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WJSS Notes: Wings prospect McIsaac's shoulder rehab going well

Tough day for Berggren, Team Sweden; Kivenmaki plays third game

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

PLYMOUTH -- One of the top prospects in the Detroit Red Wings organization was watching as his Canadian teammates defeated Team USA, 4-1, Tuesday afternoon at the World Junior Summer Showcase.

Sitting in the USA Hockey Arena stands was defenseman Jared McIsaac, the Wings' second-round pick, 36th overall, in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

McIsaac underwent surgery to repair his shoulder capsule on June 6 and is expected to miss 5-6 months.

"It's been going pretty good so far," McIsaac said before the game started. "I'm just taking my time with it, not rushing anything. I'm set up real good back home with Nick Bagnall (strength and conditioning specialist). I rehabbed with him last year after the injury and then continuing now after surgery."

McIsaac originally injured his shoulder during the prospect tournament last September in Traverse City.

"Then it got worse throughout the year," McIsaac said. "After world juniors, it kept sliding out in playoffs, kept sliding on me. The organization and myself, they thought it was best for me to get it done. Obviously can't argue with them."

In spite of the injury, McIsaac took a big step forward while playing a big role with the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads.

In 53 games, McIsaac had 16 goals and 46 assists. His 62 points marked a 15-point jump from the previous season. He followed that up with two goals and 14 assists in 22 playoff games.

McIsaac said he never wondered if he could have been even better had he been completely healthy.

"No, I don't think so," McIsaac said. "I think I played to my ability pretty well all year. Whether it's an injury or not, you try to do your best. I think I did that and I did well enough to manage the injury all year and to be able to finish the season."

Shawn Horcoff, the Wings director of player development, and Dan Cleary, player development assistant, kept close tabs on McIsaac throughout the season.

"Horcoff and Danny Cleary were down quite a bit to watch," McIsaac said. "They gave me a lot of guidance throughout the year as far as my game and my coaching staff actually did a really good job as well. I think last year coming off last summer was a big confidence booster for myself for sure. Like I said, Horcoff and Cleary have done a really good job."

McIsaac said he felt he made strides both in playing with the puck and playing tighter defensively.

For now, McIsaac is focused on his rehabilitation.

"I just started some band exercises now," McIsaac said. "Like I said, just taking it slow, I'm still in the cautious stage of it now. It's only been seven weeks, going on eight weeks now. Still being very cautious about it and mindful of what I'm doing."

Although his lower body was not affected by the injury, McIsaac still does have to be careful when going on the ice.

"I've been on once or twice, just skating, no stick handling or anything like that," McIsaac said. "Hopefully within the next couple of weeks, I'll be able to skate a bit more with it feeling a bit more natural."

Last season, McIsaac was a member of Team Canada's World Junior Championship team and he hopes to be able to return in time to make this year's squad.

"That's my goal, to be back at the end of November, hopefully at the earliest," McIsaac said. "Obviously not putting a timeline on it, but I want to make sure I'm 100 percent and make sure the doc feels I'm 100 percent as well."

Like Joe Veleno, who was also on that team and is playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase, McIsaac has a deep appreciation for being able to represent his country.

"Any chance you get to pull over the maple leaf, it's a special feeling," McIsaac said. "I was lucky enough to do it last year and be a part of that team and the experience in Vancouver. If I'm healthy and I'm able to play, hopefully I'm able to make the team again."

Although the injury might have set him back a bit in terms of being able to compete for a spot with the Wings, McIsaac is more concerned about his immediate future.

"Obviously it would depend on how the shoulder goes and following up next season," McIsaac said. "I'm not too worried about that right now. Obviously it's in my future plans, goals, for sure. But I want to make sure I'm healthy and have a good season next year in Halifax."

TOUGH DAY FOR BERGGREN, TEAM SWEDEN: The good news for Wings prospect Jonatan Berggren is that the knee he tweaked in his first game at the World Junior Summer Showcase and the back injury that kept him out most of last season were not an issue Wednesday.

"You always get a little scared when something happened but after the game it was OK," Berggren said of the knee. "I feel great."

Physically Berggren was fine after Team Sweden's 6-0 shutout loss to Team USA but his pride was stinging a bit.

"I think we play good the first two periods. I think we deserved two or three goals there," Berggren said. "Then in the last period, that happens sometimes."

In the third period, Team USA's lead went from 3-0 to 6-0, with one of the goals a result of Berggren's turnover that led to Nick Robertson's breakaway goal.

Tweet from @antonj85: Nick Robertson snor pucken av Jonatan Berggren och g��r 5-0 till USA. #WJSS

"It was bad for me but it happens," said Berggren, who appeared to be expressing his displeasure in Swedish after the goal.

"It was not nice words," Berggren admitted.

Team Sweden head coach Tomas Montén understands that Berggren might be trying to make up for some lost time.

"He wants a lot. He hasn't played since November," Montén said. "He has to be a player that plays close to the edge but of course, when he feels that he has that kind of day, he needs to be smarter for sure. He's a young player. But I think he's frustrated as the game went on.

"He had a really good first period. I think it was the best he's shown so far and he created some good scoring chances. But some days you don't get awarded and then you gotta stick to what you know and stick in, don't try to force things. That's what we did and he did."

After playing in just 16 games last season, Berggren is happy to be healthy again.

"It's just fun to be on the ice and play," Berggren said. "Maybe sometimes I just do a little over much. But it's early in the season so it's just fun to be on the ice."

Although Berggren was in Sweden, he stayed in touch with Horcoff last season.

"I talk much with Horcoff," Berggren said. "We talk much on the phone but he comes to Sweden two or three times last season. He give me some details that he wants me to improve. So it's just positive to have him."

Montén said last weekend he might not play Berggren in back-to-back games this Friday and Saturday because the young forward missed so much time last season but that remains up in the air.

"We will see after Friday's game how I feel," Berggren said. "I think I can play both games."

Sweden faces Canada on Friday and then plays rival Finland on Saturday.

ELIASSON IN FOR ONE PERIOD: Team Sweden brought three goaltenders to the World Junior Summer Showcase, including Jesper Eliasson, the Wings' third-round pick, 84th overall, in the 2018 draft.

Eliasson was the backup for Olof Lindbom Wednesday but was forced into the game for the third period after Lindbom was hit near the end of the second period.

Tweet from @antonj85: Situationen n��r Bobby Brink ��ker p�� Olof Lindbom. #WJSS

"We took him off as a precautionary so we'll see. We'll look into that tomorrow. He had some history last season so we didn't want to take any chances."

Eliasson allowed three goals on 12 shots, but Montén did not blame him.

"He didn't get the best team in front of him," Montén said. "Still, I think he did good. He did some good saves coming in from the start and then he got a 2-on-1 and a breakaway so we didn't help him out at all. I think first 20 minutes, first 25, I just felt that we played decent. I think we created some scoring chances, their goalie was really good and we couldn't capitalize on them. Then just felt that they put it in another gear and we couldn't keep up. We started mishandling the puck and started making bad decisions. Nope, not a good day."

KIVENMAKI PLAYS THIRD GAME: Otto Kivenmaki, the Wings' seventh-round pick, 191st overall, in the 2018 draft, played in his third game for Team Finland, an 8-3 victory over Team Canada.

Kivenmaki has one assist in the three games.

"The smaller ice is still challenging," Kivenmaki said. "The game is so different and I think it's not easy to get used to. Of course there's not so much time and you don't get the puck so often. So it's more of those battles in the corners and those are not my strengths."

After the second game, Kivenmaki admitted that face-offs were also a challenge for him but he did win a few more of them against Team Canada.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings prospect Otto Kivenmaki wins the draw. #WJSS

"I just try to get better every day so that's a good thing," Kivenmaki said.

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