TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. -- The Red Wings seem to like players from the University of Maine.
Not only were goaltender Jimmy Howard and forward Gustav Nyquist Black Bears, current prospects Patrick Holway and Chase Pearson will play there this season.
All four were Detroit draft picks.
Last spring, the Wings signed another Maine product, defenseman Dan Renouf, to a two-year, entry-level contract.
"Just seemed like they had a lot of trust in me and they think a lot of me as a player and felt like I was ready to leave school and take the next step in turning pro and I’m glad I did so far," Renouf said during last month's development camp in Traverse City.
Renouf was able to join the Grand Rapids Griffins for the end of their season. He played in six games and recorded one assist.
"I came down and had to go back to school for a bit but I spent about two months there and it was really valuable for me," Renouf said. "I think the best part was just getting to know the guys. Coming here for this camp, I already know a couple of the guys and even management, the coaching staff. That’s really important, just feeling comfortable at these camps. I already feel like I’ve been to a couple and this is my first. That’s huge for me."
At Maine, Renouf appeared in 111 games, scoring 10 goals and 28 assists.
Renouf could immediately tell the difference between college hockey and professional hockey, even at the AHL level.
"I think it’s definitely just a different game," Renouf said. "Older men, stronger, smarter players. I think college is really run and gun. It’s more controlled and less mistakes. Everyone’s trying to be perfect and make the right play. I think I had a couple games transitioning but I felt like my game transitioned pretty well."
Renouf described himself as a well-rounded defenseman.
"I take care of my own end, a two-way player, I do like to get into the rush but I think the best part of my game is the D zone, using my size and speed," Renouf said. "I definitely feel comfortable in the offensive zone, too."
Although Griffins coach Todd Nelson emphasized that development camp was for instruction, not evaluation, he was impressed with what he saw from Renouf after the first scrimmage.
"I thought he was really good," Nelson said. "He looks faster to me right now. I think he leaned up. He's putting in a very good summer and I thought he had a very good night. When he was out there, he had the puck all the time."
At 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, Renouf has just the kind of size the Wings would like to have on their blue line.
Renouf is not expected to contend for a spot on the Wings just yet, but he did notice the path that fellow undrafted defenseman Danny DeKeyser took.
"That’s definitely a goal to do a path something like that," Renouf said. "I know everybody has different paths but just seeing somebody doing that right out of college and step in, already such an established player with the Red Wings, that’s somebody to look up to."
Renouf hopes that in the not-too-distant future, he can play with DeKeyser and the rest of the Wings.
"It’s such a storied organization and it seems like a big family here," Renouf said. "There’s so much success in this organization for so many years. It’s a big family. I just want to be part of it."