’t know whether the Wings are that “somewhere.”
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi: Bertuzzi will probably draw more ire from fans, perhaps justifiably so, when or if he’s given an alternate captain’s “A,” because there is no doubt that the popular Bertuzzi is a leader on the team, and there is no doubt that Bertuzzi will not be able to do his job at least 9 times this upcoming season.
That being said, Bertuzzi, all 6’1″ and 197 pounds of him, has the spunk and resolve in his game that you hope for, he’s vocal, he skates hard, plays with grit, and he can score 20 goals and put up 50 points at the NHL level because he’s got a great shot, good passing skills, and he can help drive play because he’s a tenacious forechecker and puck-retriever.
The Wings have some hard decisions to make about Bertuzzi because of non-hockey-decisions that have become hockey decisions.
#63 Jon Martin**: Big, heavy, useful at the AHL level. The Grand Rapids Griffins inked the 6’2,” 215-pound Martin to a contract because the 26-year-old had a great season in Germany last year, and Martin is a combination of point-per-every-other-game AHL center and penalty minute-per-game player, which is exactly what the Griffins need on their second or third line. I thought that Martin was efficient but unspectacular in the scrimmage, skating with Tyler Spezia or Dennis Yan alongside Hayden Verbeek as their center.
#67 Dennis Yan**: Yan is a bit of a puzzle to me. The 24-year-old had all of an OK season in the Austrian league last year, but the Grand Rapids Griffins inked him to a deal because the 6’2,” 192-pound winger has a point-per-game resume at the QMJHL level, and he’s not too old to reclaim that status while providing the Griffins or Walleye with depth. His hands are fast, he’s speedy, and he skates well, but Yan’s play hasn’t screamed much more than, “Yeah, okay, he’s a passable AHL’er” over the course of training camp.
#76 Tyler Spezia**: Spezia, on the other hand, is a different kind of beast. At the ECHL level, the 5’10,” 167-pound forward is a point-per-game player, and the undersized forward stood out, like Verbeek, for his pure speed on Sunday. He’s a heart-and-soul part of the Toledo Walleye, and organizations need to have support players who excel at lower levels to provide balance throughout their depth chart.
#89 Sam Gagner: Gagner skated on a line with Givani Smith and Carter Rowney, and he did not look out of place–and I mean that in a good way, because it turns out that both Smith and Rowney can skate, and play hard. Gagner is, at this point in his career, a 3rd or 4th line forward who occasionally flashes elite skill. But the 32-year-old veteran takes no prisoners, and that’s not always evident because he doesn’t play a particularly tenacious game. Still, he finds a way to separate opponents from the puck, he is a good defensive forward, and he is, to some extent, excellent at being a two-way defensive forward who you don’t notice very much. Sometimes those support players are also key participants at the NHL level.
#90 Joe Veleno: Veleno was the de-facto first line center on Sunday, and it was both evident that he was not Dylan Larkin, and evident that Veleno should enter the conversation as a top-six player in the making. The 6’1,” 206-pound center hasn’t yet displayed the kind of point-per-game performances he authored in the QMJHL at the AHL or NHL levels, but, at 21, the big and hefty Veleno does more than dominate in physical battles for the puck–he’s got a hard shot, he’s a headsy playmaker and he can carry the puck up ice with authority, generating scoring chances via puck possession in the offensive zone. He’s got very good skating skills, too…
And he probably needs a good half to full season in the AHL, playing with Berggren and Raymond, ideally, to generate the kind of offensive confidence he needs to score at the NHL level.
#2 Nick Leddy: The Wings’ Red Team went with 7 defensemen on Sunday, and everybody played with everybody, but it was evident that when players skated alongside the 30-year-old Leddy, they were better.
I can’t give the guy a higher compliment. At 6′ and 205 pounds, Leddy is big and strong, he’s got a great stick in terms of jabbing away scoring chances as well as passing and shooting with aplomb, he carries the puck up ice well, and he covers up for a lot of mistakes that his defensive partners make because he skates so damn well forward, backward and laterally. Leddy knows how to gap up on opponents, too, and he can take the initiative, as illustrated by his status as a 30-to-45-point-producer at the NHL level, but his status as an eraser is just as important.
#28 Gustav Lindstrom: Lindstrom is 22 now, and at 6’2″ and 183 pounds, he’s no small potato, but in my eyes, he’s still relatively young, and I imagine Lindstrom will need one more AHL season before graduating to the NHL on a full-time basis. He had a great scrimmage–he was demonstrative, determined and smart–he skated superbly, he broke up scoring chances and he authored his own with his great passing and good shooting skills, and he just looked comfortable in his own skin out there after having bounced around between NHL, AHL and Swedish Allsvenskan over the past three years. He’s a little bit like DeKeyser in that he’ll win more physical battles with a good stick and leverage than he will via brute physical strength, so the smarter he plays, the more effective he becomes.
#32 Brian Lashoff: Lashoff is another player that you need to have in your organization. The 31-year-old was very briefly traded to Columbus and then Tampa Bay in that odd David Savard trade last season, but he’s such an integral part of the Grand Rapids Griffins, as their captain, that the Lightning agreed to not send him to Syracuse. The 31-year-old is a depth defenseman at the NHL level, someone who you call up in a pinch because the 6’3,” 215-pound Lashoff is a no-fuss-no-muss third pair guy, but at the AHL level, he’s absolutely crucial to the Grand Rapids Griffins’ leadership group. Lashoff leads by example, and while he doesn’t post a lot of points, he is ultra-competitive, he plays with a sense of self-control, and he wins battles for the puck, he jabs away scoring chances, and he serves as Grand Rapids’ Swiss Army Knife on the blueline.
#47 Wyatt Newpower: The Red Wings signed the 6’3,” 207-pound Newpower because the right-shooting defenseman had impressed them enough at both the University of Connecticut and the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters to warrant a contract as a 23-year-old; thus far, I’ve seen steadiness, physical panache and a bit of Sebrango-like self-confidence from Newpower, but I’ve seen his play tail off a bit in training camp. He was rock solid during the prospect tournament, but among NHL’ers, he’s had ups and downs, despite his solid skating and really physical game. At the moment, he probably plays alongside someone like Lashoff in the AHL, and learns his trade, with more hopefully to come.
#53 Moritz Seider: Coach Blashill was blunt about Moritz Seider, who hasn’t played in a meaningful game since April: he had a good first period, and it was downhill after that (in no small part because the Grand Rapids Griffins’ coaches rotated seven defensemen [while Blashill watched from ice level and then upstairs], yielding no Nick Leddy for Seider to fall back upon).
That’s okay. Seider’s trajectory toward NHL stardom is not going to have a completely linear path, and, given that this was his first NHL-or-AHL-level game since 2019-2020, and his first game at all since early April, some hiccups were expected. Seider, a lanky 6’4″ and 197 pounds and all of 20 years of age, let Pius Suter by him (to be fair, Suter also skated through Adam Brubacher) for a goal, and Seider–in my opinion–deferred to his defensive partners too much, especially later in the game…
But his talent is evident. He’s an elite skater in all three directions, forward, backward and laterally, all but gobbling up ice; his lanky reach affords him an active stick with which to block passes and shots; we already know that he is physical, though he didn’t display his panache for hitting on Sunday, and his gap control is good…In the offensive zone, Seider can unleash a heavy shot of his own, or easily control play when passing to teammates, both forwards and fellow defensemen, and he’s usually on the move. All to the good!
But Seider IS going to have to adjust to NHL-level competition, and he’s probably going to make some mistakes along the way. We all will hope that they are minor instead of major, infrequent, and quickly learned from.
#82 Jordan Oesterle: Oesterle sort of does his thing out there, and his thing is useful, no-frills all-round defense. At 29 years of age, the 6,” 188-pound defenseman does a good job of getting from spot to spot because he’s a seamless skater, he passes and shoots well, he checks his opponents and he just…blends into the woodwork. He’s posted 20 points at the NHL level, which is not bad by anyone’s standards, but in Detroit, he projects to be a third-pair or #7 defenseman who simply steps into the lineup and provides a steady presence.
#86 Adam Brubacher*: The free agent try-out showed some chops on Sunday, and he illustrated why he’s still looking around for work when Pius Suter walked through Brubacher like he wasn’t even there. The 6’5,” 202-pound Brubacher is massive and experienced at 25, he’s got a superb stick in terms of breaking up passes and scoring chances against, and he’s physical, but he stayed in college until he was 23, and played for the Manitoba Moose last season, so he doesn’t have much of a pro resume. He will land somewhere as he’s been too good to not give some professional team a steady stay-at-home defender; whether they saw the Suter goal on Sunday, well, that’s a story for another day.
#29 Thomas Griess: Greiss was solid and unspectacular in the Red team’s net, which is exactly what the Red Wings need from the 35-year-old. Big and heavy at 6’2″ and 219 pounds, Greiss is a bit of a man mountain in the net, and he utilizes an effective, efficient butterfly style to stifle shooters. Greiss has a great glove, good blocker, fast toes and a big blocking surface, and the only fault he has is that he occasionally gives up an odd squeaker.
#31 Calvin Pickard: Pickard’s only blemishes were in the shootout, where Lucas Raymond deked him out, and Vladislav Namestnikov found his five-hole. At his best, the 29-year-old Pickard replicates his 50-game season with the Avs, playing solid, unspectacular hockey, essentially issuing stay-at-home defense in goal. That is to say that Pickard possesses able glove and blocker hands, fine pads and a solid, steady and simple style…But there are moments when his concentration can waiver at the NHL level, and that’s where his save percentage is not spectacular. Pickard’s five-hole can be a weak spot, as can his blocker hand, and when the pucks go through him, sometimes things pile up. As such, he’s best-suited to AHL duty for now, and he’s got a real challenger in Victor Brattstrom.
Both goalies are technicians, and both goalies have inconsistencies of form which have prevented them from earning NHL employment on a consistent basis. Here’s hoping that changes–for both goaltenders.
*= free agent try-out, **= Grand Rapids Griffins contract
This was the first and last scrimmage of training camp. The Red Wings will practice and work on on-ice conditioning (read: they may have to engage in the dreaded skating test) on Monday, and then they practice flat-out on Tuesday.
After Tuesday’s practice at Centre ICE Arena, they’ll fly or drive back to Detroit for a Wednesday morning skate and afternoon flight to Chicago for the preseason opener. They play their first preseason game at home on Thursday (to be streamed on the Wings’ YouTube channel). Then they get a day off, and play 6 exhibition games in 8 October nights.
It will be a wild and woolly time of year, and I’m going to need to take a day here and there to recharge my batteries after working 12-to-14 hour days, but I’ll try to keep with it as best I can as TMR returns to Southeastern Michigan. I miss my aunt and I miss my home, but there are two days to go, and we’ll see what happens after that.
In the interim, yes, I am still raising funds. I am still in need of gas and grocery money, the cell phone replacement is going to hurt because my credit score is a single digit (yay college loans!), and the brakes on the Pacifica are starting to sound rusty.
Life is life, and a commercial-free blog means that we’re always fundraising. If you’re willing to lend a hand in exchange for my training camp coverage–or to keep TMR operational–you can use Paypal at https://paypal.me/TheMalikReport, Venmo at https://venmo.com/george-malik-2, Giftly by using my email, email@example.com, at https://www.giftly.com, and yes, you can contact me via email if you want to send me a paper check.