Traverse City — Maybe it’s because all 11 draft picks from the 2017 NHL Draft class are here, players who two weeks ago weren’t even officially in the NHL.
But because of that, the Red Wings’ development camp has a particularly youthful feel to it and forward Givani Smith is almost an old man in comparison.
A 2016 second-round pick, Smith is in his second development camp and has almost taken more of a mentor role during the five-day camp.
“I’m older,” said Smith, 19, with a slight smile. “We have 11 new draft picks, all new guys, younger guys. Without guys like (Tyler) Bertuzzi and (Zach) Nastasiuk (both Grand Rapids Griffins) in here, it kind of feels a little different.
“I kind of feel like an older guy in here — but it’s only my second camp.”
Any young prospect arriving to this camp comes in a little wide-eyed. It’s a camp run by an NHL organization, with pro coaching staffs and front office personnel all over the rink.
If any recent draft picks have questions, Smith is ready to provide guidance.
“I know what it was like last year, coming in and not knowing what to expect,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have someone here to talk to, someone you’re comfortable with.”
Smith spent the entire AHL playoffs with the Grand Rapids Griffins, practicing daily and soaking in the pro playoffs atmosphere.
“Real good,” Smith said of the entire experience. “It was a long run, and I was there, so it was good to see playoff hockey and see how it is.
“Everyone is finishing checks, hitting hard. It was a totally different game than junior (hockey). It was nice to go there and see it, watch it.”
Where Smith spends next season is up in the air.
It’s ironic, but in the NHL a player can go right in at the age of 18 if he’s good enough, but to play in the AHL, a player must be 20.
So out of training camp, if Smith doesn’t make the Red Wings — which would be a long shot, for sure — he’ll head back to his junior team in Guelph (Ontario League).
A rugged power forward, Smith (6-foot-2, 206 pounds) scored 26 goals in Guelph last season with 139 penalty minutes.
“It’s all about how fast I want to force their hand on making the team,” Smith said. “They gave me a timeline — finish junior, then prove yourself in the American League.
“Being a winger, it’s the little things, getting pucks out of the wall, and being a guy you can rely on to get pucks out late in the game.
“If you’re killing a penalty, getting pucks out, keeping (the puck) in the offensive zone, and creating offensive chances.”
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill talks about what separates players in development camp. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
Goaltender Keith Petruzzelli, one of the Red Wings’ third-round draft picks last month, continues to stand out.
At 6-foot-6, Petruzzelli is a gangly, athletic goalie who covers a lot of the net and because of his size, simply doesn’t give shooters a lot of room to shoot at.
The organization likes what it has seen thus far.
“Huge, huge,” Shawn Horcoff, director of player development, said of Petruzzelli. “Everyone likes goalies with size. When he goes down, there’s nothing to see.
“He’s got a real big upside.”
Petruzzelli made several nice glove saves during Sunday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
“He looked real good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s big, made lots of saves, and he seems to cover the net real well and plays efficiently and has the athleticism to make a big save when needs to.”
Sunday’s intrasquad scrimmage saw Team Zetterberg defeat Team Kronwall, 3-1, with the teams playing two 25-minute halves.
David Pope, Dominik Shine and Oliver Castleman (empty net) scored for the winners, while Tomas Dvorak had the lone Team Kronwall goal.
“The pace picked up and the physicality was there for a game in the summer,” Blashill said. “I did think it was physical and it was competitive.”
Michael Rasmussen, the Red Wings’ first-round draft pick last month, was held out of the scrimmage as a precaution.
Rasmussen fractured his wrist late last season in junior hockey, but has been practicing at full strength in the development camp.
Red Wings key dates
July 20-Aug. 4: Salary arbitration hearings.
Aug. 6: Deadline for salary arbitration decisions to be rendered.
Sept. 8-12: Prospects Tournament, Centre Ice Arena, Traverse City. Teams include Red Wings, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Wild, Blues and Rangers.
Sept. 15-18: Red Wings training camp, Centre Ice Arena.
Sept. 19: Preseason opener, at Boston, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23: First preseason home game, vs. Boston, 7 p.m. (First Red Wings game at Little Caesars Arena.)
Oct. 5: Regular-season and home opener, vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.