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On the Wings of Tomorrow

McIsaac ready to show what he can do with healthy shoulders, two Wings prospects make Sweden's world junior team and more in the December prospect report

by Bob Duff @asktheduffer / Special to

Initially, the blow hit Jared McIsaac harder than any check he's absorbed on the ice.

In early June, just days after playing for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Memorial Cup, McIsaac was summoned to Detroit by Red Wings head athletic therapist Piet Van Zant to have his ailing shoulder checked out.

McIsaac, selected 36th overall by the Wings in the 2018 NHL entry draft, initially injured the shoulder playing for Detroit during the team's annual NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City during the fall.

"Piet Van Zant called me and said, 'We want to make sure everything's all right. Come down and get an MRI,'" McIsaac recalled. "They looked at it and I ended up needing surgery."

McIsaac underwent the knife to repair his shoulder capsule.

"It was pretty quick," McIsaac said. "MRI one day, surgery the next day. That's all she wrote."

Actually, in truth, the surgery was only the beginning of the story. McIsaac endured a 5-6 month recovery period.

Tweet from @HFXMooseheads: Jared McIsaac is back, contributed right away with an assist and he���s focused on the World Juniors. @DetroitRedWings

Over that time period, he learned a lot about himself and even more about how much the Wings treasure what the 19-year-old defenseman has to offer to the future of the team.

"Six months, it's a long haul," McIsaac said. "It's a long grind for rehab."

Instead of heading back to Halifax, McIsaac did his post-surgery rehab in Detroit.

He worked regularly with Shawn Horcoff, Red Wings director of player development/assistant director of player personnel and Brandon Naurato, player development consultant, as he built himself up for a return to game action.

"Obviously being in Detroit for two-and-a-half months on my own, on my own schedule, doing my own thing, that was tough," McIsaac admitted. "But like I've said to many people, I'm glad I did what I did, stayed in Detroit for the two-and-a-half months to finish my recovery and my rehab. I think I'm better for that now as far as the shoulder goes.

"I think I got a lot of skill development from those two-and-a-half months as far as skating and my shot, and the rest of my skills.

"They took great care of me while I was down there."

He may not have officially been a Red Wing but the Red Wings welcomed and embraced McIsaac as if he were already part of the big club.

"You never want to be away from your team for that long," McIsaac said of his absence from Halifax. "But I think as far as next year goes, after the season when I turn pro, whether it's in Grand Rapids or Detroit, I think half the battle is getting to know the staff and the players there.

"I got to know a couple of guys. I talked to pretty well all the guys throughout my time there.

"I was in Grand Rapids for a couple of days here and there when Detroit was on the road. It was a great experience. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. As much as it was a grind, I really enjoyed it."

Deep down, McIsaac knew that as much as the surgery would briefly set his hockey development curve back a bit, in the long run getting it done would greatly improve his chances of becoming an NHL regular.

He'd played in at least some level of discomfort on and off for much of the past two seasons.

"I think it would've been my draft year as well, I kind of had a bit of a problem with it," McIsaac recalled. "It wasn't crazy at the time. Last year at rookie camp in Detroit, I hurt it again.

"It was fine until after (playing for Canada at the) world juniors, and then it kind of flared up again right before playoffs. All of the playoffs, it was a constant battle of trying to keep it from sliding all over the place. I was able to play well enough even with the shoulder kind of all over the place."

Enduring through the entirety of the injury, repair and rehab, that might be the most amazing element to this story.

Even while playing basically with one properly-functioning shoulder, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound McIsaac was still an elite, dominating defender in the QMJHL. McIsaac was Halifax's highest-scoring defenseman.

He finished second among QMJHL rearguards in 2018-19 in both goals (16) and points (62) in just 53 games.

As his shoulder worsened through the postseason, McIsaac still managed to accumulate 16 points in 22 playoff games.

"I think just looking back at last year, It's astonishing how well I played and how consistent I was, even with the bum shoulder," McIsaac said. "I think you kind of take little bits and pieces away from that. Knowing you can kind of push through an injury like that, I guess is kind of a plus side.

"At the end of the day, whether you're a little banged up, or 100 percent, you need to be able to contribute in your own way. I was kind of lucky enough to be able to do that on an elite team last year. That kind of helped."

That knowledge also leaves McIsaac in a world of wonder about just how much more he can contribute during the remainder of the current season as he returns to the ice with two healthy shoulders for the first time in recent memory.

"Yeah, for sure," McIsaac said. "It'll be nice for the longest time for this one not to be as sloppy as it swas the past year. Just getting back into playing and in the groove again, it's great. I missed it for six months. I'm definitely ready and beyond excited."

McIsaac made his return to the ice on Nov. 30 in a 3-0 victory over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He picked up an assist, delivered five shots on goal and was plus-one.

On Dec. 2, McIsaac was announced as an invitee to the Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp, slated for Dec. 9-12 in Oakville, Ont.

Despite his lack of game action this season, McIsaac is confident he'll have the necessary stamina to make an impact on the world junior stage.

Tweet from @HFXMooseheads: Mooseheads players Bo Groulx, Jared McIsaac & Raphael Lavoie are excited to prove themselves at Canada's World Junior camp next week. 🇨🇦 @HC_WJC @HockeyCanada @TSNHockey #GoMooseGo

"I don't think my conditioning will be a problem," McIsaac said. "When I skated with (Brandon Naurato), we'd skate 5-6 times a week in Detroit and two or three of those days would be a real tough conditioning skate.

"I've also continued that since I've been in Halifax. The workouts in Detroit helped with that. But the past week and a half, I felt great in practice.

"I think I'll be ready. I'm pretty confident with that. We'll see how it goes."

SWEDISH ROSTER ANNOUNCED: A back injury cost Jonatan Berggren a chance to play in the world juniors last season but he's good to go this time around.

Tweet from @eskhockeyalag: Jul- och ny��rshelgen blev extra sp��nnande efter att Jonatan Berggren idag presenterats i Sveriges prelimin��ra JVM-trupp! Grattis och lycka till, Jonte!

The right-winger, selected 31st overall by the Wings in the 2018 NHL entry draft, was named to Sweden's world junior roster.

Berggren, 19, has 2-9-11 numbers in 22 games this season for Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League.

Goaltender Jesper Eliasson, Detroit's 84th overall selection in the 2018 draft, was also picked to the squad.

Currently with Almtuna IS in Hockey Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, Eliasson shows a 2.72 goals-against average and a save percentage of .896.

Tweet from @VLHlive: Idag presenterade Tomas Mont��n Sveriges prelimin��ra JVM-trupp. Uttagen fr��n V��xj�� Lakers ��r m��lvakten Jesper Eliasson.

BRATTSTROM'S HOT HAND: Goaltender Victor Brattstrom (160th, 2018) is dominating the shooters playing for Timra IK in Sweden's Hockey Allsvenskan.

Brattstrom, 22, is second in the league in GAA (2.09), wins (17) and minutes played (1,379).

As well, he's fifth overall with a .917 save percentage.

MORE FROM MOORE: In his first season with the BCJHL's Chilliwack Chiefs, defenseman Cooper Moore is displaying the scoring touch that convinced the Wings to select the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder with the 128th overall choice of the 2019 draft.

Tweet from @Chiefs_Hockey: Following last week's games, @DetroitRedWings #NHLDraft pick @coopermoore14 has now tied @ethanbowen02 for second place in the @MakitaCanada 3-Star Standings. 🛠��� #ChiefsHockey

Moore leads the Chiefs with 10 goals in 28 games. He's enjoyed one two-goal game and scored an overtime winner Nov. 28 against the Powell River Chiefs. Moore is also second on the Chiefs with 34 penalty minutes.

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