Live from Thrashers Prospect Camp: Day 1
Of course it is only day one and some guy might have been more nervous than others but here are my impressions.
Alex Bourret: I expect him to make the NHL team out of camp and I saw nothing today that would change that expectation. He has great speed, puck handling skills and a nice shot. He’s Thrasherville with skills.
Bryan Little: He did not stand out of the crowd in my opinion. I’m not claiming he is a bust or anything of that sort, it is just that I was hoping to be wowed, but it didn’t happen. Honestly, I didn’t think he was going full speed or giving it his all (unlike say Bourret), but it can be hard to evaluate talent. I was talking with another camp watcher and we reminisced about how awful Kovalchuk looked as a rookie at his first NHL camp and look disinterested—and then he went out and scored two goals in his first pre-season game.
Boris Valabik: First let me note that I was not happy when the Thrashers drafted him in the 1st round (I had seen him play in juniors and wanted the team to take someone else instead). But of all the players at camp he was perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise. His skating show great improvement compared to previous camps. I was even more impressed when I heard him interviewed on the radio by Billy Jaffe and he said that there is no ice back in “Czechoslovakia” and today was the first time he had been on skates in three months.
Brett Sterling: He is small but at least Jared Ross kept him from being the smallest guy at the camp. I’ve seen him play a couple of times in college. There is room in the NHL for small guys today but it is important to have great speed and he didn’t really jump out at me in the skating drills. However, he does seem to possess a deadly accurate shot. At the conclusion of the practice the players formed a horseshoe around the goalies and took turns rotating into the shooting position which was straight out from the goalie a couple of feet beyond the hash marks. The object of the game seemed to be this, you got to keep shooting on the goalie as long as you either beat him clean with your shot or someone put your rebound into the net (in other words the goalie had a make a clean save you the original shooter or the rebound shooter. Well Sterling appeared to win this contest as he just stood there and picked the corners of the net scoring five direct goals on Turple (a solid goalie prospect).
Grant Lewis: I have to give credit to the Atlanta Hockey’s future correspondent who pointed him out to me, but he really looked solid once I started watching him. His skating was solid and his passes were hard but on target. But more than anything he seemed to carry himself with great poise and composure on the ice. He looks ready to turn pro, if he played hockey full time he might only be a year away from making a run at a NHL job (OK I might be getting carried away based on one practice, I’ll see how he looks later this week.)
In general almost every player did a couple of nice things that I noticed, even guys like Mitch Carefoot and Matt Siddall who project as checking line guys looked good at times. A couple of quick hits: Jordan LaVallee has a NHL body and shoots hard but seemed to miss the net a lot. Tomas Pospisil good speed and hands but his skating almost seemed sloppy and out of control at times like an overly exuberant puppy. Myles Stoesz looked pretty bad, but he is a fighter. Oystrick didn’t skate. Colton Fretter and Mike Hamilton didn’t really stand out as much as I expected.
I will probably watch Prospect Camp another two days before it is over and see if my intitial impressions change.