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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kolosov back on Red Wings' radar

TRAVERSE CITY -- Curt Fraser liked what he saw … a big (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) defenseman who had good tools and performed well in a big-time situation, the World Championships of Hockey.

Fraser, the one-time head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, was coaching the Belarus national team, working with a 22-year-old player named Sergei Kolosov.

"At the World Championships, he made a significant impact on our defense," said Fraser. "We weren't very deep and he stood up as a young kid and did a great job against some of the best players in the world."

That tournament finished in early May. One month later, Fraser was named the new head coach of the Detroit Red Wings' top farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Less than two weeks after that, Kolosov was signed to a two-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings.

This weekend, Kolosov is taking part in the Red Wings' prospects tournament, which features the top young players from eight NHL organizations. It's the start to a season in which Kolosov should fight for a spot on the Grand Rapids roster.

"Can't say he was high on our radar, on our list," said Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill of Kolosov. "Curt called and made a recommendation. He said, 'You know what? There's something there. If you don't sign him, you might lose. It's his time to come over.' Curt had a good feel for him."

The Red Wings once had a good feel about Kolosov. Drafted in 2004 (Detroit's third pick and the 151st overall), Kolosov was a long-range prospect for the blue line, blessed with size (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) and skill, but not mature enough in hockey to be a sure thing.

Two years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, of the USHL, however, didn't show much development in Kolosov's game. The big blue-liner had fallen into the background of the Detroit organization, passed by more recent draftees, Jakub Kindl, Logan Pyett and Brendan Smith.

Kolosov headed back to Belarus and played professional hockey. He had been scouted by Fraser in Cedar Rapids when the coach was looking to stock the Belarus national team. Now that he was back in Europe, Fraser used him in a few tournaments before naming him to the World Championships squad.

"He was a big, young guy," said Fraser. "Over in Belarus, they don't have a lot of kids with size."

An American working in a nation that was once part of the Soviet Union, Fraser had his moments of adjustment. (There was the time during a game that Fraser called for a player named Strakov by yelling "Strak". Strakov didn't move, but half of the players on the bench turned and glared at Fraser, who soon found out that strak is a derogatory term in Belarus.)

But Fraser saw something in Kolosov that he thought would translate well in North American arenas.

"He's a young guy that's got good tools," said Fraser. "Now he has to develop them, like all these guys out here. If he expects to make the jump or even stay at this level, he's got to improve his play every day."

Kolosov was partnered with Pyett on the blue line, Saturday night, in the Red Wings' opening game of the prospects tournament. It's an event that Kolosov had taken part in two times before. His stock had fallen enough, however, that he wasn't in Traverse City last fall.

"It's a surprise to be back here," said Kolosov.

"These kids are 19, 20 years old and we're making decisions on them," said Nill. "It's not fair to say, 'Hey, he's no good at 20.' If we would have done that, Pavel Datsyuk wouldn't be here right now. You've got to be careful. You've got to be patient."


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