SAN JOSE, Calif. – In 2013, the Red Wings invited four undrafted amateurs to play alongside some of their top young stars in the NHL’s annual Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich.
Tonight, one of those hopefuls – San Jose Sharks rookie Barclay Goodrow – will play against the organization that gave him an opportunity to showcase his skills.
“There were a lot of skilled players,” said Goodrow, who, after sitting the past two games as a healthy scratch, returns tonight and will skate on the Sharks’ fourth line tonight with center Andrew Desjardins and forward Tyler Kennedy.
“We had a really good team there and it was fun to play with certain guys that you had played against for a while in junior and stuff like that,” Goodrow added. “I was able to pick up a lot and I think it made me a better player.”
Goodrow and the Red Wings’ prospects, which included current Red Wings Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Alexy Marchenko and Teemu Pulkkinen, won the week-long tournament in ’13.
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Goodrow stood out both on and off the ice in Traverse City.
“The biggest thing that I noticed was that he was strong, really strong,” Sheahan said. “In the weight room he was pushing weights that a lot of the guys weren’t. He had a really good work ethic on the ice. He’s kind of like a player that’s built all in one, with a good shot, really strong on the puck and I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that he is here right now.”
Goodrow stuck around northern Michigan following the ’13 tourney to participate in the Red Wings’ main camp. But he decided to leave early to return to the Ontario Hockey League to play one final season as an overage player at North Bay.
The move paid off for Goodrow who was the Battalion’s leading scorer last year, producing 33 goals and 67 points in 63 games.
“I learned a lot from those camps, playing first in the development camp and then going to the Prospects Tournament and then going to the main camp for a bit,” he said. “I picked up a lot of things and I think that helped me have a good season last year and get me to this point to where I am today.”
Despite missing nearly the first month of the season with a broken hand, Goodrow has proven to be a good free-agent signing for the Sharks. In 41 games, he has four goals, including two game-winners, and six assists.
Toiling in the Wings’ system, albeit for a short period, has helped Goodrow get assimilated to the Sharks way of doing things under coach Todd McLellan, who used to be an assistant with Detroit coach Mike Babcock.
“Yeah, I think the main camps they do things sort of similar with some of the things that are being taught (here),” Goodrow said. “Obviously there have been a lot of good coaches that have come through under Babcock. They’re a well-coached team and so are we, so it should be a good game tonight.”
While not being drafted still stings, Goodrow said he’s fine with proving to teams that they we’re wrong for not selecting him.
“It definitely adds fuel to the fire to get better and to prove a lot of people wrong,” he said. “You have to prove that you belong at that level and I think I should have been drafted, but I didn’t, and it made me a better player today. Still, whenever you have a chance to prove to teams that they made the wrong decision it’s something that you take advantage of.”
It’s an unenviable road traveled, but one that drafted players can appreciate, Sheahan said.
“It’s definitely a tough road to take,” he said. “I know not many guys would have the mental ability. It’s tough when you’re not getting bounces and when it’s a little harder I think it build character and guys like that carry it with them. It definitely is cool to see that and it’s motivating to play with a guy like that too.”