The Mack Report

Detroit Red Wings Prospect Camp Recap

Merrimack College sophomore center Hampus Gustafsson just completed a stint at the Detroit Red Wings prospect development camp.

Merrimack College sophomore center Hampus Gustafsson and 2015 recruit Michael Babcock just completed a stint with the Detroit Red Wings at their prospect development camp.

NCAA prospects are eligible to participate in development camps as long as they pay for their own travel and lodging, and do not accept gifts — equipment, t-shirts, etc. — from the NHL team while at the camp.

Rasmus Tirronen (Washington Capitals) and Chris LeBlanc (Ottawa Senators) were other Warriors who participated in camps this summer.

George Malik, from the blog Kukla’s Korner, provided plenty of insight from the Red Wings camp, which you can read clips of below:

Merrimack 2015 recruit Michael Babcock participates in drills at the Detroit Red Wings prospect camp.

Merrimack 2015 recruit Michael Babcock participates in drills at the Detroit Red Wings prospect camp.

On Babcock … “Michael’s not going to get much bigger at 5’9″ and 170-ish pounds, and Michael may not get much stronger, but the heart-and-soul buzzbomb grinder can work on his hockey skills in his final USHL season in Fargo and then at Merrimack, and I really hope that the intense-but-funny gent becomes a fourth-liner somewhere, because he’s been raised “fantastically.”

More Babcock … “He’s the kind of player that, if there is eventually a spot on the team, four years from now, after he goes to Merrimack, you want to keep a spot open for just in case. He’s enthusiastic as all hell get out, he’s fast and he’s gritty. He might be nothing more than a fourth-line forward at best, but he has his father’s work ethic and his own level of tenactiy, especially after finding himself in regular fisticuffs with the USHL’s Fargo Force last season. He’s not gonna give you an inch that you don’t earn.

“Again, he’s his father’s son, but he’s at the camp because he’s earned it. 5’9,” 160 pounds, going to Merrimack sooner than later, he will need all four years there to put bulk on his frame, but he’s ripped, he’s intense, and he works his tail off to be a strong defensive forward, to skate well to get into position to help his teammates and to check and grind and jab and jam. His work ethic is stellar and he’s going to earn a pro contract somewhere in five years.”

On Gustafsson … “Also had an excellent game, and the 6’4,” 205-pound winger going into his sophomore season at Merrimack was a good foil for Vahatalo. He used his size and strength to jam along the boards and grab loose pucks and he went to the front of the net. Regrettably I’ve barely seen the guy, and he hasn’t stuck out to the point that I’d say, “Cut the NCAA eligibility and sign him!”

Final thoughts on Gustafsson … “What I saw during the practices: 6’4″ and 205 pounds of Merrimack sophomore doing tolerably well. He kept up and started to really intrigue me as the camp went on because he did keep up and he got better.

What I saw during the scrimmages: During the second scrimmage, he played center instead of Julius Vahatalo, and he really looked good. In addition to scoring a goal, he looked like a very mobile forward who could overwhelm his opponents, albeit not by being mean, but simply because he was bigger and stronger than they were, and he generated offense that way. He moved like a smaller man and he had good hockey sense.

What I think about the player’s potential: Another player that the Wings might want to watch this season and invite to camp next summer. He really is a gigantic man and he’s almost the anti-Rasmus Bodin, a generally tuned-in big man who has the promise to be some sort of power checker.”

Final thoughts on Babcock … “What I saw during the practices: 5’9″ and 170-ish pounds, he’s probably as big as he’s going to get, and he’s probably as strong as he’s going to get, and he’s probably as hard-working as he’s going to get. That should be enough to play for four full years at Merrimack after one more year with the Fargo Force, and he’s just so “ultra-competitive” and enthusiastic that he wins battles by force of will, he crashes and bangs as best he can and he’s a defensively sound center who knows what he’s in for.

What I saw during the scrimmages: He didn’t generate scoring chances, but he generated energy, tons of energy, and he’s just as quick to smile and draw a laugh, even during a game, as he is to bear down upon an opponent and refuse to be beaten.

What I think about the player’s potential: He will need those five years ahead to fully physically develop and to continue to improve his skills with the puck. He’s got to be more than a fourth-line center who’s comic relief; he’s got to be heart-and-soul responsible. I believe he can do it.”

Audio Interview with Babcock