DETROIT – The Red Wings’ development camp continued Thursday as 33 players took the ice, participating in skating and stick-work drills in the morning and concluding with a scrimmage.
Detroit selected Nick Jensen in the fifth round (150th overall) of last month’s draft in Montreal. He’s among the group of prospects in attendance at Joe Louis Arena this week.
Following the Thursday’s on-ice workout, Jensen fielded questions for DRW.com. Here is a transcript:
Question: How is camp going so far?
Jensen: I think it’s going pretty good. I mean, I expected everyone here to be pretty good and obviously that’s true. There are some really high-skilled guys here and trying to keep up the best I can, but it’s everything I expected it to be.
Q: What have you learned on the ice this week from Jiri Fischer and Curt Fraser and what have you been working on off the ice?
Jensen: Off the ice, we’ve been doing most workouts that we can do on our own back when we’re not with this team. Basically, it’s just kind of teaching us what we can do off the ice. On the ice, they are just teaching us basic things, probably things that most of us haven’t learned how to do yet. Not exactly fundamental stuff, more stuff that we haven’t learned like more skillful stuff to add to our book.
Q: What made you decide to leave high school a year early and enter the USHL?
Jensen: I just had to move up to the next level basically or I wouldn’t have got to where I am today. I was trying to get better and I knew I wasn’t going to do it back in Minnesota. USHL definitely help me develop a lot more.
Q: How have you seen your game improve in the last year?
Jensen: A lot, actually. I talked to, when I came into St. Cloud they told me how when I first got there, I was about right here and all of a sudden you just go up like that because it’s just the level of play is so much higher and it helps you so much.
Q: What made you decide to commit to St. Cloud?
Jensen: First, I limited it down to the WCHA and then I limited it down to just Minnesota because I’m from Minnesota so that was between Mankato and St. Cloud mostly. I visited both and they are both pretty similar. I just kind of picked out the little better things and I liked St. Cloud more.
Q: Have you talked to Nick Oslund about St. Cloud at all?
Jensen: Yeah, I did. I actually just met him here so I talked to him about it a little bit.
Q: When and how did you find out that were drafted?
Jensen: The day when the first round was going on I was on my way back to Texas from a wedding so I was driving back and I got a call from him and I haven’t talked to them like ever. This was the first time that I talked to them and they started asking me scouting questions, like the basic scouting questions, like what do you think the best part of your game is and stuff like that. So I talked to them the day before I got drafted so I kind of got a hint that maybe they were interested, but I wasn’t positive if I was going to go or not. But that’s how I heard.
Q: What is it like sharing the locker room with so many great Wings’ players?
Jensen: It’s awesome. I mean it’s really great. I met Steve Yzerman yesterday so it’s pretty amazing.
Q: In high school, you said Nick Lidstrom was your favorite player. Is that still the case?
Jensen: Yeah, he’s just a solid, all-around defenseman and that’s what I want to be like so he’s definitely still my favorite defensive player, if not my favorite player.
Q: You had a league-leading plus/minus rating. What do you think that says about your game and how you played?
Jensen: Well back in Minnesota hockey, I was more offensive and didn’t play as much defense. I went to the USHL and it was much more high skilled and I knew I had to play a lot more defense first before I tried playing offense. I think it shows that I really worked on my defensive game more in the USHL than back in high school.
Q: The scouts have said that your skating is your strongest asset. What would you say are other strengths of your game?
Jensen: Skating is obviously the best one, but I’m not the best stickhandler but I can still do it and I try to make the best passes that I can. So passing and stickhandling is good, but it’s not the strongest part of my game but I’d say it’s next up there.
Q: What do you think you need to work on the most over the next year?
Jensen: Passing and shooting I’d say. My passes have to be fast and right on tape so that’s a big part of my game that I have to work on. Shooting, you’ve just got to rifle the pucks. The goalies are getting so good at this high-level so it’s going to take a lot to get by them.
Q: How was the Tigers’ game last night?
Q: How was that?
Jensen: It was great. We got to stay in the owner’s box. It was really nice with all the food we got to eat.
Q: Was it nice just having a break?
Jensen: Yeah. I was actually falling asleep in the suite a little bit, but it was fun.
Q: Your dad was drafted a while ago. Did he offer any tips about what went right or wrong with him in his career?
Jensen: Oh definitely. He’s definitely my biggest teacher throughout all my high school career. He’s been my coach ever since I was in mites about age six or seven and was my coach all the way up through high school, coaching winter and summer teams. He’s always working with me off the ice at home and he still does that today so he’s definitely the biggest teacher that I’ve had in hockey.
Christy Hammond is an intern in the Red Wings' New Media & Publishing Department at Joe Louis Arena.