Development Camp. If only those words conjured up memories of days gone by. Any memories at all. I came home with such a buzz it took about three hours for my ears to stop ringing. It was an exciting day
Camp was anything but informal today. Every organization member responsible for the team on ice showed up today. Bob Gainey and Pierre Boivin, Andre Savard, everyone. It was an important day.
I found this distracting. There I was supposed to be watching the players, but kept glancing at Gainey out of the corner of my eye. I finally realized how big the staff really is. There are a lot of them.
Once I got past the distractions, I managed to watch some hockey.
It is hard to understand the philosophy behind training camps. Of course, assessment takes place. For instance, there were several Team Canada scouts out today. But, above the ice level it was almost business as usual. The org huddled in a corner for about 10 minutes today.
The two most complete players on the ice today were Kostitsyn and Danis. Both of them are clearly superior to any competition that they faced.
Be assured that their status as top tier prospects is deserved. They are the real deal. There is no doubt.
Kostitsyn is really head and shoulders above everyone else in very nearly every category. He lacks the skating power to outmuscle larger competition during drills, and his defensive instincts need to be honed. Regardless, he showed why he is highly regarded today.
Kostitsyn is a treat to watch. He has a very smooth skating style and handles the puck without effort. He is the only player who manages the puck consistantly. He passes when in motion, not only gliding, so he can think while moving his feet. He knows what to do with the puck, when to do it, and can do nearly anything at top speed. He doesn’t miss the net.
His talent ceiling may be the highest since Saku Koivu. You would have to be blind and dumb to miss it. He makes defences look bad, and goalies even worse. It looks like he is intimidating the goalies. Some of his goals today would not have been good at the NHL level.
I’m sure it won’t be long before we see him in a Habs uniform.
Yann Danis is small for a modern goaltender, but his mechanics make up for it. His legs are fast, his lateral movement well controlled and precise. He handles the puck well, and cuts down shooting angles confidently. He can make it beyond the AHL. Rollie Melanson agrees if I don’t miss my guess. It was the other goalies that were receiving the bulk of his instruction today.
If you have already seen all the players for five days you would know who is in good shape and who is dogging it today.
Many of the other players showed skills as well. Korpikari showed resilience and poise. Cote has leadership qualities, while Archer and O’Bryne are all about upper body strength. There is one other skater who impressed me, and that is Olivier Magnan, a tryout from the Q. He showed really good rotation and finess for a defenseman his size.
At forward position there is a lack of size with skill. Chipchura is a lock for a career with the Canadiens since no-one can compete with his size. He also has a good shot, but it needs to be developed. Currently he can only shoot top left with consistency. He clearly had the edge on Maxim Lapierre today.