– In the midst of his fourth day at the Red Wings development camp, goalie Thomas McCollum
said if he could switch places with anyone in the world for one day, it would be Jimmy Howard
It was a fitting answer, because the Wings’ front office hopes that one day their first-round draft choice from 2008 will not switch places with Howard, but will compete for the starting role.
Next season, McCollum is expected to be the Griffins’ starter in Grand Rapids, the Wings’ AHL affiliate. With fellow goaltending prospect Daniel Larsson
returning to Sweden, McCollum hopes to get plenty of work between the pipes.
“I’m extremely excited,” McCollum said. “I love playing a lot of games, night in and night out, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
After four impressive seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, McCollum moved to the professional ranks with the Griffins last season. The learning curve was evident; the young goaltender posted a 10-16-2 record with a 3.48 goals-against average in 30 games, and spent six games with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
However, McCollum had strong showings in the latter part of his first AHL season, which he attributed to a different mentality during games.
“I’d say I really just kind of figured out how to stay more patient and trust in myself that I could get the job done,” he said. “When I started thinking like that, things started going very well.”
The 21-year-old goaltender said he has matured significantly since the Wings drafted him, which is great news, as he would likely be called up to the parent club in the event something would happen to Howard or Chris Osgood.
“I’d say that I’m definitely a little bit more mature now, I have a better understanding of what I need to do to be successful,” McCollum said. “And I would say that I’m better prepared.”