Hokay. The final day of Rookie Camp featured a lot more intensity and some really physical end of the day stuff as players finally got to cut loose a bit. Overall, quite a bit more hitting than the previous two days. This is going to be significantly shorter than the last two days because it was largely the same guys playing well and the same guys not. Still, I managed to focus on a couple different guys and by golly let's get to it.
Roman Will - I know I said I try to avoid saying too much about goalies but you factor in that Will has consistently been the best goalie the last three days and the fact that he's still adjusting to NA ice and I can't help but think the Avs might have found their diamond in the rough with this guy. Of all the overage and European guys the Avs have given a shot, I really liked Will the most over the course of the camp. Excited to see more from him as we move on.
Trevor Cheek - He's quietly been pretty solid all week but I really did enjoy watching him work today. As the physicality increased, so did the quality of his play. He's not a flashy guy at all but he works his ass off, never gives up, and today he consistently found ways to either get pucks on or in the net. How he holds up this weekend is going to be telling about what kind of weekend he has because I don't think the speed of the game will overwhelm him as much as it will some of the other guys. He seemed very comfortable out there and that he only got stronger the more the coaches threw at him is very encouraging.
Nate Condon - Another strong day for him as he built upon yesterday's performance and really turned his surging confidence into positive results on the ice. He bulled past a handful of helpless defenders and scored goals on plays that probably won't work against the big boys but it's damn good to see a guy realize he can play with a group of players and start to assert himself the way Condon did. I think he's going to really add a quality talent to Lake Erie this year as they rely less on guys like scoring machine Mitchell Heard.
The Usual Suspects - This is Rendulic, Bigras, Siemens, Geertsen, and Henley. All of them were pretty much more of the same, with Siemens struggling a bit at times before finding his game nicely during the ultra physical 2-on-2s to end the day. He looked great there. Rendulic is really something and if he can find a comfort zone in the smaller, more physical NA setting then the crafty Croatian could push for NHL time as soon as next season.
Kyle Wood - He started things off early on with a bang when he totally whiffed on a pass to end one of the first drills, followed it up by falling down 10 seconds later, and it really kind of the set the tone for his day. For a guy his size to get outmuscled as often as he did was troubling. His skating needs a ton of work, he was routinely beaten by guys in most every drill, and he was on the receiving end of several big hits. It might've been fatigue from an increasingly grueling 3 days on the ice but if that's the case, why wasn't it effecting anyone else so significantly? Wood definitely put in the most disappointing effort of the day in my eyes. His best play of the day came in the corner when he got drilled by Everberg but managed to get the puck up the wall and out.
Wilhelm Westlund - Finally got around to paying serious attention to him and boy did he disappoint. He wasn't solid moving the puck, was a mediocre skater, and was unspectacular and frequently worked over in the more physical drills. I can't speak much to his previous couple of days because I didn't notice him much at all but today I made the effort to watch him and he just didn't have it. Very unspectacular performance all day.
The Sometimes Ugly, Sometimes Not
Garrett Meurs - I should really rename this the "Garrett Meurs Try Hard" category because he keeps being the kind of guy to end up on this list due to his extreme swings in play. He's still a dynamic skater and carries a non-stop motor and typical small guy attitude but his limitations appear to be too severe to overcome at this point. I watched Rudy in the hours leading up to camp this morning and it seemed so fitting because during the very physical 2-on-2s to end the session, Meurs was constantly getting knocked on his ass but kept getting up and coming back for more. You love the fight and the heart but there's not a lot else happening there.
And that's it for me for reviewing Rookie Camp this year! Thanks a lot to everyone who has followed along, read, commented, and/or tweeted at me the last 3 days. As always, it's been a blast helping out and I hope to see many of you this weekend at training camp. This means you, Courtney ;D