The first-round draft pick talks about the development camp scrimmage and what it will take to make the team David Guralnick, The Detroit News
Detroit — Dennis Cholowski defended one zone with his teammates while a line consisting of Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Filip Zadina skated against him.
To a man, they said it was a lot of fun.
Not a lot one can tell from one scrimmage in the 2018 Red Wings development camp. But the quartet of key prospects for the Wings looked pretty good.
Zadina scored the winning goal for Team Howe, with an assist from Rasmussen in overtime, after Smith had tied it 6-all at 10:12 of the third period. Team Howe prevailed 7-6 over Team Lindsay in the annual development camp scrimmage.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” said Zadina, whom the Wings selected sixth overall in this month's Entry Draft, a model of nonchalance on the ice, after tallying the winner.
“For sure, I was kind of nervous. I had lots of opportunities to score, but I hadn’t scored.
“It finally came. So, I was happy.”
Rasmussen (first round 2017, 9th overall) also scored a goal and Zadina had another assist.
“Pretty easy to play with guys like that,” said Rasmussen of his linemates. “They’re scoring players and they know where to go and things like that.
“So, it was seamless for us. And, we’ve been practicing together all week, so it was easy for us.
“Really fun,” said Rasmussen, who will return to British Columbia and train for a couple of weeks, before coming back to Detroit in late July to continue preparing for camp. “I enjoyed it.”
Cholowski said he thought he gave a good accounting of himself.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” Cholowski said after his Team Lindsay lost to the Team Howe of Rasmussen, Smith and Zadina.
“The new guys looked good. I mean, it’s exciting for the organization, for sure.
“I thought I did pretty well,” said the 20-year-old from British Columbia, who is attending his third development camp after the Wings drafted him in 2016, in the first round and 20th overall.
“I got stick on puck. I had pretty good body position. I thought I played well.”
As the Wings look ahead, with the prospects saying they will be around town and working hard before training camp to make the lineup in October, they moved to keep their best offensive defenseman for 2018-19.
Mike Green signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings for a reported $10.75 million.
It leaves less room for the younger guys.
But GM Ken Holland told The Detroit News Tuesday that only one younger defenseman is likely to join Green, Niklas Kronwall, Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson and Nick Jensen. Cholowski is among those fighting for the job.
Director of player development talks about the scrimmage and the expectations for the players David Guralnick, The Detroit News
“Dennis, you can tell he’s an elite skater and he’s got a great first pass,” said Shawn Horcoff, Red Wings director of player development.
“For him, I told him anytime the forward is going to come down on the defense on him: Can he defend against the best players in the game? And, I thought he did a good job today.
“I think he’s getting better in that area, each year he’s improved more, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing him again.”
Cholowski said he is living in Metro Detroit this summer and working out with a conditioning coach with other personnel from the Wings organization.
Asked, especially in the context of Green signing, what he must do to crack the lineup, Cholowski said, “Just show my commitment. I’ll be out here training. Keep playing the way I’m playing; I think I’m trending well, right now. Hopefully, it works out.”
Horcoff agreed that the prospects in camp seemed to gel quickly in the scrimmage, with many players intent on playing in the NHL out to prove a point.
After a lot of drills this week, and information sessions about what it takes to be a pro, including relationships with the media and participating in social media, the young guys were hungry for some game action for the Red Wings’ brass to evaluate.
“I think so,” Horcoff said, agreeing that a good flow of action began with the start of the scrimmage. “I think a lot of these guys just want to make an impression.”
As for the line of Rasmussen, Smith (second round 2016, 46th) and Zadina, Horcoff said he liked one general attribute, and one of the trio’s performances. in particular.
“Just the skill,” he said.
“I thought Gio (Smith) played real hard on it,” he said. “He did exactly what we need him to do at the pro level on that line as well.
“It’s fun watching skill, when you can tell these guys have a bright future. And, hopefully, that was the start of many more viewings like that.”
Smith scored on what is a typical goal for him, establishing position in front of the net, handling the puck in close quarters and banging it in, when the opportunity presents itself.
“That was a big goal,” he said. “It tied the game.
“That’s my type of game: Skill in front of the net and found the puck loose and just tucked it in.”
Otto Kivenmaki (seventh round 2018, 191st) opened the scoring, unassisted.
Although many eyes were on Zadina, from the puck drop, Kivenmaki readily demonstrated Horcoff’s description of him, as “highly-skilled.”
The 5-foot-8, 154-pound forward — up from 137 pounds during the past year — gave a good accounting of himself.
Jack Adams (sixth round 2017, 162nd), of Union College, scored two goals.
Taro Hirose, a free agent invitee out of Michigan State, celebrated his 22nd birthday with a goal, after a nice helper from Jonatan Berggren (second round 2018, 33rd), a 17-year-old playmaker from Skelleftea, a Swedish junior team.
“It felt good out there, but a little bit rusty,” said Berggren, who had not played since the U18 World Junior Championships, two months ago.
“I used my speed, my skill and setup my teammates.”
Also scoring were David Pope (fourth round 2013, 109th), Brady Gilmour (seventh round 2017, 193rd), Mattias Elfstrom (seventh round 2016, 197th), Luke Morgan (free agent invitee, Michigan), Colt Conrad (free agent invitee, Western Michigan) and Chase Pearson (fifth round 2014, 140th).
Sebastian Vidmar (free agent invitee, Union College) provided two assists.
Zadina’s hard, brisk shot, from an easy, quick release, continued to be one of the highlights of the camp.
“It was a pretty tough week for me because we had lots of training and lots of practices on the ice,” he said.
“But it was pretty good, you know? Lots of new experiences for myself. And the game was pretty high intensity.
“It was pretty cool,” Zadina said.
“I scored. And, we won. We were down 5-1, and then we tied it up. Then, we won.
“So, it was awesome.”