Wings' Ferraro follows his dad in many ways
Last month, Landon Ferraro was one of 11 sons of former NHL stars selected in the amateur draft.
Ferraro had a “pinch-me” moment when he entered the Red Wings’ locker room and saw the empty locker stalls of the team's stars. Ferraro is in Detroit for the Red Wings' week-long development camp at Joe Louis Arena.
“There is a (Henrik) Zetterberg [stall] across, and (Johan) Franzen and (Pavel) Datsyuk down there,” said Ferraro, who was 32nd overall draft pick last month. “It’s surreal seeing that I’m drafted on a team that has players such as these.”
The younger Ferraro began his competitive hockey career playing in Georgia when his father skated for the Atlanta Thrashers. Especially at that time, the Peach State was a non-traditional hockey market, meaning he had to spend his weekends traveling to other southern states. His mom racked up a lot of miles on her car, driving her son to games from Tennessee to Florida, from Alabama to the Carolinas. He saw the sport’s popularity improve in the three years he was in Georgia.
“When we first got there, our rink was 15 minutes away and the closest to that was about 45 to an hour,” Ferraro said. “By the time we left, we had three rinks within half-hour of us.”
This upcoming season will mark Ferraro’s third full year in the Western Hockey League, playing for the Red Deer Rebels. His team-leading 37 goals in 68 games is impressive when you consider he accounted for 22 percent of the Rebels’ offense. However, he still falls short to his father’s single-season record of 108 goals.
“Just seeing what my dad did in that league, I wanted to match it; 108 goals isn’t going to be matched ever again,” Ferraro said of following his dad into the WHL.
Like his father, Ferraro possesses a nose for the net. He is willing to forecheck aggressively and likes to get to the crease, popping in rebounds. In the first day of the Wings’ development camp, Ferraro thrived in the drills forcing players to drive to the net to snag rebounds and push for position in front of the crease.
The Wings’ management tends to value skating ability over size because of the team’s puck-possession style of play. Ferraro makes up for his 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame with speed. In the 2009 CHL’s Top Prospects Game, Ferraro skated an entire lap in a blistering 14.009 seconds to win the fastest skater competition. He also won the shooting accuracy contest so it comes as no surprise that Ferraro has a hard shot with deadly accuracy.
Despite holding a team-low minus-23 rating, Ferraro is known for his two-way play. His low plus/minus rating is likely due to the fact that he is on the ice against the other team’s top line and Red Deer finished 11th out of 12 teams in the Western Conference. In fact, the Rebels held a minus-78 goal differential highlighting the struggles the team had in their own zone.
“It’s a stat that I try not to look at too much,” he said. “It’s not that I wasn’t trying to keep the puck out of the net when I was on the ice, but certainly you’re on a struggling team and I was playing a lot and playing against the top guys.”
Assistant general manager Jim Nill projects Ferraro to be a second-line forward if all goes well, but it will take a lot of hard work to fulfill that prediction. Ferraro has plenty of people to turn to in the hockey world for help, improving his odds of making it into the NHL. Not only did his father play in the NHL, but his step-mom Cammi Granato has plenty of international experience in women’s hockey, winning a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and a silver medal in the 2002 Games.
The Red Wings drafted Ferraro’s Red Deer coach, Jesse Wallin, in the first round in 1996, giving him plenty of advice to share with Ferraro. Wallin advised Ferraro to strengthen his two-way game this past season if he wanted to go high in this year’s draft. Ferraro worked on just that, which is why he thinks he was drafted in the position he was.
“It’s hard to turn the subject away from the Red Wings when you talk to Jesse,” Ferraro said. “He loves his team more than anyone and it was a big part of his life. It’s unfortunate that it got cut short. … I know he was just as excited as I was to go here.”
The Red Wings will also guide Ferraro along the way. Detroit’s development camp is just one of the many ways the Wings’ organizations helps its prospects grow and develop. Director of player development and former Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer will monitor Ferraro’s progress, providing advice and support on how to improve both on and off the ice.
Christy Hammond is an intern in the Red Wings' New Media & Publishing Department at Joe Louis Arena.