The five days of camp were quite the spectacle. While the smaller number in this years crowd showed off individuals more, it was harder to separate the players into either A: likely NHL ready this year or next or B: not yet close. Like everyone else, my focus was first on the guys most likely to turn pro this season, second on the new draft class, and third on everyone else. With so many players, including six goalies and drills being run at both ends of the ice and sometimes in three lines, I didn’t get a chance to focus on everyone.
In the first group:
- Tommy Cross, unflappable puck handler, smooth, smart passes and over the years his willingness to throw the body has grown. Some have criticized his foot speed but the list of NHL guys without high end speed who have logged hundreds and hundreds of games isn’t short. Glenn Murray, Hal Gill, Mike Komisarek, Adam Foote are just a few on the list.
- Ryan Spooner, almost certainly both the best skater in agility and speed as well as the softest hands in camp. Solid shot too. Has clearly gotten stronger and filled out since being drafted.
- Jared Knight, still a fearless net driver, willing to trade hits with larger players and definitely plays bigger than his average size. One of the fitter players and was able to absorb hits from larger players, in a manner similar to Bergeron, without it shifting his balance.
- Dougie Hamilton, good straight line speed, good passer and not afraid to shoot, pinch or or go deep into the offensive zone. Made a nice hit crossing the blueline in scrimmage. Is off to the Worlds this summer.
- Alexander Khokhlachev while barred from contact in drills, and held out of scrimmages, his hands are undeniably gifted. Has bulked up a bit despite the time off. Unless he makes the NHL this year will be playing for the KHL team his father manages this year.
- Torey Krug, sealed off the boards well, went into traffic as needed and was also aware enough of more offensive minded defense partners to stay back when they pinched. It’s not a surprise why the Bruins signed him out of college.
- Malcolm Subban watching the action at Development Camp
This years draftees:
- Malcolm Subban, high end athleticism, not
- explosiveness but control. When you watch him move in the crease you get the feeling he could move the exact same distance fifty times while singing the national anthem. When I spoke to him I got the impression he listened very intently and that can’t hurt a goalies development.
- Matt Grzelcyk, of the defensemen, probably the most agile, showed good hands in several drills as well. Small but popped in and out of lanes well. He’s off to college this fall.
- Colton Hargrove good skater both in terms of movement and speed, made nice passes even on bad ice, willing to hit and be hit as well. Western Michigan University fans will get to watch him play this year.
- Cody Payne, while the most notable line on his stats in the PIMs he showed off more than you might expect. He’s played for Team USA internationally in the Ivan Hlinka so he certainly should be watched.
- Seth Griffith, shoot first, and second mentality, never looked out of place. Was tracked a bit better by TheOffWing, but I noticed him more and more as the week went on.
- Matthew Benning is one of those rare right shooting defensemen, was limited by a minor injury. On his juniors team he was in the top half in points per game, and had 87 PIMS. Clearly not a goon, but bears watching for his skill.
- Robbie O’Gara is headed to Yale this fall, big body, better agility than some of the smaller players. More than willing hitter who didn’t get out of position to do it.
- Adam Morrison, the recently signed goalie tracks the puck well and is not going to be beat along the ice. Moves the pads well even if both are flat.
- Niklas Svedberg, no beatings dished out this week, but he also didn’t get beat by many pucks. Aggressive play, willing to come out of the crease and just shrugged off physical contact.
- Wayne Simpson didn’t look out of place, handled the drills, physicality and the like quietly, had a huge open ice collision and shrugged it off. Also showed off some nice hands.
- Brian Ferlin two words best describe his game one is power the other is forward. Uses his body and brain.
- Ben Sexton, in body and scrimmage reminds me of Sean Bergenheim, compact and solid body, lower skating posture
- Parker Milner, stays upright a bit more than some goalies while down, good glove.
- Justin Courtnall, quiet competence, for some unknown reason attracted a lot of attention from other Hockey East players, displayed good on ice awareness and dropped back to cover for pinching defensemen frequently.
- Chris Casto, more a stay at home defenseman than guys like Hamilton or Krug.
- Anthony Camara, good size, straight line player, likely to annoy the hell out of the defenders he runs over.