Day 3 was a busy day for the draftees and invitees at Capitals Development Camp. Both Group A and Group B were on the ice in the morning, and the whole squad took the ice in the afternoon for a scrimmage. The additional activity made for an extremely long day, one that not only left me exhausted, but also (and more importantly) left me feeling like a full-time member of the media. I also increased my attempts at multi-tasking: interspersing periods of photography with Tweets, especially during the afternoon scrimmage. Day 3 also provided a glimpse into the world of the best PR staff in the NHL when Nate and Kelly invited all the bloggers in attendance to a roundtable to discuss ideas and innovations.
Group A Observations
Both groups were put to their first quantitative evaluation today, with the coaching staff giving the prospects a battery of skating tests, including blue-line-to-blue-line skating, straight-line speed, and S-curves. Because of the nature of the early part of the day, there was a notably decreased media presence around the Kettler practice rink. Evgeny Kuznetsov remained the class of Group A, using long, confident strides to fly around the ice. Dmitri Orlov also displayed impressive handling and speed, but did so by utilizing compact, powerful, quick steps. The Swede in Group A, Anton Gustafsson, looked a bit less confident than many other members of the group, was not as fast as expected, and almost fell several times. The biggest members of Group A, Joe Finley and Jake Hauswirth, both succumbed to gravity and took hard falls during the S-turn speed test. After the testing concluded, several players, including Kuznetsov, stayed on the ice to play keep away and shoot the puck around. Kuznetsov looked like a kid in a candy shop, skating with a smile stretching from ear to ear as he deftly moved the puck around the ice – clearly the kid loves to play hockey.
Group B Observations
Shortly after Group A finished their testing, Group B had their chance to show off for the coaches and assembled fans. As expected, Marcus Johansson was far and away the best skater from Group B, clearly having benefited from the increased level of competition in the Swedish Elite League. Johansson’s skating style is almost technically flawless, which allowed him to sail through all the tests with an easy grace. In addition to Johansson, Stanislav Galiev also put on quite a skating clinic and Dustin Stevenson displayed better than average speed (for a defenseman). On a slightly less positive note, Trevor Bruess did not leave a terribly good impression, especially for a prospect who has spent some time in the AHL. Bruess was not as fast as some of the other prospects and seemed a little hesitant at times through the corners in the turning speed test.
The highlight of Development Camp day 3 was the first official scrimmage of the summer. The two groups ditched their color coordinated line jerseys for sharp-looking red and white team threads with gray highlights and piping on the sides. The two sides fought to a stalemate, leading Coach Boudreau to quip to the assembled bloggers: “next time we’re going to a shootout.” The MVP of the scrimmage was 2010 draft pick Kuznetsov, who potted two goals and an assist – while just missing a hat trick. His first tally was a Knublian deflection off a shot from the point that he garnered by holding a spot at the top of the crease. The physical play of several prospects stood out during the scrimmage: Stefan Della Rovere was throwing his body around, landing several crunching hip checks; Sean Wiles made some sacrifices blocking shots; and Cody Eakin played way bigger than his size, holding the puck and winning battles along the boards. The goalies were also fairly solid, stopping all the penalty shots except one. Most notably, Phillip Grubauer displayed good positioning, astute awareness, and keen anticipation of the puck. The most exciting moment of the scrimmage came after all-around nice guy Joe Finley crushed Zach Miscovic at the half-wall, leading to an exchange of pleasantries with fellow bruiser Anthony Pisano (Bridgewater, MJAHL). The two heavyweights calmly discussed the incident and ended with a hug, leaving all satisfied.