As the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp got underway in Traverse City on Sunday, there were several unexpected faces of note. Sandy Moger, Randy Burridge, and Jeff Sharples were all late invites to camp, and along with a half dozen other hopefuls, they will battle in search of a Red Wing contract. Because the team does not have a dedicated minor league affiliate this year, the Red Wings’ are only expected to sign one or two players. The competition in Traverse City should reach a very high level as contract hopefuls try to get an edge.
The most noteable player in search of a contract is 30 year old Sandy Moger. At 6’3″ and 218 lb., Moger is ideal for the Wings’ fourth line with Darren McCarty holding out. Moger spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, appearing in 42 games but notching only 5 points. Moger has good hands and an excellent release, and he plays a strong physical game. Although his skating is weak, he is strong on his skates and has good balance. With a solid training camp he could begin the season with Detroit.
Thank you to our correspondent Sarah Lindenau, who is attending camp in Traverse City and continues to provide us with valuable prospect information.
Team A vs. Team C
Final Score: 3-1 for Team B.
Team A Notes
Team A features regulars Fedorov, Yzerman, Chelios, Ward and Brown.
Team A features top prospects Jason Elliott and Darryl Laplante.
The top line featured Fedorov centering Yzerman on the left and Brown on the right.
Jason Elliott, the Red Wings’ fourth rated prospect, was solid but not spectacular. He displayed a good glove hand but didn’t cover up loose pucks well.
Laplante played well, throwing several heavy hits. One in particular sent 18th rated prospect Toivo Suursoo flying into the bench.
Greg Labenski, a contract hopeful, was unimpressive, and was caught out of position several times.
Team C Notes
Team C features regulars Lidstrom, Osgood, Shanahan, Larionov and Lapointe.
Team C features prized prospect Jiri Fischer along with Yuri Butsayev, Maxim Kuznetsov, Toivo Suursoo, Alexandre Jacques, and contract hopeful Mike Hurley.
Scoring: Shanahan, Hurley, and Jacques.
The top line featured Larionov centering Shanahan on the left and Lapointe on the right.
Fischer was impressive paired with Lidstrom. He showed great poise, vision, and made great passes under pressure. Read more»
As the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp continues in Traverse City, Michigan, competition for open roster positions is expected to be fierce. With Darren McCarty holding out, Brent Gilchrist on the injured reserve, and Uwe Krupp suspended, the Wings’ have only 20 NHL regulars. Four open positions are up for grabs in order to fill out the NHL regulation 24-man roster.
Up front, twelve Red Wing regulars are expected to begin the season with Detroit. Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Slava Kozlov, Martin Lapointe, Tomas Holmstrom, Igor Larionov, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Doug Brown, Stacy Roest and Joe Kocur have all reported to camp under contract and in good health.
On the blue line, there are only five returning regulars from last seasons brief playoff run. Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Mathieu Dandenault and Aaron Ward have all reported to Traverse City and will begin the season in Detroit. Recently signed unrestricted free agent Steve Duchesne rounds out the blue line’s top six.
In the crease, there is little doubt that Chris Osgood will be the starter with Ken Wregget as his backup. The Wings’ are unlikely to carry three goalies, and for that reason Manny Legace is expected to be sent to a minor league franchise to begin the season.
After discontinuing their top minor league affiliate in Adirondack, the Detroit Red Wings recently announced a deal that will see approximately eight of their prospects placed in Cincinnati for the 1999-2000 season. The AHL’s Cincinnati Mighty Ducks are Anaheim’s top minor league affiliate. With Detroit’s new farm club not beginning play in Toledo until 2000-2001, the organization needed to find a home for their top prospects. How will the Cincinnati roster take shape this season?
Beginning in the crease, there is little room for Detroit’s top young net minders, Jason Elliott and Aren Miller. Last season’s starter, Tom Askey, is expected to return after a sparkling 1998-1999 season. Askey posted a 2.72 goals against average along with a .918 save percentage, and also saw NHL post-season minutes against Detroit when Guy Hebert was lost to injury. The backup position also appears to be set, with Gregg Naumenko recently signing a two-year pact with Anaheim. Naumenko, an undrafted free agent, was named to the WCHA first all star team and received the WCHA rookie of the year award. Detroit’s top prospect in the crease, Jason Elliott, will likely be loaned to an IHL franchise to earn a starting position. Elliott was the starter in Adirondack for much of last season, but after a spectacular first half he struggled down the stretch. Aren Miller could find himself anywhere this year – likely as a backup in the AHL or IHL, but without a strong training camp possibly the ECHL.
Growing up in Sweden, Detroit Red Wings’ defense prospect John Wikstrom always maintained the same goal.
“The dream has always been there and will always stay. To play in the NHL is of highest importance to me,” said Wikstrom recently.
As a youngster, his primary goal was to reach Sweden’s TV-Pucken, a countrywide tournament for junior hockey players. And as Wikstrom’s hockey career progressed, larger goals became realized.
Drafted in the fifth round by Detroit in 1997, Wikstrom spent several years toiling within the Lulea organization in Sweden. Wikstrom’s years with the club were frustrating, and he was never given the opportunity to become a regular in the Swedish Elite League. He saw most of his ice time with Lulea’s junior squad.
Wikstrom is a hulking defenseman, standing 6’4″ and weighing 205 lb. A decent skater for his size, he continues to improve. Wikstrom plays a tough and physical defensive game, and with his great size he is a force. However, in Sweden, his rugged type of game does not fit in, and the rules make it difficult for him to take full advantage of his size.
“I have more of a North American hockey style,” Wikstrom explains.
Following his draft year, Wikstrom ventured across the ocean to the Red Wings’ 1998 training camp in an attempt to make Adirondack of the AHL.
“The training camp I attended is the best hockey memory I have. Perhaps the best memory I’ll ever have,” said Wikstrom, fondly recalling his introduction to the Detroit Red Wing organization.