Today's rookie camp brought to you by the number 9.... I'm very clever and original.
I went on a twitter-fest at camp which is fun and frustrating all at once. You can't watch as much when you type on the iphone. Maybe that applies to the blackberry too, I wouldn't know. Before I go over what I saw, I just want to say that camp at this point can't tell you what kind of player a guys is going to be in a real NHL game. You can't simulate the physical nature of the NHL playing shinny or doing drills. You can however, evaluate skating, puck handling, vision and shot making potential etc...
The next thing is that the culture of this camp was completely different than previous years. Sacco ran the rookie camp instead of Quinn. Generally the AHL coach runs the rookie camps. Sacco was all business, as was Deadmarsh. There was no joking around or even a cracked smile. It was a quiet bunch of rookies this year because that's the tone Sacco has set. Basically Sacco would yell out a drill and then they ran it. It would be followed by laps and Deadmarsh would bang his stick on the boards to drive them to go faster. No one on one breakouts to work on this or that. It was as serious as a heart attack out there. The next huge change was that the pros scrimmaged against the rookies after camp. I've never, ever seen the Avalanche do this. It was really great to see because you would hope it would relieve some tensions and help the rookies better showcase their skills when training camp and preseason start. Sadly, this is also the first volunteer pro scrimmage session that wasn't run by Sakic. Because there were so many players they took both rinks. Foote ran the West rink and it looked like Stastny might have been running the East rink. Though maybe Tucker was running it via looking annoyed.
Duchene isn't just a fast skater, because guys like Tessier and McNicoll are also fast. The thing with MD's skating is that he's got really quick feet. Some guys like Svatos get their feet moving fast but they aren't getting anywhere particularly quickly. Duchene is for lack of a better term, quick. He's quick on his first step and he's fast as hell at top speed. The nice part is he doesn't slow down when the puck gets on his stick. That's what makes him so special as a skater. Some guys can do one or two of those things but not all of them. During some of the scrimmages that happened after rookie practice you could see Duchene is also strong on his skates. You know how you can tell when a player is going to take on the whole team by himself come hell or high water? You've seen that body language in guys like Jones, Arnason or Svatos in the past. They hunch their shoulders, bury their head and start making moves towards the net. Well, Duchene gets this look all the time when he's got the puck on his stick. But, unlike a lot of guys that do this he's shifting gears in the scoring zone and looking to make a pass. As many times as you watch him do it, it kind of takes me off guard. I hate to make the comparison because it's not fair, but he gets that Forsberg look. It's kind of like he's when Foppa would look like he's going to bull rush the zone. Everyone gravitates towards him or watches him and then he just feeds to the open guy. It's the subtlties of Duchene's playmaking with his skating that's going to make him a special pro. He's got a hard shot and all that but he's a hard player to read.
Mercier was impressive today. He skates with determination and energy. It looks like he's competing on every drill and every shift on the scrimmages. He displayed some really impressive shot making. We'll see how well that translates during full contact.
Stoa is the real deal. I think he's going to make the team for certain. He's in the right spots and has a complete skill set for a big guy.
O'Rielly doesn't stand out in drills. He's not going to be in any skills competitions but he shines in the scrimmages. He's strong on the puck and takes it to the scoring areas. He's not dancing around the outside. Sometimes, like McLeod guys are just hockey players. O'Rielly might start in Lake Erie but you can imagin a monster 3rd / 4th line in the future with him, Mercier, and maybe a guy like Yip down the road.
Didn't catch much of Yip until the scrimmages. You can tell he wants to lay the wood to some guys but games of shinny just don't allow it. He had a couple of nice goals. Has a real heavy wrist shot.
I can't judge defensemen well during these things. The defensemen that could skate looked good. A kid like Gaunce, you can't really tell anything about yet because they aren't allowed to hit or pinch guys on the boards really. One name I do want to mention is the kid we picked up from Calgary last March named Ryan Wilson. He's got a really good stick and skated really well in shinny. He just stuck out.
I thought Sauer looked solid, perhaps the best of all the prospect goaltenders playing today.
Galiardi looked confident and even cracked some smiles when he lost an edge. That's saying something for such a serious camp. On one particular drill he was rushing up the ice and he took a bad pass behind him, did a spin-o-rama and made a good feed to the open man. Here's a little fact for the ladies (and Dater :)). Galiardi looks like he's kind of "thin" because he's not wearing an undershirt like every hockey player in the world. So his jersey sticks to him. I don't think he wears any of those abs protectors with his shoulder pads either. How do I know this? From last year's final game where the players have to give the jerseys off their backs to the fans. He was the only dude not wearing a shirt under his gear. He took some ribbing from his teammates that night. I'm guessing his nickname is stink. Anyway, I've noticed a lot of people comment that he needs to put on some weight. I think his unique method of air conditioning is contributing to that belief. Too much info?
That's all I can recall off the top of my head. If anyone has questions about a particular player I'll try to answer.