[Promoted from the FanPosts with a link added - Joe]
So I went to rookie camp on Monday. I quickly found Jori and proceeded to talk her ear off. I should be no suprise that Jori has a real passion for prospects and hockey in general. We are really lucky to have someone in the Avs blogging community who will drive through rush hour traffic on I-25 to make rookie camp and then twitter and blog and all that stuff. I also got to meet Eva there as well. Avalanche women know their sport.
Anyway, I generally like to see two or more camps before I give my opinion on prospects. However, I'm an opinionated guy and I can't help but tell everyone how much I know about so very little.
First, the NHL club showed up half way through training camp and those boys were skating on the other ice sheet. It looks like the whole team was playing over there. For those that haven't witnessed it first hand. It's just the guys playing and no one else. No coaches, no trainers and no organization beyond what the guys put together themselves. I didn't stay long to watch as I wanted to catch the rookies for the most part. But Svatos seemed relatively strong on his skates even when Parker gave him some shoving in the corners during scrimmage. Ledin is goofy, did the faceoff at center ice by placing the puck on his helmet. Not unheard of practice when there's no officials but he probably can't speak a lick of English and he seems..um, comfortable. I like him already. I saw two quick, very impressive goals from um, Brian Wilsie. I think I quipped to Jori at the time, "don't peak too early Brian". Sakic was all smiles and Foote was doing the stern, yet joking routine that anyone who didn't know better would think was him being pissed off. It reminded me of five years ago for sure. Last thing, Dave Barr looks like he's going bad cop to Granato's good cop. He's got an awsome scowl. That's a good thing, everyone needs a Dave Lewis to make the bench salty. Sadly, no porn stach, can't have everything I guess.
Oh, the rookies. This is all first impression kind of stuff. I liked Dupuis, Fritsche and oddly enough Mark McCutcheon. I like that they do a lot of heads up skating and the skating in traffic doesn't seem "distracting" for lack of a better term. Rookies in camp that always concern me at those that start to watch the puck when they have possession and ones that lose a grip on the puck when they get in any kind of traffic. They seem to have to concentrate on their skating and can't put both puck handling and skating together as a package. Dupuis and Fritsche were just looking up and making plays, skating well and looked very sharp. All this goes without saying but Jones and Hensick were the best of camp. They do the afformentioned things by second nature so they concentrate on playmaking and defensive positioning etc... McCutcheon doesn't have a career of great production honestly but he looks bigger and skates well. Let me say this about Chris Stewart, he's got Jonas Johansson/Johnny Boychuk disease. It looked to me like he's skating with a sense of entitlement out there. He wasn't busting his ass. He looked like Bertuzzi out there with that glide. When he got the puck he'd suddenly find his work ethic but he also got tunnel vision. This kid is not going to dish out a ton of assists. It just didn't look right. Especially when you consider that sure-fire guys like Hensick and Jones are skating their balls off. Jori said he was better on Sunday. So maybe my impressions are missplaced and maybe he's not THAT guy. The one who struts through rookie camp only to find his ass on the way back to the AHL without even playing a shift in the Burgandy and White game.
On defense I'm really excited about Nigel Williams. He's a big guy that can skate! It's like been a lions age since the Avs have had anyone like that in their prospect pool. You can see that his shot is NHL quality. Even his effortless wrist shots pound off the boards with great velocity. He's one of those guys that just has the right leverage and feel for shots at the point. He's making good decisions on the offensive blue line and in the defensive zone when he's established his position. He did get burned a couple times on the rush. In my estimation he's got to use his size to his advantage here and close his gap with a better poke check. His stick positioning on both times I saw him beat was in a containment position to stop a cross ice pass. Vernace also looked really good to me as well. His skating is very natural and he looked to be one of the better transitional skaters. It looked very smooth and unforced. Montgomery looked good (I think, I had to refer to my cheat sheet so often on #s I started to get confused), he's looked like the best passer of the blue liners. I didn't notice Gaunce too much, didn't see anything bad but nothing great either.
Goaltending wise Keserich struggled, Cann looked pretty balanced but not real quick. Delmas owns the bottom of the net but gets absolutely abused on the high heat. One thing I didn't care for with all the prospect goalies is that NONE of them were talking. In fact, most of the guys on the ice seemed really tense and the communication on the ice was pretty thin. I can't say there were a whole lot of vocal guys out there from what I could tell. Of course it doesn't help when everyone from Francois Giguere to Tony Granato are sitting in that executive perch above the ice watching your every move. Not to mention the steely gaze of Dave Barr. That guy makes rookies cry at night I'm telling you.