It’s the final day of Development Camp and there’s still lots of work to be done. The goalies again hit the ice before the skaters to get some position specific instruction. Coaches said go slow, it’s not a race. Move, find your balance, be solid, square up, and re-set. Their drills today focused on tracking the puck (looking) while moving with proper form, recovering, and finding the puck again (square up) and making the save. Before there were any pucks on the ice, the goalies went through the motions, guided by their coaches. Keith Petruzzelli got a bit of coaching on his form, and the details of his movement.
Here’s one example of the drills
I think Joren van Pottelberghe has been the biggest goalie surprise for me, because he’s so much improved from this time last year. He’s quicker, smoother, more controlled, more confident, and really looking great on the ice. I was expecting JVP from last year, what I saw instead was a whole new and improved JVP and I give him full credit for improving so drastically in a year.
First up, was a drill that required the defensemen to be quick, mobile, and move the puck. It started with a defenseman at the blue line skating backwards to pick up a puck and passing it to a forward who's in the neutral zone. The forward takes the puck into the offensive zone and shoots it on net. While he’s doing that, the first defenseman cycles back and gets another puck to feed up to a second forward in the neutral zone. The second forward then shoots on the goalie as well, and the defenseman skates to the offensive zone blue line and gets a puck from the coaches. While the two forwards screen the goalie, the defenseman has to try to score from the blue line. All of this is executed very quickly.
Vili Saarijarvi (#28), Dominik Shine (#63), Michael Rasmussen (#37)
For the second drill, I’m just going to show you, because I took up two pages in my notebook trying to diagram it and it’s almost illegible.
(Vili Saarijarvi (#28), Graham Slaggert (#32), and Jack Adams (#74)
Drill Number 3 was a “simple” 1 on 1 defenseman vs forward drill where the D man starts with his side facing the forward, so his first few steps are laterally to get into position. I’m going to let Vili Saarijarvi demonstrate three different ways to defend in this situation.
- Saarijarvi vs Graham Slaggert
5’10” 172# Saarijarvi vs 6’2” 193# Christoffer Ehn
5’10” 172# Saarijarvi vs 6’3” 200# Mattias Elfstrom
The Fourth drill was 3 on 1 practice with a defenseman starting out at the blue line while two forwards with the puck cross lanes and try to get a shot past the defenseman. After the forwards get a shot on net or the defender successfully defends the 2 on 1, the offensive defenseman is now defensive. They did two rounds of this drill and the second time Shawn Horcroff skated with the group and yelled helpful coach things at them.
Michael Rasmussen (#37), Christoffer Ehn (#45), Libor Sulak (#88), Malte Setkov (#86)
The final drill of the day was a fun cross ice 2 defensemen vs 2 forwards, where each duo was trying to score on the opposition and defend their own end. Michael Rasmussen didn’t participate in this drill as a precautionary measure for his wrist.
Here Vili Saarijarvi (#28), Patrick McCarron (#58), Jack Adams (#74) and David Pope (#11) Demonstrate.
And here Christoffer Ehn (#45) demonstrates that Zetterbergian puck protection I talked about earlier. He’s on the ice with Mattias Elfstrom (#56), Alex Peters (#53), and Malte Setkov (#86)
Finally, after all the drills and off ice workout is the exhausting drill where the skaters line up at a black line that’s between the blue and goal lines, skate as fast as they can to the opposing goal line and back to their black line. This is repeated three times, then they get a short break while the group at the other end of the ice does the drill. They do three reps that. By the end of the drill almost everyone is gassed and laying on the ice.
Coaches put #RedWings' prospects through skating drills at end of first session. Their average time was two seconds behind NHLers.— Brendan Savage (@BrendanSavage) July 11, 2017
This is in reference to the Team Kronwall (red) as they were the first group on the ice today. Last September in Training Camp the coaches put the players through this same drill and I’m guessing that’s what Savage is referencing.
Everyone starts out fresh and raring to go and by the last lap or two there’s a bit of spread between the players. At the end everyone is exhausted and sucking air on the ice.
Most of the players I expected to lead the way through this intense camp, did just that. Vili Saarijarvi, Dennis Cholowski, Keith Petruzzelli, and Michael Rasmussen were all fantastic. There were also some surprises, as Filip Hronek, Joren van Pottelberghe, Alex Peters, Dominik Shine, Christoffer Ehn, and David Pope all earned themselves some serious praise and admiration.
Going into an instructional camp, I usually expect that the older or returning players will standout more than the rest. At their ages, one year more of experience or instruction at a previous NHL camp, often makes a significant developmental difference. And that’s also part of the fun and mystery, will the expected prove true, or will someone unexpected come along and change things up?
This was a great camp and it was a blast to once again be here and get to share with you all some of the things I saw and learned. If there are any players I haven’t mentioned, or you have more questions about, please ask! If I didn’t talk about a player, it’s probably not an indication that they had a poor camp. Rather it’s more likely that I simply didn’t have time to write about them, or I wasn’t able to get a good read on them. I’d much rather tell someone I really don’t know about a prospect, rather than have someone think the player performed poorly because of a lack of information. I’m always happy to share what I know and think, even if it’s “I don’t really know”.
There will be more prospect news and videos coming in the future. Thank you all for coming with me on this fun ride.