By Rick Stephens, Editor-in-Chief, All Habs Hockey Magazine
Flavour of the Day: Lingonberry!
BROSSARD, QC. — Development Camp is valuable for many reasons. Players can be scouted in a variety of leagues but this one chance to place them side-by-side fellow prospects and evaluate their talent, attitude and work ethic. As Day 2 arrived at Brossard, I was still waiting for a player to grab the spotlight — not to find something after searching but to have my eyes drawn unconsciously.
It didn’t happen while the defensemen worked out with Player Development coach Patrice Brisebois. Darren Dietz is a d-man who is on the right path. He plays a physical game, makes a good first pass, generally makes smart reads and has a potent point shot.
It would have been interesting to see how Mac Bennett fared with the Bulldogs in the upcoming season. Bennett has decided to forego turning pro and return to the University of Michigan for his senior year. Head coach Red Berenson announced that Bennett will captain the 2013-14 version of the Wolverines.
“When he first arrived here, he wasn’t in the lineup for every game, but he worked hard,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “He’s putting in extra hours watching video and spending time on the ice. He’s one of those kids who takes advantage of being able to play college hockey; he gets it.” — Wolverines coach Red Berenson on Mac Bennett
Bennett suffered a knee injury last season but was still able to put up 18 points (6 goals, 12 assists) in 32 regular season games. The defensive prospect is writing about his experience at Habs development camp for mgoblue.com
. Here’s an excerpt:
“While my group was getting tested, the other group was over at the Bell Centre (the home of the Canadiens) getting a walkthrough of the building and learning about the team’s history. So when we finished our physicals, we switched with that group. Since I have been coming to camp, pretty much all of my time has been spent at the practice facility in Brossard. The only other time I have seen the Bell Centre was when I attended the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Even then I didn’t really get to see much of the building as I was either in a state of panic waiting for my name to be called — or being rushed around after being picked. Today gave me the opportunity to see a little bit more of the building … and it is breathtaking.”
Of particular interest to Habs fans might be what Bennett wrote about the media.
“After touring the rink, we had a session with the Canadiens PR guy about how to interact with members of the media. Some of the tips he gave us will be very useful. The Canadiens are THE sport to watch in Montreal. The media scrutinize every move the organization makes. It is in everyone’s best interest to say the right things when asked a question.”
As I continued to survey the defenseman and the forwards at the opposite end of the arena, it struck me that over the first two days there is one player who looks out of place. Jarred Tinordi doesn’t belong at this camp (and that’s a good thing!)
Don’t misunderstand, I agree that it was the right decision bringing him to development camp. It’s just that Tinordi’s level of play, his decision-making, his under-rated skating ability and his maturity are well-advanced beyond the rest of the campers. And that bodes well for the Canadiens in the Fall who will look to have a physical presence on the backend until Alexei Emelin is able to return.
Many readers have been asking about newly drafted Zach Fucale. The young goaltender comes as advertised. Fucale is your standard butterfly goalie who does a good job protecting the cage down low. He plays a little deep in his net but is very quick going post-to-post.
There has been some concern about Fucale’s mitt but he made an enormous glove save off Michael McCarron who blasted it from the circle. The far-too-close shot resulted in some good-natured banter between Fucale and McCarron. Likewise it was smiles all-around when Director of Player Development Martin Lapointe put one past Fucale on the rush. It’s clear that Fucale is savoring every moment of camp.
And yes, on Day 2, there was an eye-grabbing moment. It came during a relatively routine drill where players are asked to take a lap of the ice moving two pucks at the same time. Some struggled, some looked for shortcuts (yes, I saw you Louis Leblanc
) and only one player moved fluidly through the drill.
Here’s a hint, it wasn’t McCarron.
Erik Nyström, a 19-year-old Swedish winger selected in the 6th round of 2012, looked like a magician with the two pucks in front of him. When the drill was repeated with three pucks, Nyström was in a class of his own. The combination of his puck-handling skills, anticipation and skating ability were exceptional.
It shouldn’t be interpreted that Nyström is being endorsed as the next great Habs prospect. Just that he provided the first eye-catching moment of this year’s camp. Well done!
Have any questions about Development Camp or the Canadiens prospects? All Habs will be reporting from Brossard all week. Please ask in the comments sections below.