Tomas Storm skating drills aren't the easiest way to start the day, but Team Yzerman started with them at 8 AM. Some of the drills as "simple" as skating from the goal to the opposite blue line only pushing with one foot, but they get progressively more challenging until the players are skating figure eights while being critiqued on form.
Darren Helm participated in the skating drills again and looked more comfortable and a little more confident than yesterday. This was only his second day skating in the last two months, and he's still taking it easy and not pushing too hard. He looked like he felt pretty good, and I even saw a smile. Darren Helm smiles have been hard to come be lately, so it was refreshing to see.
Jiri Fischer is still a very skilled man. Every time I get to watch him demonstrate a drill or challenge the players, I'm impressed with how talented he still is.
- Martin Frk looks a bit bigger than he did last year; it looks like he's put on some muscle. He was pretty un-noticeable yesterday. This morning it looked like he struggled a little during the skating drills. It wasn't noticeable early on, but as the drills became more complicated, his pace slowed down noticeably and I could tell he was concentrating more. Skating isn't his strongest asset and it was even more noticeable while he was on the ice with some of the more foot-skilled players. He looked "off" during the two and three man rush drills, but he looked much better during the cross ice "scrimmage" drills. He tends to hunch a lot, when he's skating, when he's working with the passing/shooting drills, even to some extent when he's "playing". His hunching looked much more natural during the "stand in front of the net and deflect shots in" drill (which I will henceforth refer to as the "Homer Drill"). I may start referring to him as The Hunchback from now on.
- For such a big man, Ildar Telykov is a surprisingly good skater. He's smooth, and while I haven't had the chance to see him at full speed, he still has decent speed, especially for someone 6'9" and 216 pounds. His skating asset, added to his enormous size and his wicked hard shot, make this free agent tryout someone to keep an eye (or two) on.
- Rasmus Bodin also did very well in the skating drills. He's a big player (6'6" 207) and he's much more coordinated and competent using his size than he was last year. His hand eye coordination is also very good. Of all the players who participated in the Homer Drill, he caught my attention (in a good way) the most.
- Phillippe Hudon was pretty much the opposite of Bodin on the Homer Drill. He also needs to work on keeping his composure while in front of the net while being hassled. Blashill and Fischer were jostling him in front of the net, and he did a decent job of using his size to keep position, but he tended to flail around and get his stick up (above his head). Blashill made sure to point that out and tell him to keep cool and keep his stick in control and in a place where it's more useful.
- During the Homer Drill, Zach Nastasiuk looked like... Well, like a guy standing in front of the net having pucks shot at him.
- I'm pretty sure that during the Homer drill, most of the pucks went into the net without actually touching Dominik Shine.
It's amazing how much difference there is in the skill level of shot deflecting and the net front skill between the newly drafted players, and those who have been Wings property for a couple years. The Tomas Holmstrom skill set is very valuable and he sometimes made it look easy, but it really is a difficult skill set to learn and master. I'm happy to see the Wings organization making it a focus with the prospects and starting to teach them the technique early on. They've also added some drills for the forwards where the players have to dig pucks out of the corners, get it back to the point, then go to the net and screen the goalie.
I uploaded a few videos from the morning practice here and I'll add more as I record and edit them.
Team Lidstrom is about to hit the ice for drills. I'll have more updates later.