Day 1 of Habs Development camp

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By Habster

The first day of the Canadiens development camp is the start of a long journey for every prospect at the Jacques Lemaire Arena today. Some will realize their dreams and aspirations to play in the NHL while others will come to the realization that their career path should go in another direction.

Dreams always lead to a refreshing wide eyed enthusiasm and nervous energy which a few of the first timers had when they stepped on the ice. There were plenty of “newbies” with eleven prospects getting their first taste of development camp ( 9-2007 draft picks as well as Thomas Beauregard(AHL contract) and Pavel Valentenko(2006 draft #139)).

Day one of camp was dedicated to running drills and only minor instruction(mostly the goaltenders). The goalies were working on drills with Rollie Melanson while Gaston Gingras and the remaining instructors were running the forwards/defensemen through various skating drills. With the exception of the goaltenders, there were no pucks used in the skating drills or shots taken at the goalies( during the practice session that is!!!). At the end of the two hour practice, some of the prospects commendeered some pucks and were playing ‘keep away” with some fun had by Subban, Maxwell, Cepak and Wyman at one end while a larger group were peppering the goaltenders at the other end of the rink (boys being boys!!!).

While it is difficult to judge overall talent and heart on skating or technical drills only, you can at the least get a decent first impression of the prospects’ skill set, keeping in mind that some of these kids haven’t been on the ice for a few weeks. Here are some of my “unprofessional” first impressions of day one of Habs development camp:
P.K Subban(2007-#43) is an excellent skater as advertised by Trevor Timmins and the scouting community. His acceleration is very good, has excellent pivot ability and skates very well backwards (see video I took of his 4 corner cone drill). During the keep away fun, he displayed some good stick handling as well. He was very noticeable and seemed to be having fun . Video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSisapSusA0

Mathieu Carle(2005-#53) also displayed good wheels going forward and backwards. He looked confident being at his third development camp and will be a key player for the Bulldogs this season where he will gain valuable playing experience.

Andrew Conboy(2007-#142) is a big forward at 6’4″ 196lbs and I was impressed by his overall skills. He’s a pretty decent skater for his size so once he fills out and gains further coordination with his body then there is even more room for potential.

Olivier Fortier(2007-#65) will be a very good penalty killer one day as his agility and quick acceleration were quite apparent during the drills. He does remind he of a Antoine Vermette as far as his skating style. Here is a video I taped at practice of Fortier doing a drill:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HkLX2TSo1I
Yannick Weber(2007-#73) really stood out when he performed some of the drills. He is a very good skater with better acceleration than the scouting reports have given him credit for. He is also very solid on his skates and built like a tank.

Nichlas Torp(2007-#163) also impressed me with his frame and skating agility(pivot/backward/forward). I did notice that he was bending his right knee a couple of times after drills but he did not appear in any pain.

Ryan McDonagh(2007-#12) was quick and the words “smooth and effortless” comes to mind when you see him skate. He is just that fluid in both directions with an excellent pivot. I think he will be a nice addition to the Habs blue line in a few years.

Max Pacioretty(2007-#22) was probably the best skating forward(Fortier and Wyman were also very good) at the opening day. He also displayed good two way agility and was very noticable on the ice. Very solid frame as well. Video I taped of Pacioretty doing cone drills: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tai229Z_GHY
Philippe Paquet(2005-#229) was very solid on the drills and can skate very well for a big man(6’3″ 212lbs). Has taken his time developing at Clarkson University but appears to have a solid skill set.

David Fischer(2006-#20) was solid overall and is a good skater but did fall a couple of times. He just didn’t seem to stand out for a player at his 2nd development camp and one pro camp as well.

Joe Stejskal(2007-#133) seemed nervous and is rather thin looking. He has good wheels and performed fairly well on most of the drills. I can see him developing his skill set over time like Paquet.

Pavel Valentenko(2006-#139) was a bit of a disappointment and was not as quick as some of the other defensemen(though he is considered an above average skater). Maybe he hasn’t been on the ice since the Russian Super League finished its season. I think he will shine in the one on one drills where he is strong. We’ll see the rest of camp. I also noticed that he did not put a full effort in some of the drills( again it could be due to conditioning or injury).

Ben Maxwell(2006-#49) is a strong skater and performed well but did not stand out throughout the 2 hour practice.

James Wyman(2004-#100) is a very strong skater who has very good size(6’2″ 208lbs) and was noticed throughout the practice. Skates very well in all situations.

Ryan White(2006-#66) looked rather slow compared to the other players. His skating has always been the weakest part of his game. I paid particular attention to this because I wanted to see if he had improved that part of his game. He does have grit, heart and has a scoring touch but if he can’t skate well…..

Cedrick Desjardins(AHL contract) was by far the most impressive goalie in camp. He just looked more polished than OHL tryout Andrew Loverock and Loic Lacasse(2004-181) during drills and making saves. I was impressed with Loverock’s size(6’3″)and he was not out of place.

Mathieu Aubin, Thomas Beauregard, Cameron Cepek, Ryan Russell and Gregory Stewart were also at the camp but I did not get a good look at them so it would not be fair to say anything about them. I will be adding more video footage of the day 1 camp to this article within the next 24 hours so check back later.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate the day 1 update of the camp along with the videos. I’ll be sure to check back for more as the week goes on.

  2. Looking good! It’s amazing to see how much more agile Subban is than any of the other skaters.

    that’s especially true of Cepek…

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