[promoted. thanks Doc! - Joe]
I'm certainly not as qualified or in the know as Jori is about the Avs' system, but I was at the development camp today (Saturday). Honestly, I was a little disappointed. There wasn't much actual play occurring, just drills, so it was difficult to really get a feel for some of the players. Rookie camp is much better in this regard -- they run drills then just scrimmage. On the other hand, there's no college prospects at rookie camp, so it's your only real chance to see them with the Avs.
- As Jori says, the 2 prospects expected to outshine the others did, for certain. Hensick was head and shoulders above most of his group on all drills, and Jones made pretty much everyone around him look silly, even though he still can't finish consistently. They're both ready. Hensick lost an edge on one drill and went hard into the boards, which clearly hurt him a lot...but he didn't miss a drill. Good man.
- Two of the guys I most wanted to see were Shattenkirk and Mercier -- I've heard a lot about them various places. Well, they're both for real. Shattenkirk is on the smaller side for sure, but he was aggressive and well-positioned on D, and a smooth skater with great puck-handling and passing skills. He ate up just about everyone on the 1 on 1 drills. I'd guess he's about 2-3 years out, but he looks like a good bet on the main squad.
- Mercier was a little more raw than Shattenkirk -- for example, he didn't look to be as smooth a skater as the top forward prospects -- but he's an intriguing prospect still. He's got a great shot, did every drill like a maniac and has good wheels. He really tore it up on the shooting drills. I don't know that he's a lock for the main squad, but he might be a good 3rd liner. A member of my party commented on his pass receipt ability, that the puck just stuck to his stick -- and once I looked for it, I was stunned. Even on bad passes, he got great shots off.
- Some of the other college guys I noticed were Cohen and Carey. Both are raw, but there's certainly potential there. Cohen especially has the right body type for the NHL. Cohen got yapped at a couple times on the skating drills, he's got some work to do there. Tessier was there, he's like a mini-Mercier...and Mercier is pretty small already. Good skills though.
- Our goalies...well, our goalies. Granato and Hackett were on one side of the ice with much of the rest of the staff working with the goalies for about a third of the time. Some drills looked pretty basic -- shot from the point, followed by someone rushing from a corner -- others were pretty crazy. The craziest was a little half-moon of 20ish pucks around the crease, with some coach just snatching them at random and throwing them at the unfortunate goalie.
Trevor Cann looked pretty good, but not great. Sauer, Patterson and Keserich aren't very good imo. Delmas was up and down -- during one drill, the goalies had to move to one of 5 positions in the crease at a coach's rapid fire calls. Most of the goalies handled it ok (Sauer is slow :( ), but Delmas inspired murmuring from the crowd with his speed and quickness (exclamations from my loud-ass self). But later, during a relatively simple drill involving slap shots from around the blue line, he REALLY struggled with his blocker, letting in a lot of really simple shots. His body language was not good after either...but Hackett handled it well, pulling him aside. Hackett looked to be doing lots of good coaching (but how can you really tell). He's really skinny too, looked kind of like a pyramid with giant pads, no torso, and a mask on top. tall though. he'll probably fill out. I hope.
- JD Corbin got pulled aside for almost the entire drill time to work on his skating with whoever does the skating stuff (holy crap can he skate, whoever he is). He actually looked pretty decent out there, as did Rob Drummond. Both caught my eye more than once.
- Chris Stewart looked significantly faster out there, and his touch around the net was unrivaled. But even though you could tell he'd worked on it, his skating was AWFUL. About Wes O'Neil level. Most of the players could handle some of the nasty skating drills, even if they were hard...he couldn't at all. At one point he fell over and wiped out someone else in a nasty collision. They looked pissed. He was sheepish about anything involving skating.
He looked like someone that didn't grow up skating like everyone else -- but he's functional in games and drills enough to enable his incredible hands. I just can't figure out whether holding him in the AHL is the right thing to do or not -- he could score in the NHL, no doubt, but would his skating be too much of a liability?
- FG was there, just sitting with the fans. I almost went up to him and asked him to trade Arnason (a member of my group offered me $10 to)...but I decided it would be a little too redneck, and he was there with one of his kids. I'm regretting it now, it would have been hilarious.
- I was bummed Nigel Williams and TJ Galiardi weren't on the ice (Williams was there in street clothes presumably hurt, Jori informed me Galiardi was hurt). Davey Jones ran all over our tiny D, a couple people sitting near me commented that Nigel had prevented him from doing it the day before by putting him on his ass.
- Cloutier runs a tight ship man, he was all over the D during drills. If they didn't outlet pass correctly he stopped everything until they got it right. He was very vocal.
- Final anecdote -- Jones and Shattenkirk were on the same side of the ice for one on one drills. Jones was smushing everyone and getting to the net with ease, no one could get past Shattenkirk even slightly (no shots even). Finally they matched up...and Jones got Shattenkirk to bite, slipped the puck right between his legs and shouldered past him for a wide open shot just above the crease...which he shot right into the goalie's chest as usual. Shocking. A cool moment though -- and welcome to the big leagues, Kevin.
That's all I got! I snapped some pics and took some video, maybe I'll stick it up later if it turned out...but my batteries died so I have to go get some from the store to see it, so maybe later tomorrow. If you have questions about any other players or whatever, ask away and I'll try to remember. Nice to meet you again Jori!