This is one of the odder years at camp. There’s no clear star among the prospects. Most of the upper 20% of the roster are headed to college next year. I don’t see anyone with enough bouyancy that I can say “I can’t wait to see them at main camp in the fall.” It was also the most lightly attended by fans camp I’ve been to.
Of this year’s draft picks I got the most eyeball time on Quinn Olson, and Matias Mantykivi. Neither will be cracking the lineup anytime soon. Both are late birthdays with Olson turning eighteen on May 9th, and Mantykivi on June 21st. The latter played in Finland last year, and is listed at 143lbs, and five foot ten. If he were at his current size to block a shot in the NHL he might well miss time. Both are good skaters and receive passes well, make solid passes. Mantikivi needs to work on his shooting angles, Olson I didn’t see as much.
Of the 2018 draft picks I saw two standout. One positively, the other Dustyn McFaul. Early in the on ice session I saw him cutting corners on drills, and what appeared to be giving up. By the mid-point it was clear he was having some sort of conditioning or injury issue as he was clearly, visibly gassed. Fortunately for him, he’ll have at least a year or two in upstate New York to work out his issues while at Clarkson. Curtis Hall looked even better than last year. When I left camp at the end of 2018 I said he had an outside chance at squeaking into the 4th line. Today did nothing to detract from that and he showed better than the majority of the prospects in the drills shooting, passing, and above all timing both well.
If there is a threat among the forward crop to take a Boston job this fall, it is Oskar Steen. I’ve always liked his attitude, positioning, and skating. Over last year and this his shot and passing have elevated. You can tell just from watching him move that he’s put on more muscle, and learned to use it efficiently with and without contact with other players. He’s still far from the biggest guy on the ice but no one got an extra inch of room from him.
Marek Zachar is an undrafted invitee who had two seasons in the Q with the Sherbrook Phoenix and has since returned to Europe. His resume shouldn’t convince anyone he’s the next Martin St Louis, even if they are of like size, but there does appear to be something there. Matt Brown was likewise undrafted, and if the scoring leader for the Des Moines Buccaneers, and in the top 20 in the USHL for points, not to mention top 10 in goals wasn’t on people’s draft list, I’m curious to know why. The talk today was that he was sneaky good. If he can crack an NHL lineup in the future he might be the whiff of this years draft. Smooth, assertive, and clearly there for more than just to be seen.
Nick Wolff is fascinating to watch. Similar dimensions to Brandon Carlo, an attitude more like Connor Clifton, and very sound positioning. If he hasn’t already peaked in his development guys need to start getting nervous now. He could well be that rare four year college defenseman who makes the jump straight to the NHL without a year adjusting to the pro-life in the AHL. In addition to the defensive positioning that will buy him dinner, he showed off some hands with a nice pass and a couple stuffs that’ll spring for dessert.