Wings prospect Zablocki a pest with scoring punch

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — All you need to know about Red Wings prospect Lane Zablocki is by asking him after which NHL players he patterns his game.

The baby-faced, 5-foot-9, 190-pound forward, a 2017 third-round draft pick, doesn’t say Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby or Auston Matthews, or any of the exciting, high-scoring magicians.

No, Zablocki loves the way Andrew Shaw and Brad Marchand — two of the leading “pests” in the NHL — play.

“More Andrew Shaw, but yeah, I would say I kind of pattern my game against (those players),” Zablocki said at last month’s Red Wings’ development camp. “Just the physicality, being pests, those kind of things.

“I’ve always loved to do that.”

Zablocki looks as if he’s entering junior high, and needs to grow physically, but don’t let his appearance fool you.

He has the ability to get under opponents’ skin, agitate them to no end, but also score key goals.

Zablocki had six goals in six playoff games last season for Red Deer (WHL), after scoring 28 goals in 64 regular season games split between Regina and Red Deer.

If there’s a comparison in the Red Wings organization currently, Zablocki compares to Tyler Bertuzzi, also an agitator who has had three consecutive superb playoff springs for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“I’m a hard, gritty forward, and I like to get under people’s skins,” Zablocki said. “I’m an agitator out there. But I also have an offensive side to my game.

“I like to hit, score, and bring a lot of excitement out there.”

Zablocki didn’t get to participate during the development camp as much as he’d like because of a rolled ankle he suffered leading up to the draft.

With the time off before the start of Red Deer’s training camp in September, Zablocki expected to be at full strength.


Zablocki wasn’t sure where he’d be drafted in June — most mock drafts had him going a touch later than the third round — but being selected by the Red Wings was a thrill.

“I really didn’t believe it at first,” Zablocki said. “It was all kind of surreal. It kind of sunk in later that day, and then the next week, and when I got to (Traverse City), it started to kick in after the first skate.

“I met with them (Red Wings) at the (NHL) combine and had a real good interview. I felt real confident coming out of there, that I knew going into the draft Detroit was definitely a place I could end up.”

And given the chance in the future, Zablocki expects to be the same type of player he is now.

“I’m not going to shy away from anything,” Zablocki said.

Brotherly advice

Evgeny Svechnikov knows what it’s like for a player in his draft year, the pressure and speculation involved.

Svechnikov was a 2015 first-round draft pick of the Red Wings, and now has the experience and knowledge to pass along to his younger brother, Andrei.

The younger Svechnikov is playing in Barrie (OHL) this season, and is projected to be one of the top few players to be selected in the 2018 Entry Draft.

Andrei (6-foot-1, 188-pounds), a sturdy, scoring winger just like Evgeny, had 58 points (29 goals, 29 assists) in 48 games for Muskegon (USHL) last season.

“I’m telling him to just work really hard and be himself,” Evgeny Svechnikov said. “He’s a real good player and he’s done everything (right). He has a good mindset.

“I just tell him to work hard.”

Butcher update

Will Butcher, a college free-agent defenseman, will meet with Las Vegas, Buffalo and New Jersey according to a report in The Denver Post.

Butcher (5-foot-10, 186-pounds) won the Hobey Baker Award (hockey’s Heisman Trophy) at Denver last season but couldn’t work out a contract with the Colorado Avalanche, the team which originally drafted Butcher, making him a free agent Tuesday.

The Red Wings have interest in Butcher, but it’s unclear how many other teams Butcher will visit.