Group A Observations
Braden Holtby still looks a little shaky in net, letting in a few goals he probably should have saved. This could be a function of the fact that he recently had LASIK surgery done on his eyes and they aren’t quite back to normal yet. It is also important to remember that Holtby went from starting to backing up Michal Neuvirth and did not play very much over the last two months of his season.
Anton Gustafsson continues to remain an enigma. It is clear that the young Swede pick has a plethora of talent, certainly worthy of him being first-round draft selection. However, there were times during the week when his motivation appeared questionable. For example, during offensive zone entry drills today, there appeared to be moments when Gustafsson would stop skating and lackadaisically enter the zone.
Evgeny Kuznetsov. Wow. Definitely the breakout prospect of 2010 Development Camp. After Marcus Johansson, Kuznetsov most likely has the best chance of being in a Capitals uniform sometime soon. Kuznetsov is pretty much the complete package: great passing, smooth skating, and hard shooting. Kuznetsov also has a number of intangibles that will likely help him make it to the NHL level. He has a natural hockey sense – he would always seem to be at the right place on the ice or able to put his passes in the right place. Kuznetsov also is an on ice leader: he quickly understands new concepts and teaches the other Russians, especially Dmitri Orlov who has a less firm grasp of English. Finally, he obviously loves the game – he plays with a permanent grin on his face and was always the first on and last off the ice during the practice sessions. It is obvious why the Caps had him ranked 12th on their draft board. The only criticism of Kuznetsov would be that his frame is not quite filled out, but the Russian has the ability to fix that with some weight room sessions.
Group B Observations
Trevor Bruess looked a lot better in the drills today than in previous Days of Development Camp. Although he looked good in the two scrimmages, until today, he had not really stood out in the workouts. Bruess looked very comfortable in front of the net and scored several deflection-type goals. This fact is all the more impressive because of his smaller stature.
Stan Galiev continues to impress. The young Russian has an absolute cannon of a snapshot that he scored with several times. Galiev also has puckhandling skills reminiscent of another Russian Capital, Alex Semin. Galiev’s affinity for both getting in the crease and throwing hits, however, is most definitely NOT like Semin.
Marcus Johansson exudes a quiet confidence that is easily detectable. While not the flashiest player, Johansson can shoot and score with ease. Johansson delighted the crowd during the practice-ending shootout with an outside-in move on Taylor Nelson that separated the goalie from his skates. Finally, Mackan can flat out skate. Johansson is such a good skater that it appears he is just gliding over the ice, his skates barely making a sound, even on the less than spectacular ice surface at Kettler during Camp.
Braden Holtby Interview Highlights
Goals for 2010-11 season: “My goal is to play as many games as I can at Hershey so that if the NHL games come, I will be ready.”
On why he came to Camp: “There’s not much of a choice [on my part]. [The Capitals staff] talked a lot with me throughout the season… it’s tough becuase the [previous] season went so long, but these camps are fun.”
On being at Camp: “I think its better to be a veteran… I haven’t gotten the chance to show that… I’ve always been the young guy, the rookie.”
On hitting Kuznetsov the previous day: “There’s no off-ice issues; it was just the heat of the moment on the ice.”
On getting LASIK: “It went really well, just a few little things [aren’t 100% yet]. I’ve had numerous problems with contacts: they’re not the best thing for a goalie.”
After Kusnetsov and Orlov came out of the locker room and fulfilled their media obligations, they appeared ready to make a mad dash for the gate to get out of Kettler and grab some lunch. However, in the course of their exit they saw the tabled high with baked goods that blog readers had brought for the media folk today. Seeing this glorious sight, Kusnetsov stopped dead in his tracks and grabbed Orlov. The two Russians proceeded to HOUSE 2 or 3 red velvet cupcakes each in quick fashion, all the while being photographed by the assembled media. Kusnetsov seemed to love the attention and stopped, mouth wide open, posing for a picture and laughing. After eating their fill, they grabbed a plate and piled it full of cupcakes to take back to the locker room, all memory of their previous intentions forgotten.
Alex Semin’s Biggest Fan
There are many hockey fans and they come in varying degrees of intensity. The rarest type of fan is the extremely dedicated “superfan.” Throughout the course of my week covering Development Camp I noticed several dedicated people who had used their vacations or sick days to attend every weekday of Camp. One person in particular, sporting an away white Alex Semin jersey COVERED in signatures, really stood out, so I caught up with Feodora and asked her a few questions about her unique apparel.
How many signatures do you have on your jersey?
“I actually don’t know exactly, but over 100.”
How long has it taken you to get that many signatures?
“Two years. I got this jersey in April of 2008.”
How did you get all those signatures? Do any of them have good stories associated with them?
“I got most of them by hanging out at Kettler, But, I actually got Alex Semin’s signature in the garage. I saw him coming out and I chased after him. I think it was the fastest I have ever run.”
Do you have any other jerseys? Do you have a favorite?
Yes, I have a practice jersey, a Hershey Holtby jersey, and a Kugyrshev jersey from last year. The Semin jersey is my favorite though, because they have never lost when I’ve worn it [to a game].
When and how did you get into hockey?
“In December of 2007 I was actually at a Wizards game and I went into the store at Verizon Center and saw the Ovechkin and Semin jerseys. I didn’t know there were Russians on the team and it got me interested.”
Is Semin your favorite Capital? Why?
“I’m from a Russian family, so that’s part of it. I think he’s the best player in the world because he’s a very raw player with lots of pure talent.”
What do you think of the new Russian prospects?
“[Evgeny] Kuznetsov is one of the most amazing players I’ve ever seen. I like Dima’s [Dmitri Orlov] physicality, and I think he’s a very sly player.”