TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Not many guys have played in as many NHL playoff games as regular season games.
Landon Ferraro, 24, earned that distinction last season as he joined the team for the final three games of the regular season and then played in all seven first-round games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"That was big," Ferraro said after the third day of training camp. "When I got called up, I thought I was just playing for the last couple games and then go back down for Grand Rapids playoffs. To stick around, it was a lot of confidence going into the summer, knowing that I could play. Not just get by in the regular season, but to play and play good minutes against (Tyler) Johnson's line in the playoffs is something that was huge for me. I think that kind of was a big springboard coming into summer and then coming into training camp."
Getting thrown into the playoffs with very little experience can be overwhelming for a player.
"A little deer-in-the-headlights my first shift but you settle into it and it's exciting," Ferraro said. "That's the time that you want to play, especially it's the Stanley Cup playoffs. You dream about playing in them since you're a little kid. For me, getting to watch my dad (Ray Ferraro) play in them with the Islanders and then moving on and finishing with St. Louis, you saw the excitement it brought him.
"That's what I wanted to do and finally getting to do it was something that I'll remember and it was a lot of fun."
Although Ferraro's name hasn't been mentioned as much as players like Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, that doesn't rule him out from making the team because of injuries or being a quick call-up in case of additional injuries.
Coach Jeff Blashill is very familiar with Ferraro from their time together in Grand Rapids, but that doesn't necessarily give Ferraro much of an edge over the other young players.
However, Ferraro does know exactly what Blashill expects, especially in practice.
"It's a little nerve-wracking because if I mess up one of the drills, it means I'm not paying attention because I've been doing them for three years," Ferraro said. "It's been good so far."
Ferraro said Blashill has been just what he expected as the Wings head coach.
"He's a confident guy, he's real smart hockey-wise and he's a good people person," Ferraro said. "That's one of the things that's going to be great with Blash. He's a real players' coach. He's honest and he's direct but at the same time, he's fair. I think it's going to be a breath of fresh air for some of the guys that have been here for a long time and for us that are trying to earn a spot that have been with him, it's comfortable. You know what you're walking into."
Ferraro had 27 goals and 15 assists in 70 games with the Griffins last year and one goal in three regular-season games with the Wings.
"Landon, in a short sample size, did a real good job in the playoffs but he wants to become a regular NHLer," Blashill said. "So, again, we’ve talked about how relentless sports are, so that means he’s got to do it tomorrow, he’s got to do it next day, he’s got to do it in all of the exhibition games. I think he’s had a great camp so far. I think he showed speed, he showed strength on pucks. That strength was a big thing for him, and I think he just needs to continue."
Ferraro now has the confidence, he just needs to show his strengths on a consistent basis.
"I want to earn a full-time spot here," Ferraro said. "I finally feel like this is the first year I’m coming into camp with a foot in the door. I’m actually in competition for a spot. There’s so many guys here, I just need to make sure I have a good start. I’m confident in what I did this summer and how I finished last year that I can kind of put my foot on the gas and get moving."