It’s been a long time since the Detroit Red Wings had a 6-foot-3 forward prospect who is a crasher, a banger, and has decent skills to boot.
But that’s exactly what Julien Cayer has to offer, and he’s quietly progressing as an NCAA freshman with the Clarkson Golden Knights.
“He’s played a big, strong game, he’s physical and he uses his body,” said Red Wings scout Mark Leach. “He creates chances offensively, he crashes the net, and he causes some havoc down low, and that’s kind of his game.
“He uses his body really effectively.”
Leach said the 181-pound Cayer is still growing into his frame and he needs to get stronger, but that’s a given with any prospect.
He’s looked comfortable with the NCAA game, skating a regular checking-line shift with Clarkson and getting some power-play time in front of the net and along the half boards. He has three goals and six assists in 23 games.
Cayer, drafted 151st overall last summer, should get a bigger role at Clarkson next season with the graduations of Shea Guthrie and Chris D’Alvise. The Red Wings hope that will help him blossom offensively at the college level.
“They have some older forwards there and it’s a matter of time to wait his turn and get up onto those top lines on a regular basis,” Leach said.
Here are some other notes from the past week.
* Forward Ville Leino stayed with the big club this week after being called up from Grand Rapids in late January. He has a goal and two assists in four games. Justin Abdelkader (two games, no points) was sent back to Grand Rapids, while Darren Helm replaced him and is scoreless in three games.
* Center Evan McGrath (Grand Rapids, American Hockey League) has 29 points in his last 35 games. That’s a pace that pretty much matches Leino’s scoring clip on the farm. The difference is, McGrath’s three years younger.
The 23-year-old looked like a write-off when he was a healthy scratch early in the year, but kudos to him for putting in the effort and turning his game around. The Red Wings will likely re-sign him as a result.
* Forward Gustav Nyquist (Maine, NCAA) may have finally hit a wall after a torrid start. He has no goals and two assists in his past eight games.
* Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (Grand Rapids, AHL) is still on the shelf with troublesome knee and wrist injuries. He hasn’t had a terribly overwhelming season, but this certainly isn’t helping him get it together.
* Forward Jan Mursak (Grand Rapids, AHL) scored his first pro goal this week. This has been a disappointing rookie campaign for Mursak, but he still has potential to grow in the next few seasons. Just look at McGrath.