Getzlaf in blue, Jen in peanut gallery, Arthur aware he needs to buy a Flip camera
Anaheim Calling to the hockey world...
Training Camp is off to a solid start for the Anaheim Ducks. I have a lot of concerns, but mostly I'm excited for the upcoming season. Yesterday, Robby offered the perspective of a first timer at training camp. I'd like to take a second to encourage everyone to attend training camp, if you have not done so already. I know it's not always convenient, but it will expand your knowledge of the game exponentially. Watching drills, as opposed to the fast pace of a game, can help you focus on individual skills, quick shots, stick handling, skating. Moreover, if you go on a weekday, you might be lucky enough to hear Carlyle explain what he wants players to do with the puck, and where he wants them to be on the ice. Finally, training camp affords the opportunity to see the players of the future. It can be frustrating as a fan when a prospect gets moved in a trade and you don't really know anything about him. Well, here's a remedy.
Alright, now that I'm done promoting training camp. Let me tell you that I'm not a first time attendant and I'm going to do things a little bit different this post. I'm going to break the players into some fairly arbitrary categories and talk about the day they had. I'm also going to avoid talking about some of the key players. Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Selanne, Koivu, and Visnovsky all looked pretty good. I'm going to try to focus on some different guys after the jump.
The 2010 Draft Class: The top picks from this year's draft who made it to camp.
Cam Fowler: Fowler has been the focus of a lot of talk this camp, since a few people think he will be sticking around full-time in Anaheim this year. Carlyle has admitted that Fowler has "unique abilities" that could help the team this year. I think Fowler played very well. He kept a lot of plays in front of him, he can definitely skate well, and made a few really good stick checks. You can tell he modeled his game after Niedermayer. Although, he he did get shaken by Josh Green during a drill. Still, when I think of Fowler, I think of something Arthur told me when I said that Smith-Pelly had a great chance to make the team this year as a bottom 6 guy, the potential is so great, do you really want to waste it doing bottom 6 work? That's a paraphrase that he can get angry at me for later. The point is still sound. If Fowler makes the team, he'll probably be on the bottom pairing. Wouldn't he be better served on the top pairing in Windsor? Ideally, he'd be on the top pair in Syracuse with Matt Clark, but age restrictions will prevent that. Fowler, might be one of those guys who's too good for Juniors, but can't yet play in the AHL. He's got all the tools though.
Emerson Etem: Etem can fly on the ice. I swear he's got the hockey equivalent of Hermes' sandals. That hunched-over stride is ugly, but he was beating everybody to the puck. During the scrimmage he was at the red line, and Festerling was at the blue line. Both were chasing down a puck heading into the zone. Etem almost beat Festerling to it. The kid bounced right up off the ice when Stephane Veilleux plastered him against the boards, and even took a little run at the veteran later in the scrimmage. He made a great pass that led to a Matt Beleskey goal, his second point in two scrimmages, and looked great on a line with Koivu and Belesekey. I think the best news about Etem is that he didn't look lost on the ice. He wasn't overpowered or star struck and I think that's a great sign for a young scorer. My major problem with Etem is that he settles too quickly for his wrist shot. he kept shooting from the circles and that's just not going to get it done. He really needs to find the drive to stick handle, not just skate, inside.
Smith-Pelly in blue
Devante Smith-Pelly: WOW! This kid really stood out to me. He was hitting everything that moved. A lot of young guys will make big runs and not really get the body. Not DS-P. His presence was felt. More importantly, he can really shoot the puck. The word I used in my notes was "sneaky." He gets it off quick, and it goes through goalies. Watching him shoot, pucks seemed to just go through netminders. He kept up with his defensive assignments, pressured defenders on the forecheck, and had a very productive day. I really think the kid has what it takes.
Returning Faces: Guys who came to camp last year.
Luca Sbisa: I honestly forgot how good Sbisa really is. He's got phenomenal skating ability, a good shot, and he should probably be playing in our top 4 this year. There's just one problem. I think he, too, knows he's supposed to be good. At times, he seemed to play as if his spot was a foregone conclusion instead of something he was trying to earn. Overall, I didn't have a problem with his game, but I feel he should have stood out more. Still, can't deny that he was probably the second-best skating defender behind Visnovsky.
Matt Clark: I've been really high on Clark, and I think he was invisible in all the right ways. He blocked a few shots, made some good checks, and was good at keeping his stick in front of defenders. I just love the way Clark plays on the blue line. He sees plays so well, and he thinks about what's going on. He doesn't make a move unless he's sure of the outcome. When something does go wrong, like losing an edge, he doesn't panic. The kid is just so together. In terms of skill, he might be a year out, but in 2-3 years Anaheim fans would love a pairing of Clark and Fowler.
Peter Holland: The difference between Holland's confidence this year and last year is almost inspiring. That last year at Guelph did wonders for him. He still has trouble getting into the crease, a serious problem for a guy of his size, but I feel better that he wasn't forcing plays or dancing with the puck along the boards. He made strong decisions and played with energy and direction. He's looking great and will have a fantastic final year in Guelph.
Nicolas Deschamps: Another Ducks prospect who tore up the CHL last year, Deschamps has the goods. He's moved to the wing at this year's camp, and he looks good there. I didn't see any of the playmaking skills I noted last camp, but he played well on a line with Bobby Ryan and Big Sexy. No distinguishing offensive plays, but no major mistakes either. He'll be playing in Syracuse this year and should be having a second solid statistical season.
Nick Bonino: I think Bonino was the player I was most disappointed in today. He was forcing too many plays, and he just looked uncomfortable. He forced passes down low, made poor shot choices and just couldn't fall into a good rhythm. The talent is still there, but he just didn't look like the Bonino I saw in a Ducks sweater at the end of last season.
Some New Faces: Guys who are new to camp.
Palmieri in blue
Kyle Palmieri: Kyle did briefly visit camp last year, but in order to maintain NCAA eligibility (and not pay for his stay), left early. Thus, he is in this category. Watching this kid reminds me of Theo Fleury. Yeah, Kyle's tiny, but he's still strong on his skates. He's tenacious and doesn't quit on plays. He has a wonderful wrist shot. I think he's destined to entertain the fans in Syracuse this year, but he'll be in a Ducks' sweater before long.
Stephane Veilleux: I paid extra attention to Veilleaux because Eric Stephens thought he made an impression on day one. I wanted to do a follow up and see if I would be as impressed as Eric. I was. For those who don't know, Stephane is a checking/energy guy who played most of his career in Minnesota before doing a stint in Tampa Bay last year. He picked a few corners during the drills and didn't hesitate to hit anybody he could get in his sights. He drew the ire of Todd Marchant when he buried Etem during the scrimmage. But I liked his fire. I certainly noticed him more than the recently acquired Aaron Voros. I like him to make the 23-man roster as fourth liner or reserve forward.
Danny Syvret: Yeah . . . I don't know what he's doing here. I'm sure he'll be helpful for the Crunch. When I did notice Syvret, he seemed to be trying to do something offensive, and not reallly succeeding at it. We should be spending time looking at other blueliners into the lineup, like...
Jake Newton: Newton looked much better in the rookie tournament than he did at camp today. I saw him fall for a couple of moves and his shot didn't seem to be getting through as much. Specifics escape me right now, but I just remember thinking that Newton was having an uncharacteristically rough day based on what I have heard about him.
That's all I'm going to cover in this post. I'm sure you're tired of reading my opinions by now, and I didn't cover everyone I wanted to. But Arthur and Jen were there, and I'm sure they'll add on in the comments. If anyone else was in attendance wants to add on, or if there are players you want extra info on, just drop something into the comments.