Red Wings prospect Jack Adams talks about the benefits of taking part in the team's development camp. The Detroit News
Detroit — You can’t teach size, you either have it or don’t.
At 6 feet, 5 inches, Jack Adams, the Red Wings’ 2017 sixth-round draft pick, has it.
But along with being a benefit in hockey, Adams has seen how having size can be a problem, too.
“It’s definitely an advantage, but it’s also harder than people think,” Adams said last month at the Wings’ development camp. “(People think) you’re big, you can go crush people. (When you’re playing opposing big players), you have to play more of an all-around game when you’re bigger, you have to finish your checks, be hard on the forecheck, be hard in front of the net. You can’t lose your one-on-one battles. There’s definitely more responsibility.”
Rick Bennett, the Union (N.Y.) College head coach, has been on Adams to utilize his size and strength in a positive way.
“Coach Bennett always stresses if you’re a big guy and you do something wrong, it looks worse because you’re all over the place and you’re so much bigger,” Adams said. “But if you’re a smaller guy, you just go down. There’s definitely more responsibility.
“But there’s also more upside if you really capitalize on your strength.”
Let’s face it, the odds are long for any sixth-round draft pick in the NHL.
But with Adams, there’s that diamond-in-the-rough feel, a belief there’s something that has been untapped.
Mainly, it’s because of Adams’ ability to score goals.
Adams has shown most of his career the ability to score goals — until last season.
In his freshman season at Union, Adams was limited to four goals and nine assists (13 points) in 28 games.
Adams scored 37 goals in junior hockey the year before.
“Compared to junior, college is so defensive, especially in the ECAC,” said Adams, who admitted he may have underestimated college hockey. “It’s a grind every night, especially the way we play at Union. It’s a defense-first system. You have to focus on the entire sheet of ice. You can’t just cheat offensively, like sometimes in junior.
“College is different, you only have about 35 games compared to junior, where it’s 60-70. But you get five practices a week, so you get to develop that way and we’re in the gym 3-4 times a week, we lifted all spring and shot pucks. So, it’s basically development all year long while taking classes and getting my degree, which is so important to my family and me.”
What trails in Adams’ game currently is his skating and defense.
Playing at Union, Adams is getting a good education as he prepares for professional hockey.
“They (the Wings) drafted me here as a goal-scorer,” Adams said. “That’s what I want to do at the next level. But I’ll always have that side of my game, the offense and the vision and the scoring.
“But I’ve really got to work on my defensive game, my 200-foot (game) and just trusting my speed and realizing that I can skate and play with these guys.
“I didn’t have the year I wanted (last season), but Coach Bennett stressed to work on my 200-foot game, so I definitely improved defensively and improved away from the puck and using my size to my advantage. My skating has improved a lot in the last year.
“It’s more speed and quickness and my first few steps.”
Red Wings prospect Jack Adams talks about the benefits of playing college hockey at Union. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Adams, 21, is likely a few years from even thinking about pro hockey, but if he adds on to his current 204-pound frame and increases his quickness, the potential is there.
Adams was quick to hang around players such as Givani Smith, Dennis Cholowski, and Michael Rasmussen last month, players who have taken in multiple development camps with the Wings.
“It’s easy to follow their footsteps and be a sponge,” Adams said.