When it comes to prospects, name recognition plays a big part. Every hockey fan, and even some scouts, have that moment where they sit down to watch a game and they see a familiar name. "I wonder if there's any relation to..." Standard questions. Sometimes, you don't even need to see much beyond the style of play to realize that the players are definitely related.
Some scouts say this is the case with Landon Ferraro, a name that should be familiar to anyone who at all followed hockey from 1984 to 2001. Landon is the son of Ray Ferraro, who played over 1,200 games and scored over 400 goals with five different NHL teams. He was even a big-time scorer in juniors, scoring 108 goals among 192 points in 1983-84. After he hung up the skates, he put on his analyst hat and has been a regular on ESPN and NBC, as well as SportsNet and TSN in Canada and color commentary for Edmonton and Vancouver.
Landon was born in Canada, but grew up playing his youth hockey in the United States, mostly in Atlanta and Los Angeles. He eventually moved back to Canada to play at a higher level. His prolific goal scoring ability got him noticed around the WHL, and he was drafted 2nd overall in 2006 by the Red Deer Rebels.
In his draft year, Landon scored 37 goals, good for 22% of all goals scored by Red Deer that season. For all intents and purposes, he was Detroit's first round pick this past June. Detroit traded the 29th overall pick to 32, picking up an extra third-rounder along the way. With the second pick of the second round, they selected Ferraro -- someone they felt was a definite first round talent.
This week, Winging it in Motown was lucky enough to sit down with him. We talked about bouncing back from an injury with a recent hot streak, having an NHL player as a father, and a conversation with a Red Wings' legend at the draft that may have been a bit of a hint.WIM: You’ve been in and out of the lineup all season, but have been heating up recently. How have you been feeling, and do you think you’re fully recovered?
FERRARO: That was the main thing at the beginning of the year. I got hurt in our second game. I tried to keep playing, but like you said, I was in and out of the lineup. I came down to Detroit and they looked at it, then I went home and rested and got a lot of treatment. I strengthened it, to make sure when I came back after Christmas I was ready to go. Since I’ve been back, my knee’s felt as good as it has been, ever. I wear a brace which keeps it really sturdy. It doesn’t make me think about my knee at all while I’m playing now. I have a lot of confidence again, and my skating has gone back to the way it always has been. I’ve been really confident. I’m shooting a lot of pucks, and my line has been doing pretty well since I’ve been back.
WIM: What’s been the biggest difference this season compared to last year for Red Deer’s success?
FERRARO: It’s just a bit more experience. We have guys back who were here last year that were rookies. It’s a hard year in your first year in the league. You’re trying to get used to, not only the speed and the overall competitiveness of the league, but also you go from playing 50 games in midget to 72. It adds quite a bit to the toll on your body. This year we’re more experienced, and we brought in some players that have really helped us on the offensive and defensive side of things. Our systems are more automatic. We don’t have to think about them as much. It’s been nice now that we have everyone. We play four lines that we can rely on, and it’s worked out well this year so far.
WIM: How would you describe your style of play, for Red Wings fans who haven’t seen you play?
FERRARO: I try to use my speed. Speed has always been my greatest asset. I think I use my head pretty well on the ice. I get to areas that pucks just seems to pop out to. I get a lot of goals right around the net. When I try to make a play, I hope I can beat a guy with my speed and get the puck back and get it to the net. This past year, going into my draft year, I really focused on my defensive side. Growing up, it was never really a thought in my mind. I always thought I should try to score and get points. I’ve really focused on that, and I’m starting to play the PK this year a lot more. I’ve been taking a lot more faceoffs in our own zone. I’ve really made sure I’ve practiced that a lot. I just try to use my speed and open up lanes as I go.
WIM: What have you been working on improving in your game this season?
FERRARO: This season’s been a bit of a mess, as you know, with my injury. Since I’ve been back, I make sure as soon as I get on the ice, I try to get a puck on my stick and handle it. It’s hard not playing for a while. You start to feel like it’s the beginning of summer again where you haven’t handled the puck in a while. I’ve been working on taking a lot of shots and trying to stickhandle as much as I can. Being in your own zone, though, it’s not something that’s too hard to do, but you have to take pride in it. I’ve talked to Jesse Wallin, the coach here, a lot about it. He’s keeping me honest with it and making sure if it slips one game that I know about it. He makes sure that I focus on it the next game. He explained to me that all your offense comes through your defense. Since I’ve been playing better defense I’ve noticed that I’m down lower when I get the puck, coming with speed instead of a standstill attacking a defenseman. It’s really opened up the ice. I’m getting to play with Willie Coetzee, who signed this year out of camp with Detroit. He’s another really fast player, that has one of the best shots in our league. When we get 2-on-2s and 3-on-2s using our speed, we’re really effective.
WIM: On the note of Jesse Wallin, what does it mean to have him coaching you when he’s been through the Wings’ system before?
FERRARO: He knows exactly what’s expected out of a Wings’ player, or a prospect trying to come up into their system. He’s a coach who’s not guessing at what their expecting. He’s been through the minors, he’s played there, he’s won a Cup with them. He knows exactly what they want out of me. He obviously has close ties with some of the players and the front office. They talk, and we talk to make sure I’m doing everything I can to have a good year here and to, next year, come into the system and try to make a difference.
WIM: What was it like for you to grow up with your father playing in the NHL?
FERRARO: It’s something that I look back now and really appreciate it more than when I was younger. I didn’t really appreciate it until his last year, realizing that, I was only 11, it could be my last time around an NHL team. Just growing up and getting to be in the room after games, and every weekend we’d go to practice with him. If the team won a game we’d get to go in the room after, because all the guys were in a better mood. Getting to see how the players train and work so hard to stay in the league. It’s not ‘once you’re there, you’re there for sure.’ You have to keep working constantly to get better and make sure you’re productive. It’s something I look back on now and try to use to my advantage.
WIM: Does he give you any advice on your game, or now that you’re at a high level does he leave it up to your coaches?
FERRARO: He leaves it up to my coaches, but at the same time it’s too hard for him not to give advice. He played for 18 years and has some pretty good insight. He gets to as many games as he can, and he watches the rest on the WHL webcasts. If he sees something little here and there, he’ll give me some pointers. For the most part, he knows when he should say something to help me out, or leave it to the coaches.
WIM: Moving on to the draft, did you have any strong indications that Detroit might take you?
FERRARO: To be honest, no, not really. I knew I had a good meeting at the combine, but other than that, I didn’t really talk to them too much. The draft was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. I sat there the whole first day watching teams that I knew really liked me. Then the draft went a little bit different. There’s guys taken, and then there’s guys on team’s lists that were one or two spots above me, so I slipped to the second day. After that, I knew I had a good chance of going to Detroit. I knew they liked me. It was kinda hard not to get excited again. I was on the bus to the rink the morning of the draft, and Steve Yzerman was on the bus. He said hi to my dad, and he said hi to me. He looked at me and gave me a smile. He kind of said, "Don’t worry, enjoy it. It’s going to be a good day for you." I didn’t think much of it then because I was still pretty nervous, but after I was kind of laughing about it.
WIM: What were your impressions of the city and the organization after your first camp?
FERRARO: It was everything I thought, and more. They took care of us so well. I couldn’t pick one bad thing, or one thing I was disappointed with when I got there. All the staff and coaches were extremely nice. They were trying to teach us as much as they could in our summer camp. Getting to meet all of the guys, and getting to go through our first pro camp together with some of the guys who had been there for a couple years. You know, I got to talk to them, and it was a really good experience.
WIM: Obviously you haven’t had a normal season, having to come to Detroit to rehab your knee, but how closely do the Wings work with you in Red Deer and monitor your development?
FERRARO: I talked to Jiri Fischer a couple times, and he makes it up here. He’s been up here twice now. I’ve only been here for one of them because I was hurt. They come up and they talk to us everyone once in a while to see how we’re doing and make sure we’re on the right path. Any questions we have, they’ll answer for us. They give us pointers here and there and tell us what they’re expecting out of us. You know exactly what they expect out of you. It’s pretty nice, it makes it easier.
WIM: Did you think at all about playing college hockey, having lived in the United States while your father was still playing?
FERRARO: I grew up always wanting to go to Wisconsin. Like you said, I grew up in the States and was there for most of my childhood. I didn’t even know what the WHL was. I was living in Los Angeles and Atlanta, and that’s pretty far away from up here. They don’t really talk about the Western Hockey League at all, or any of the CHL. I grew up wanting to play for Wisconsin. I came up here, and that was still my goal. As I got into bantam, I was watching more Vancouver Giant games, and I saw how good the league was. I got to talk to players that I knew in the league and heard how much they liked it. For me, one of the key decisions was that you play 72 games, and it’s the closest to a professional hockey league season. I thought that was the league that would get me most ready to make the NHL. Talking to my dad, he enjoyed his time in the league, and I made up my mind.
WIM: What do you feel you’ll need to improve most on to be a successful professional player?
FERRARO: I need to improve everything. That’s the best thing about this game. There’s not one person anywhere that doesn’t need to improve anything. You need to constantly be working on different stuff. Mainly for me, right now, my body needs to mature. I need to put on some weight and some strength. Right now, I’m 174 pounds, and if I played against anyone in the NHL, I’d probably get pushed around. I just need to gain more strength. With more strength comes more speed. I need to get my shot better, and learn to play the game at a higher tempo.
American Hockey League
|3||Logan Pyett||Grand Rapids||43||6
||1G, -3, 5PIM in 3GP
||12 points since 12/4
|4||Travis Ehrhardt||Grand Rapids||26||0||4||4||-9||26||-3 in 2GP
|5||Jakub Kindl||Grand Rapids||39||3||16||19||-6||32||-3, 2PIM in 3GP
|7||Sebastien Piche||Grand Rapids||9||0||0||0||-1||4||Playing in Toledo (ECHL)|
|8||Cory Emmerton||Grand Rapids||43||7
||+4||14||-3 in 2GP
|9||Evan McGrath||Grand Rapids||42||8
||15||-12||18||1A, -2, 2PIM in 2GP
|12||Dick Axelsson||Grand Rapids||17||2||3||5||+1||6||Playing in Farjestad (SEL)|
|13||Jan Mursak||Grand Rapids||45||17||8||25||+10||17||-2 in 3GP
||No points in 7 games
|17||Francis Pare||Grand Rapids||44||8
||-2, 4PIM in 3GP
|18||Mattias Ritola||Grand Rapids||39||10||9||19||-7||36||-1, 2PIM in 2GP
|25||Jamie Tardif||Grand Rapids||44||10||7||17||-9||58||-1, 5PIM in 3GP
|27||Tomas Tatar||Grand Rapids||30
||10||11||21||+9||6||-2 in 2GP
|28||Sergei Kolosov||Grand Rapids||40
||1||3||4||-4||17||-3 in 3GP
|31||Daniel Larsson||Grand Rapids||30
||.899||0-2, GAA, up, sv% down
|35||Thomas McCollum||Grand Rapids||19||7||8
||0||3.46||.875||0-1, GAA up, sv% down
|36||Jordan Pearce||Grand Rapids||5||1||2||0||3.82||.875||Playing in Toledo (ECHL)
|20||Travis Ehrhardt||Toledo||3||1||1||2||+4||0||Playing in Grand Rapids|
|25||Sebastien Piche||Toledo||20||3||8||11||+4||28||-3, 5PIM in 3GP
|30||Thomas McCollum||Toledo||4||2||1||0||4.48||.864||Playing in Grand Rapids|
|35||Jordan Pearce||Toledo||18||8||9||1||3.73||.884||0-1, GAA up, sv% down|
||4PIM in 2GP
||No pts for 2nd week all season
|7||Max Nicastro||Boston U.||22||1||7||8||22||2GP
||3rd in team D scoring
|16||Nick Oslund||St. Cloud St.||26||4||4||8||20
||2PIM in 2GP
||2PIM in 2GP
|89||Gustav Nyquist||Maine||22||13||19||32||12||Maine did not play
||1G, 2A, +3, 2PIM in 3GP
||4||6||10||-12||4||-3 in 3GP
||Team worst +/-|
|18||Joakim Andersson||Frolunda||44||5||11||16||+8||34||1A, +1, 2PIM in 3GP
||Heating up past month
|24||Jesper Samuelsson||Timra||23||0||1||1||+0||8||Playing in SWE-2
||2PIM in 3GP
||2A, +1, 2PIM in 3GP
||4A in last 6GP
|16||Johan Ryno||AIK||31||5||8||13||+6||22||1G, +1, 2PIM in 3GP
|--||Adam Almqvist||Troja/Ljungby||0||0||0||0||0||0||Playing with HV71 (SEL)|
Swedish J20 League
|4||Adam Almqvist||HV71||15||5||29||34||+14||14||Playing with HV71 (SEL)|
Kontinental Hockey League
|21||Gennady Stolyarov||HC MVD||0||0||0||0||0||0||Behind schedule on injury
|26||Jiri Hudler||Moscow Dynamo||40
||2nd in team scoring|
Ontario Hockey League
||11||+0||0||1A in 1GP||First game since 11/22
||Traded to Windsor
Western Hockey League
|9||Brent Raedeke||Edmonton||39||17||14||31||+4||60||Traded to Brandon|
||3A, 8PIM in 4GP
|13||Landon Ferraro||Red Deer||30
||19||29||-6||36||2G, 2A, +1 in 2GP
||Only went 1 game in Jan with 0 pts
|19||Willie Coetzee||Red Deer||49||21||44||65||+8||20||1G, 3A, +1 in 2GP
||8th in league scoring|
||16||23||39||+2||116||3G, 1A, +1, 2PIM in 3GP
||3rd on team in +/-
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
|14||Gleason Fournier||Rimouski||40||8||25||33||+4||64||2G, -4 in 3GP
United States Hockey League
|6||Nick Jensen||Green Bay||30||0||12||12||+18||10||+2 in 2GP