My overall thoughts and impressions from prospect camp this year:
- This collection of prospects might be the deepest I’ve seen in the last five years. All three goalie prospects have solid NHL potential and there are probably 5-6 defenseman with good odds of having decent pro careers and 8-10 forwards who could see time in the NHL, if not more. Those are good percentages because the reality is that no team can pull together a list of 329 prospects and say all 29 will make it to the NHL. It just doesn’t happen.
- Almost every player that was asked to compare this year’s camp to past versions said the off-ice sessions were more physically demanding, and past year’s weren’t easy.
- The most brutal part of the off-ice workouts was the dreaded treadmill test. Players were warned about it ahead of time and told to practice it before coming to camp. How did it work? The treadmill incline was set at 10 and the speed was set at 10. Players got on and ran for as long as they could. Then they got a two-minute break and did it again. And again. And Again until they had done eight sets with a two minute break between each set. Players were judged on their total combined time and the top two performers based on what the players said were Jimmy Bubnick and Ivan Telegin. Many players said a lot of guys came close to vomiting afterward but nobody would say anyone did until I asked Vinny Saponari who had no problem admitting he was ill by the end of it. His total time was in the seven-minute range and he said that was middle of the pack. Bubnick got over 10 minutes.
- I watched some gym sessions and Carl Klingberg and Jordan Samuels-Thomas both have NHL bodies now, as does Patrice Cormier. From a physical standpoint Cormier reminds me of Zach Bogosian in his first camp. He just looked like an NHL player in a room full of prospects, although Bogosian was the youngest player in camp when he was there and Cormier is 20.
- Ivan Telegin looks like he was built in a Russian hockey factory. Ridiculously cut and lean with room to keep growing.
- Defenseman Cody Sol was listed at 6-4, 192 in his draft bio in the spring of 2009. He was 215 lbs in training camp last year. This week he was tipping the scales around 245 lbs, and it’s all muscle. He’s a big, big kid.
- Alex Burmistrov is just as skilled as advertised. His puck skills are amazing and he has blazing speed that was obvious even though he hadn’t skated in about three months before coming to camp.
- The most improved players from past camps were Ben Chiarot who is in much better shape than he was in last summer, John Albert, who has gotten a lot stronger, and Chris Carrozzi who was much more focused and confident this time around. Danick Paquette has also made huge strides- literally. His biggest weakness has always been his skating but he’s put in a lot of work and gotten to the point where you don’t notice it anymore. That’s a big improvement for a guy who was clearly one of the weaker skaters at past camps.
- Akim Aliu is a great blend of size and speed and he worked hard on and off the ice in camp. He’s a quiet guy in the locker room but very willing to talk hockey when approached. It’s going to be interesting to see where he fits in the fall.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I post interviews with most of the prospects. What were your thoughts on camp?