Red Deer Rebels centre Landon Ferraro was expected to make his mark at the Detroit Red Wings camp.
After all he was the Wings top pick — second in the second round and 32nd overall — in the 2009 Entry Draft.
But that wasn’t the case with Rebels veteran Willie Coetzee, who was a undrafted invitee to the Wings camp.
However Coetzee made an impression.
“I thought I had a good camp and they said they hoped to keep me and would watch and see how things develop,” explained the five-foot-10, 186-pound winger.
Ferraro had an idea of what to expect heading into camp, as he grew up around the game following in his father Ray’s footsteps.
“It was everything I expected and more,” he said. “Everyone told me going in to make sure to have fun as it’s your first camp and you only do it once. And it went great and I played well.”
Ferraro had a goal and a pair of assists in a prospects tournament and scored once in a main camp scrimmage.
“That was cool,” he said. “Willie and I played on the same line in the main camp and he assisted on my goal.”
He also remember vividly two other highlights of the main camp.
“I got my first pass from (Nicklas) Lidstrom and I was on a two-on-one with (Pavel) Datsyuk. That was pretty amazing, something you dream of.”
A number of things impressed Ferraro, especially how hard the veterans worked off the ice.
As for the camp, everything was done top notch.
“They treat you as well as they can, making sure you’re comfortable,” he said.
Ferraro also knew he wasn’t going to stay in Detroit this season, and probably not next.
“They told me they have a four-year plan, which is nice to hear,” said the six-foot, 171-pound Ferraro. “It gives me time to develop. I need to put on some size and gain strength.
“They said gaining five to eight pounds would be realistic. They’re not asking me to gain 20 pounds as the main part of my game is speed and they don’t want to affect that.”
But despite giving up some size Ferraro made an impression.
“They didn’t expect me to create a lot because I didn’t have the size of a lot of the guys I was up against, but with my speed I was able to do that,” he said.
Neither Ferraro nor Coetzee was on hand for the Red Wings Red-White game, but that was to be expected.
“They don’t keep any of the 19 and younger guys who won’t be there,” explained Ferraro.
Coetzee didn’t mind as he saw what he needed to see.
“I got a chance to see what it was like. Everyone works so hard and it’s very fast-paced,” said Coetzee, who wasn’t sure if he would be invited to a camp, never mind the Red Wings.
“After the draft I was hoping just to get a tryout somewhere,” he said. “But it worked out great as Detroit is one of my favourite teams.”
Coetzee feels that playing with the Rebels and in the WHL was a benefit to him.
“They do a good job in this league of teaching you to play professional hockey,” he said. “Now I need to come back and try to get a few more points, but most of all work on my defensive game. Once that comes then I can concentrate on offence.”
Coetzee had 18 goals and 24 assists last season while Ferraro had 37 goals and 18 helpers.
Both will be in the lineup Friday when the Rebels open their regular season against the Calgary Hitmen at 7:30 p.m. at the Centrium.
“I’ve been looking forward to this season for two years,” said Ferraro. “We need to start well and part of that’s up to me as one of the older players.”
Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin feels that the experience the pair received at the Wings’ camp will benefit the Rebels.
“It’s a great experience for them to see what goes on,” he said. “They learn a lot such as the pace of play and the commitment level of the pros on and off the ice. Those are things they can bring back and put to good use here.”
• The Rebels made a pair of moves Wednesday to trim their roster down, shipping 18-year-old forward Brett Miller to the Everett Silvertips for a conditional draft pick in 2011 and sending 17-year-old defenceman Brad Deagle to Brooks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
“It was a real tough day as those were really difficult decisions and not made lightly,” said Wallin. “Last year we sent Miller down and he was naturally disappointed, but he committed himself to come back this year and be a lot better. He added 20 pounds over the summer, was leaner and stronger and attended a skating camp to improve his skating. We also changed his style of play to be more physical and he did a lot of things to make this team. But ultimately he was our 14th forward and it’s a better opportunity for him to go to Everett and get a chance to play.
“As for Brad he was in a tough spot as we made a commitment to get bigger (by adding Simon Witt Tuesday) and unfortunately he was caught in the mix. As well he’s 17 and we didn’t want him sitting here when he could play a lot in Brooks, where he can get himself ready to play at this level.”