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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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pyett makes jump to pro game

TRAVERSE CITY -- Logan Pyett is short for a hockey player, listed at 5-foot-11 with the help of a generous tape measure. Pyett wasn't on most NHL team's draft radar when he was an 18-year-old.

But Logan Pyett is also a defenseman who's excellent at moving the puck, got a goal-scoring touch from the back end and has loads of international and big-stage hockey experience.

In other words, Logan Pyett is a Detroit Red Wing prospect.

"He benefits by the (post-lockout) rules and by our style of play," said Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill. "Those guys don't scare us. Some people don't like those players. It doesn't bother us."

From Steve Yzerman to Pavel Datsyuk to Henrik Zetterberg to Jiri Hudler to Brian Rafalski, the Red Wings have never shied away from adding players to their roster who were considered too small to play for other clubs.

Pyett, who took part in the Red Wings' prospects camp earlier this week, was acquired by Detroit as an 18-year-old junior in 2006 with the second-to-last selection in the draft (212th overall). (Red Wing Jonathan Ericsson, a 2002 draftee, gained notoriety last winter when he became the first player taken with the final draft pick to play in the NHL.)

Pyett, 20, has finished a five-year junior career that rates as outstanding, signing a three-year entry-level professional contract with the Red Wings in May.

"I'd like to say I'd step right in and be comfortable like I was in junior and make an impact, but I don't really know what to expect right now," said Pyett, who is tabbed to start his pro career in Grand Rapids. "I'm just going to work hard, make my defensive game better. I'll be playing with a lot better players up there which will hopefully make things easier. I just have to try to improve."

Pyett is a native of Saskatchewan and played his junior hockey in the provincial capital of Regina in the Western Hockey League. The year after being drafted by the Red Wings, Pyett finished fourth among WHL defensemen in scoring with 62 points in 71 games and was second on the Regina Pats with a plus-14.

Last winter, Pyett continued to develop finishing first on his team with a plus-24, second among WHL defensemen in goals (20) and fourth in points (54). That despite playing in just 62 games, missing time over the holidays to play for Canada's gold-medal winning team at the World Junior Championships.

Pyett was a plus-1 in that tournament, one won by Canada with an overtime goal in the title game with Sweden.

How popular is the World Junior Championships in the hockey community? On the day of the title game, the Red Wings played a game in Dallas, then hustled back to their locker room to watch overtime. The NHL's top players were shouting at the television set like fans.

"Everyone's watching back home," said Pyett. "There's so much pressure. I almost felt sick to my stomach when they (Sweden) tied it up in the third period. You're one mistake away from losing it. You almost didn't want to go on the ice. I wanted to be the guy who scores the goal, but not the guy who screws it up. It was pretty crazy."

And that's exactly the sort of pressure-filled, big-game experience that Nill and the Red Wings' front office loves to see their prospects tested under. Pyett's next test will be the pro game.

"It's a big adjustment turning pro, living on your own, playing against men," said Nill. We like him. He's a (Brian) Rafalski-like player. He's a puck-moving defenseman. He goes back and gets pucks quick. He's a good hockey player, just not a big hockey player."

Pyett started youth hockey as a forward, but was soon moved to the blue-line because of his skating ability.

"I would try to go end-to-end," said Pyett. "Since then, I've always liked the offensive part of the game. No one's ever tried to stop that."

It's a style that suits the Red Wings. And a style that he can see on display at this weekend's training camp. Brian Rafalski is the first player that Pyett lists when asked what Red Wings he's going to learn from in camp.

"They do play my style," said Pyett. "The Red Wings organization encourages the players to be right up on the play behind the forwards to be offensive. That's the way I like to play. If I can skate up and join the rush, I'm going to continue to do that. I consider myself a fairly good passer, puck-mover. I think I fit in well. I just have to improve on parts of my game like the defensive part and doing stuff quicker, tape-to-tape passes."


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