Brian Lashoff has earned rave reviews in his brief American Hockey League auditions. Now he’s poised to assume full-time duty.
The 6-foot-3, 204-pound defenseman wrapped up his Ontario Hockey League career with the Kingston Frontenacs last March, tallying six goals and 27 points in 58 games.
Because of Kingston’s early exits the past two seasons, Lashoff has ended up playing 20 AHL games, collecting two goals and 10 assists, basically matching his production rate in junior.
“I think I have grown accustomed to the pace of the play in the AHL going there the last two years,” Lashoff said. “The guys in the league are bigger and stronger and the game is a little quicker. It is something I think I am prepared for but at the same time, I think it will be an adjustment.”
The Albany, N.Y., native quietly had a solid junior career, highlighted by a gold-medal win with the United States at the IIHF world junior championship in January.
He has enjoyed a rapid rise up the Red Wings’ prospect ranking since being passed over in the 2008 draft and signing as a free agent with the Red Wings a few months later.
“Not being drafted is motivation that will last me my whole career,” he said. “It was a blessing in disguise because I got to sign with Detroit and be part of this organization.”
Lashoff was a leader on the Red Wings’ blue line at the NHL prospects tournament in Traverse City this week, helping them finish second following Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild in the gold-medal game. His no-nonsense approach was an important part of the Red Wings’ best-ever finish.
“He’s real steady and solid as a rock back there,” said Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill. “The other night when Brendan Smith was injured, he had to log a lot of ice time and I thought his game stepped up. He was really good the entire tournament.”
The 20-year-old hopes to model his game after Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart and will get an up-close-and-personal look at the big rearguard when the NHLers report for training camp on Saturday.
“I am going to go in and try to not look out of place,” Lashoff said. “I just want to be a Brad Stuart type — moving the puck quick, physical in my own end and contribute offensively where I can. Hopefully I can get a couple of exhibition games in and show them what I can do. I want to show them I can play with the big boys as soon as possible.”
Brooks Macek played is way up from the fourth line to the first line in four tournament games.
“It’s a bit of a learning experience,” Macek said. “At the same time I want to come in and make an impression. I just tried to work hard and play well defensively and obviously keep the offensive play going.”
Macek is first and foremost a point producer. He averaged a point per game with the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League last season, with 73 points in 72 games, and was the 171st overall pick in the June’s draft.
“I worked my whole life to get drafted and to go to this team is just amazing,” Macek said. “It is such a good organization. It was such an unexplainable feeling to have the Red Wings pick me.”
The 5-foot-11 180-pounder said this week was an eye-opener as far as the strength that will be required for him to succeed at the next level.
“I am definitely going to be in the weight room tying to gain as much weight as possible,” he said. “By the time I am eligible to play in the AHL, I will be ready.”
— Defenseman Sebastien Piche scored for the Red Wings in the first period, giving them a 1-0 lead they held until midway through the third period.
But the Wild earned the victory when Cody Almond, T.J. Barnett and Marco Scandella beat Red Wings goalie Thomas McCollum in a 7:28 third-period stretch.
McCollum made 22 saves.
“I was pretty excited about that goal,” Piche said. “Taking a 1-0 lead in the second period was pretty huge. Unfortunately, we didn’t play quite good enough defensively to win.”
The Red Wings have still never won the tournament, despite hosting it every year since 1998. The players were disappointed with the outcome.
“It’s pretty disappointing being up by a goal like that and giving it away in the third period,” Lashoff said. “There’s a fine line between winning and losing and we found that out tonight.”
Added Piche: “We were believing that this year was the year Detroit would win. Everyone played the system and accepted their role. We never stopped believing that we would win the tournament until the end.”
— Mitchell Callahan tried to drop the gloves on several occasions but couldn’t find a willing dance partner.
— Nill was happy with the Red Wings’ finish despite not winning the final game.
“The guys got to the finals and they competed hard,” Nill said. “Everybody played the role the way they should. I thought everybody played real well.”
— Immediately following the game, the Red Wings released tryout defenseman Brenden Kichton.
“He broke his finger so he will head back to Spokane (of the WHL),” Nill said
— Tryout Trevor Parkes is has a back injury and does numerous stretches on and off the ice to deal with it. The 6-foot-1 180-pounder has made some big hits in his attempt to earn an NHL contract with Detroit.
— The Minnesota Wild were presented with the newly-created Prospects Tournament Cup in an on-ice ceremony immediately following the game. The Red Wings remained on the ice as the award was presented.