The Edmonton Oilers summer development camp had a predictably low start on Monday afternoon at the Downtown Community Arena. It was the first of four days of on-ice sessions, all open to the public. (Schedule On here.)
Twenty-one hopefuls took to the ice, the most aerodynamic group still in the annual camp that has been gradually reduced in recent years. Last year came the big step when the event was cut from six days to four, and from 36 youngsters to 24. This year the guest list was cut by one more player in each category, three goalkeepers, seven defenders and eleven strikers. to the ice.
14 of the 21 participants were returned from last year's camp. The seven newcomers included four of the six players written by Oil last weekend, all of whom put Oil drop for the first time. Among them, # 8 of General Philip Broberg and # 38 Raphael Lavoie were high (literally) along with Czech friends Matej Blumel and Tomas Mazura also present. The two young Russians who had just been selected were far from being seen. The others were the Finn Patrik Siikanen (called in 2018, but not in the field) and the camp invites Leon Huttl, a German defender, and Taylor Ward of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
By far the dominant group for these eyes consisted of the seven men wearing white, the d-men. Undoubtedly, the three best prospects in this field, if not the whole system, were in that group the people of Broberg, number 1 last year, Evan Bouchard, and Dmitri Samorukov, a third round of 2017 that made great progress in the past. season.
The Monday session featured a 35-minute session for the goalkeepers, followed by a 45-minute test for skaters. There was no teamwork involved at any stage, just a series of individual exercises focusing on skateboarding. Agility and footwork were the main element, many changes of direction and not much in terms of speed.
For example, this drill, which saw each skater trying to control two discs, dragging one around a skateboard while handling the second in a normal way. There were a series of exercises that involved dropping hands on the ice and making turns (in both directions) from a three-point posture, and more that emphasized quick crosses of steps.
I spent a lot of time watching Broberg, who quickly got the hang of most training. Although I'm not an expert on technical and technical aspects of skateboarding, I know an athlete when I see one, and Broberg certainly cleans this bar with ease.
I also focused on Bouchard, the Next Big Thing from last year, which showed significant signs of progress. In particular, I was struck by the speed and precision of his cross steps; as I recall, footwork was an area of his game where he was supposed to work when he was sent back to London last fall, and it seems he took that message seriously.
Then there was Samorukov, now a veteran of three of those camps. Hard to think of a kid who turned 20 last week as a "veteran" of anything but he is a significantly more polished skater than observed in previous fields and by all appearances is emerging as a young man confident in his abilities and skills. comfortable on your own skin. His progress over the last two years has been impressive, and he seems more than ready to take the next step in the professional ranks, even though there is no expectation that he will be an Oiler in the immediate future. He's ready for the AHL, though.
Two other d-men attracted my attention in a positive way, a couple of great defenders in Phil Kemp (7th round, 2017) and Michael Kesselring (6th round, 2018). Both selections of the final round are chance chances, great men with decent skating ability. Kemp enters his third year at Yale next season, while Kesselring graduates from USHL for Northeastern University. Both are years away, but are heading in the right direction.
Among the attackers, Raphael Lavoie was hard to miss, a big man with a strong pitch. Hard to judge his speed of advancement-at least decent, perhaps a little better than that-but he was carving the ice with authority.
More reports to come in the coming days, and I for a look at the introduction of pucks, multi-player drills and eventually scrimmages. This will give players a chance to assess basics such as shooting skills and the ability to make and receive passes. Without this context, it's hard to get much out of the first day than the usual positive impressions of young athletes putting in one of the 10,000 hours they need to reach professional positions.
The NHL Draft Hockey Cult
2019 draft wrap-up, by Bruce McCurdy
8th overall: Ken Holland in the front seat by Philip Broberg, by Bruce McCurdy
Twitter reacts to Broberg's choice, by David Staples
Who dropped the most and who shot the highest on Day 1 of the NHL draft, by David Staples
38th overall: Oilers pick up Raphael Lavoie from Kurt Leavins
85th overall: Ilya Konovalov, KHL rookie-year student, caught by Oilers, by David Staples
100th overall: Oilers take older shooter Matej Blumel from Bruce McCurdy
162nd overall: Tomas Mazura, a Czech striker who goes to the American Hockey College by @Kurt Leavins
193th overall: Attacking Russian striker Maxim Denezhkin, by David Staples
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