I haven't read AJ's post yet, because I didn't want mine to be tainted with his strange ideas. Dario's tweets, either. However, since we sat next to each other at camp, watched the same drills, and shared the same conversation, I suspect that our take-aways will be quite similar.
Since the scrimmages we saw were basically pick-up games with really good dudes, I just plan on spewing some of my overall impressions of the kiddies, as well as how some of the vets performed on the ice. I'll probably be back both tomorrow and Thursday too, so I will likely be back to write more of the same styled impressions about the youngsters. Here are my notes, in the order that I wrote them, and probably [edit: definitely. sorry.] with some terribly confusing tense-switches:
- Landeskog was the first guy on the ice, wearing #92. I think he even beat Coach Quinn and his assistant coach, whatever his name is.
- Rutkowski, Elliott, and Siemens all looked pretty big when they first got out there. Of course, thats without any NHLers on the ice, and it only lasted until the grown folk came to play. Siemens is a thin kid; if he really is 204lbs, he is going to fill out to a really solid, tall dude.
- Exercise 1: Three guys snake the near-zone dots, roll down-ice, and take three shots on goal from three different angles. Pickard was to our left, and Aittokallio to the right. I will leave all of the goalie assessments to Justin's superior eye, and just jot down some impressions of the guys:
- Malone, Landeskog, Barrie and Elliott all look strong in this drill. They started out skating far better than the other guys out there, and it took everyone else a few minutes to get their legs under them. Maybe some of it was nerves and whatnot, but those four stood out to me right away. Meurs had problems keeping the puck on his stick; he kept missing his shots as he tried to settle down.
- Exercise 2: Neutral zone quick passes, rush on goal from the blue line. Meurs looked sloppy still, and seemed mad at himself. Elliott has a great shot, but I noticed him keeping his eyes on the puck and his head wasn't swiveling. I know its only drills, but dude, you are gonna get laid out if you fall back into that during a game. Both of Elliott's best shots were right in front of us during this drill: low circle to Aitto's glove side, wrister top shelf, where momma keeps the cookie jar. He's got that shot dialed in. Strong skater. The force is strong with this one.
- Siemens has a great top gear when he gets going; I know that Dario posted some video on it, so its likely not news around here anymore, but he looked really strong on his skates. A little gangly, like a lot of tall teenagers, but if he can keep that stride as he grows into his weight, he will be able to move. Landeskog looks smooth as butter out there, strong on his skates and confident. Very mature.
- Exercise 3: Full ice drill; circle the neutral zone along the blue lines, with a couple of angled passes to the guys waiting in line, and then a rush to the paint. Rutkowski looked poor out there on this one. Meurs looked better than he did in the first couple, and is actually calming down. Watching Seimens some more, while he has the size and skating skill, he is a couple years out for sure. He still has a good bit of that puppy-floundering, but he was working hard out there. He has really good flashes, and a good first stride. Landeskog's skating is NHL ready. His shot, too. Barrie looks really confident in his turns, too, with a nice cross-over and lean. Confident.
- Exercise 4: This was a complicated two-man lap with a lot of passes that kept my head twisting; its essentially setting up a 2-on-1, but without anyone really trying to pass across the ice. I really should learn the names of some of these drills. The guys seemed to have some trouble with its complexity too, but part of it may have just been that the guys were tired. Landeskog looked like he was having fun out there. Elliott's wrister rears its glorious head again. Man, he's got that one on lock. I know it'll only be good until the D decides to stop it from happening, but it could be dangerous.
- Rutkowski, Muers still looked sloppy. They really caught my eye. I noted Brennen for the first time too; not much of an impression. Decidedly meh. This was a point where I noticed some exuberant competion with Pickard. I don't know how much of it was some good, old-fashioned, competitive, alpha male testosterone binging, but I noticed several times where guys would stand there at the end of the drill and keep pecking away at the puck while he was trying to get set for the next dude coming down. Dario and I noticed a hand-tossed rebound that seemed to upset Calvin quite a bit. But the one that really stood out to me was one guy made his shot, and then intentionally sprayed Pickard with about four pounds of snow. He had to take his mask off to get it out of his eyes, and glared at everyone. Interesting.
That was about all for the rookie drills. I talked about the big 4 prospects a lot, and about a couple of the guys that didn't look as good. But there weren't really that many guys out there to talk about. I did take some notes about the scrimmages, altho they should be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt, considering the circumstances:
- Bordeleau is out there; He looks big, and spent some time stretching and talking to Landeskog.
- Giguere is out there; it feels really good to see him on the ice, actually. A really solid, steadying presence.
- Liffiton is wearing the number 4 and it freaks me out.
- Luke Walker is out there, doing his best pirate impression; I keep thinking that he's Mueller, but Mules doesn't seem to be out today.
- Jan Hejda was playing on the east rink; big dude, smooth skater.
- The first day of camp is weird for me; the vets aren't wearing numbered jerseys, and for guys that I don't recognize (in this case, McClement), confuse me until I can catch the number on the back of the helmet. Its 16. I still have Darcy Tucker syndrome.
- Good to see the vets out there. Stazzer, Gali, Yip, etc. They looked happy to be back on the ice.
- Siemen's outlet pass isn't very good when you see it under pressure. At least, not in this situation.
- I watched Hejda take part in some offensive drills, and he did not seem to have his heart in it at all. He kinda chipped the puck in at the goal. Do the motions, move on. I'm a Dman, I live down there; can't be bothered with this.
- Kobasew sighting, west rink. He looks ok, nothing flashy as of yet. Skates circles around the rookies, as you might expect.
- Seeing they guys skate and interact, the rookies look like babies among men. The vets are good with them tho, talking it up and laughing. Bordy is biiig, you really start to see it during times like these. But he can play, too. Decent passing, decent shot.
- Gally looks good out there. He looked good in last year's camp too, and its mostly because he's giving more than a lot of the other vets. Strong on his skates, good reflexes. Maybe chugging shots sharpens them in his case. :)
- Landeskog looks right at home with the vets. He's NHL ready.
- Wilson is letting his mane get out of control. I love it. Its almost like vintage Ryan Smyth out there, golden locks streaming from the back of his helmet. Oh, he looked ok on the ice, too.
- Hejduk looks amazing, as always. Dangles in between three rookies and rips one passed Trevor Cann. Look, boys, heres how a real NHLer does it.
- Duchene doing goofy between the legs shots and stuff, treating it exactly like what it is: a pick up game with really good dudes.
- Duke scores, Gally scores, Duchene scores. Dutchie and Duke are on the same line; thats just not fair to those poor kids. Gally is out there with Lindstrom.
- Speaking of His Imaginary Awesomeness himself, Lindstrom looks ok. Not the great white hope or anything, but he assisted on like three of Gally's goals. It was hard to mark him without a number, honestly. He plays like Kobasew, I kept confusing them since I don't know what either one looks like, or even if they are righties or lefties.
- On the east rink, Jones and Stastny are just clowing poor Sami Aitto. He's not ready for what they are bringing. Its the end of the day, the rookies are all tired, and the vets just keep amping it up. Duke and Duchene on one side, Stats and Jonsey on the other. Puck handle in and out of the kids like they are just pylons, passing between skates, barely even trying to score. Not really picking on the kids, but showing them how much they have to learn.
Aaaand thats it for day 1. I'm not into the whole brevity thing, but now that the groundwork is laid, I'm not sure subsequent installments will be quite as verbose. Anyway, welcome back to hockey, boys and girls!