Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; the Red Wings are expecting big things from a late round draft pick.
That appears to be the case with undersized defenseman, Logan Pyett.
The Red Wings are holding their annual strength and conditioning prospects camp this week and Pyett appears to have made the largest impression.
"I think Logan Pyett has improved the most of our prospects," assistant GM Jim Nill said. "Logan was one of the last picks of the draft three years ago and last year he was a first-team all-star in the Western League. He played in the Canada-Russia series. He played for Canada in the World Juniors. That's pretty good progress for a seventh-round pick."
Selected 212th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, this native of Balgonie, Saskatchewan is being compared to Brian Rafalski – another classic late bloomer.
Pyett admits that he wasn’t that mature on or off the ice two years ago when the Wings selected him with their last pick of the draft; "I wasn't the most mature kid. I didn't take a lot of responsibility away from the rink. At the rink I was kind of selfish.
"But I knew I could be as good as some of the guys that went in the first round."
The swift skating defender got his first taste of what it takes to be a pro during his first conditioning camp in 2006 and it appears that it gave him the wake-up call he needed.
"I just got my foot in the door when I was drafted," Pyett said. "I came here my first camp and I saw what it took. I made a decision from there that I had to work hard and prove to everyone that I could be as good as those high picks. I still have a long ways to go to be a good-late round pick for them like Zetterberg and those guys and play with them maybe one day."
With the NHL’s new standard of officiating allowing for more skating and offensive creativity, Pyett’s stock has steadily risen since his draft year. He’s a smooth mobile skater who makes an excellent first pass and isn’t afraid to join the rush. Like Rafalski, who he models his game after, he isn’t the biggest player on the ice, but he uses his intelligence and body position to break down plays in his own end and rarely makes a mistake with the puck. He scored 20 goals among his 54 points in 62 regular season games and was a plus-28 – illustrating his commitment to the weakest part of his game.
His leadership abilities have also matured as he was named captain of his Western Hockey League major junior team, the Regina Pats last year.
Pyett is slated to begin his pro campaign this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.
The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup on the strength of their intelligent, puck-moving defense. It would appear they may have uncovered another cog that would fit perfectly into their system. Judging by the long strides Pyett has made in the past two seasons, his trip to the big-time could be a short one.