Detroit — Taro Hirose considers himself like a sponge.
The former Michigan State forward, who signed with the Red Wings in March as an undrafted free agent, was a pleasant surprise, collecting seven points (one goal, six assists) in 10 games.
One reason for Hirose’s early NHL success is his desire to absorb knowledge from veteran teammates.
“I’m trying to be a student of the game, and watch what the best players in the world are doing,” said Hirose last week during the Wings’ development camp. “Being able to pick their brains, guys on the team, and see what they’re seeing on plays and seeing things that maybe I don’t see, I’m trying to learn all the time.
“That’s a big part for me.”
Hirose, 23, was one of the older players at last week’s camp, and also had the edge of already played some NHL games.
His success the final weeks of the season was somewhat of a surprise, given he’s only listed at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds, and Hirose isn’t the fastest skater around.
But Hirose has utilized his hockey smarts to the best of his ability, consistently making plays and finding the best places to be on the ice.
“He showed when he came in last season he proved he could produce,” said Shawn Horcoff, the Wings’ director of player development. “He’s been training hard this offseason and he looks good right now.”
Heading into training camp, though Hirose doesn’t have a guaranteed spot in the lineup by any stretch, you get the feeling he is at least penciled onto a roster spot.
Hirose displayed good chemistry with Andreas Athanasiou, though by the sounds of it Monday from general manager Steve Yzerman, Athansiou will be moved from center back to wing.
That brief taste of the NHL, successful as it was, inspired Hirose.
“It was huge for my confidence and letting myself know I can sort of play at that level,” Hirose said. “Obviously there’s a lot of things I need to work on. I’ve been here for most of the summer trying to work on my game and show them I can play at that level.”
Hirose is spending the majority of his summer in the Detroit area training with veteran Red Wings on the roster.
Forward Jack Adams (2017, 6th round) suffered a fully torn ACL and MCL during Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage.
Adams sustained the knee injury on a knee-to-knee collision. He’ll have surgery within a month and a full recovery is expected.
In 38 games last season at Union College (N.Y.) Adams had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists).
Goalie Keith Petruzzelli is spending his offseason adding as much weight and muscle as possible.
Petruzzelli (2017, 3rd round) split the net last season at Qunnipiac, going 8-3 with a 2.42 goals against and .904 save percentage.
The 6-foot-6, 185-pound junior is expected to see more playing time this season, and understands he needs to build on his frame for long-term success.
“I’ve been working with my strength coach (at Quinnipiac) every day this summer and I’ve put weight on,” Petruzzelli said. “I’m still working on it. I’ve got a long way to go. A lot of it is focusing on nutrition as well, and that will help me.
“I’m looking forward to next season. We’re going to be kind of a young team, we had a lot of freshmen last year coming in, so we’re going to need them to step up and be big-time players for us. But I really like our team, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”