DETROIT, Mich. – After his first season in Grand Rapids last year, Thomas McCollum got a taste of professional hockey. But for the former first round pick, nothing compares to playing at Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s always special to come to this building,” the 20-year old netminder told WXYZ Thursday. “Being my third time here, you kinda have to show the younger guys where to go.”
Taking a leadership role has been easy for McCollum. He may only be 20 years old with just one year of professional hockey under his belt, but the highly-regarded prospect carries a unique confidence. He said being at the annual Development Camp has been an enjoyable time to mingle with other Red Wing draft picks.
“It helps immensely. It makes things go much more smoothly, because everybody knows everyone a little bit,” said McCollum. The young goalie also noted the group Detroit players who have played in Grand Rapids have been going to Tigers games together.
It may be a while before McCollum gets to the NHL, but the 30th overall pick in the 2008 Draft has unlimited potential. He said he is learning from the example fellow Griffin alumnus Jimmy Howard set for him. Howard made the jump to his first full NHL season last year, and was an NHL Rookie of the Year finalist. His backup, longtime Red Wings backstopper Chris Osgood, is someone McCollum has also looked to for advice. He said he has had conversations with Osgood and looks forward to more.
In 30 games with Grand Rapids last year, McCollum went 10-16-2 with a 3.48 goals against aveage.