Felix, CJ, and Jake were on hand to watch Day 2 of Ducks training camp at Anaheim Ice on Saturday, September 15th, and the scrimmage on Day 3 of camp at Honda Center on Sunday, September 16th. The following are the main impressions and takeaways from the 2 days at camp.
(For everyone’s information, none of the regulars from the Ducks roster played in the scrimmage on Saturday. The players in that game who were in the NHL last season were Jaycob Megna, Marcus Pettersson, Troy Terry, Carter Rowney, Joseph Blandisi, Giovanni Fiore, and Kevin Roy)
Training Camp Format
New assistant head coach Marty Wilford was running the practice with the non-injured players instead of Randy Carlyle, who ran these camp practices in the past. As a disclaimer, it is possible that Carlyle ran the drills on day 1 of the camp, but nevertheless it was something noticeable.
Among the drills that were run by the coaching staff, many were focused on the transition aspect of the game from both the offensive and defensive side of the puck (Carlyle during the practice actually yelled at the players on the ice for group 2 about their gap control on players entering the defensive zone). For all of the talk over summer about a change in play style, it was a positive sign to see that the organization is backing up that talk.
Battles for the Open Wings
With Patrick Eaves not being ready for the start of camp and Nick Ritchie still not being under contract, there are two open roster spots on the wing. There were a few wingers who set themselves apart in the battle for these open wing spots.
Troy Terry showed his puck handling skill and creativity on both days of the weekend, and Ryan Getzlaf post-camp took him aside to talk to him for a good 5 minutes about what looked like defensive zone structure (see below tweet). This is not something an established veteran would do to a no-name rookie destined for the AHL. Terry seems to have the inside track for one of the two open spots on the wing.
Maxime Comtois potted two goals in the scrimmage on Sunday and was all over the ice while on a line with Sam Steel and Joseph Blandisi. The 2nd round pick from 2017 showed why a lot of experts thought the Ducks getting him in the second round was a major steal in the draft. He found himself in dangerous positions all over the ice on Sunday and was able to release the puck very quickly. If he continues to play like this the rest of camp, he is going to force management into a tough decision on whether to send him back to junior or keep him up and give him 9 games.
Joseph Blandisi was the second winger on that line in the scrimmage, and he also was impressive. He set up Comtois for his goal with a very nice pass from below the goal line. If management decides it is best to send Comtois back to junior for the year, Blandisi might benefit the most from it.
Kevin Roy left the third period with an injury, but we should mention him in the discussion for one of these spots. He played in 25 games for the Ducks last season and you could see the difference in experience between him and other members in the scrimmage. He is probably lower on the list of players to fill the open role, but he is in the conversation.
Getzlaf and Terry having a solid chat right now pic.twitter.com/wnjuu2lgy7— Jake Rudolph (@ReindeerGames91) September 15, 2018
Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves
Both Kesler and Eaves skated with players doing non contact drills on Day 1 and 2 of camp. From reports on Friday and what we saw on Saturday, Kesler’s skating stride was noticeably shorter and the explosion was not necessarily there on crossovers. He seems to be at a similar level as he was during last season. Eaves on the other hand seemed to be in good shape. He was not very explosive on crossovers, but the quickness was there. This was a very good sign about his ability to come back from what was a terrifying year for him and become a regular NHLer again.
Sam Steel Impresses
With the open center spot due to Kesler’s injury, Steel is in the driver’s seat to make the Ducks roster. On Saturday he was on a line with Perry and Rakell for all of the drills and did not look out of place at all. On Sunday, he was the pivot on the most impactful line of the game. His quickness, smarts, and skill were on display all weekend, but he is not a guy that is going to wow you each and every game. He is effective with everything he does and makes his teammates look better.
- Equipment changes: This might seem minor to most people but to the gearheads this is interesting. Gezlaf appears to have ditched the old Bauer 4500 lid and replaced it with his sponsor, Warrior, helmet (I could not tell if it was the Alpha or Covert). Perry has made the change from Warrior (his brand of choice since Easton Hockey went away) to Bauer. Patrick Eaves is now rocking Bauer gear after years of wearing Warrior.
- Jacob Larsson is being used on the right side of the ice even though he is a lefty. He has not exactly looked comfortable in the two days of camp and it could be because of this. It seems like Pettersson has the upper hand for the left D spot on the 3rd pairing right now.
- Isac Lundestrom has been impressive. A lot of us were down on the Ducks using a 1st round pick on him because he seemed a bit safe (a lot of scouts project him as a two-way middle 6 center). That evaluation seemed to undersell his talent. He did not look out of place during Saturday or Sunday and showed flashes of skill that were unexpected. The Ducks may have an average to very good center at the NHL level in Lundestrom.
- Kiefer Sherwood was all over the ice in a positive way on Saturday. He most likely will be in the AHL all season, but he is someone to keep an eye on.