Detroit — Dan Cleary, the Red Wings’ former player and current director of player development, was quick to reiterate Sunday the purpose of this week’s development camp for recent draft picks.
It’s for education, camaraderie, and getting a glimpse of what is professional hockey.
But there’s no evaluation going on. So, Cleary’s message to the 39 players on the roster is, relax and soak in everything you can.
“This is not an evaluation one bit,” Cleary said Sunday, after Day 1 of the camp. “This is an education and enjoy it, get to meet all these guys you haven’t seen. Take whatever information we’re giving you and ask questions.
“That’s strictly it.”
There was various on-ice testing done Sunday, but it was done mostly to have baseline numbers to compare with the past, and in the future. The testing isn’t done to compare against other players
“We tested them today, but this is strictly testing to let them know ‘Hey, this is where the pro level is at and this is where you’re at’,” Cleary said. “You’re 18, 19 years old, but there’s not evaluation at all. We’re doing skills, skating, we have vision training, some fun things to do and then, on Thursday, we’ll do a small three-on-three tournament. That’s really it.”
Instilling what the culture of the Wings’ organization, said Cleary, along with the work ethic and character are also key aspects of the week.
As in previous camps, and while working with young players in the Wings organization, Cleary has found today’s young athletes receptive to coaching.
“It’s a different athlete,” Cleary said. “Today’s young person, you really have to adapt to them, they have a different mindset, I feel, but a good mindset. We’ve had great kids to work with and some kids who are way more mature at 18 or 19 year old, and we’ve had some, maybe, who weren’t as mature as others.
“But I’ve never had a kid who has been hard to deal with. They’ve all been terrific.”
Cleary also has found that today’s athlete is much more advanced than when he entered the NHL is 1997.
“Oh God, yes,” Cleary said. “I find it hard to believe a kid doesn’t know like, where to train, how to train, what and how to when to eat. In terms of the internet and the information that is available, you just have to want it. Plus, we’re (development staff) here 24/7. They certainly have a lot of things, especially with skills and skating coaches, and nutritionist and trainer. It’s a team.”
Cleary, who went through ups-and-downs early in his career before settling into a successful career with the Wings, attempts to pass along whatever he’s learned about pro hockey to young players.
“I’ll advise, or be a sounding board, if I see a kid is going on a path I think he shouldn’t be going on,” Cleary said. “You need kids to buy in and believe in it, and so far we’ve been fortunate. A lot of the kids we’ve had to work with have been terrific, good pros, mature, much more mature than when I was 18 or 19 years old.”
Cleary saw a lot of first-round pick, forward Marco Kasper, last season while on scouting trips to Sweden. The Wings had three players on the Rogle team Kasper was on.
“I watched Kasper by default, saw a few games while not scouting, but certainly watched,” Cleary said. “He was a good player.”
… Defenseman Simon Edvinsson hasn’t arrived in Detroit yet because of a passport issue, while defenseman William Wallinder and forward Theodor Niederbach had cancelled flights that have delayed their arrival.
Cleary expects all three to be in Detroit soon.
… Edvinsson, last year’s first-round pick, will stay in the Detroit area after this camp and prepare for August’s world junior tournament (which was postponed in January because of COVID issues). Edvinsson had a successful season in Sweden and is expected to challenge for a Wings’ opening night roster spot in September.
“He’s been a great prospect to work with,” Cleary said. “With the talent and attitude, his approach to everything, it’s just great. Watching him play with Frolunda last season, to see him skate and move on the ice, his size and athleticism, creativity and vision, he’s an excellent prospect, a great kid.”