BROSSARD, QC.– It takes a special type of fan to head to the arena to watch a group of prospects in the heat of summer. In June, I met Amelie, a budding photographer who will begin an internship with All Habs in the Fall. On Wednesday, I met Walter who was making his first visit to the Bell Sports Complex.
Walter is a delightful retiree who is a long-standing and knowledgeable Habs fan. He recently moved within walking distance of the Canadiens practise facility. I had an enjoyable afternoon watching the prospects being put through their paces and trading comments with my seatmate.
Die-hard fans were on hand to attend the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp, Part 2, also known as the debut of Nathan Beaulieu. Eleven other players are attending the three-day session but none is as well known nor at the same level as Beaulieu. With only four forwards and eight defenseman in camp, the player to coach ratio is 2-to-1 — Perry Pearn and Trevor Timmins are the most familiar of the guys with whistles and warm-up suits.
It allowed the coaching staff a chance to get a good look at the prospects and helped to maintain a high tempo in the skating drills on Day One of camp. From his Twitter account, Beaulieu tweeted this message before the on-ice session, “Going hard all day in mtl.” And afterwards, the 2011 first-round pick of the Canadiens tweeted only a hashtag “#bagged.”
Day One was all about skating drills. Beaulieu is a smooth skater but will need to increase his power and improve skating backwards. The player who was the most mobile and cruised with ease through the drills was defenseman Mac Bennett.
Bennett completed his freshman year with the University of Michigan growing more confident as the season went on. Chosen in the 2009 draft, 79th overall, Bennett is an offensive-defenseman who relies on his speed and skating ability to create opportunities. His defensive game is still a work in progress.
At camp we see Bennett’s agility and efficient power-transfer in his skating. His all-time favourite player is Mathieu Schneider who was coached by Mac’s dad and became a family friend. Bennett likes the play of Yannick Weber on the current roster of Canadiens, admiring his cannon-like shot.
Etienne Brodeur (LW) — Scoring the most goals (53) in the regular season in the QMJHL earned Brodeur a tryout with the Canadiens. His skating, perhaps the weakest in camp, was a topic of discussion in the gallery but development camp is a good place to diagnose any technical issues. Brodeur has excellent vision and a high hockey IQ.
Josh McFadden (D) — McFadden, from the Sudbury Wolves, was third in scoring by defenseman (72 points) in the OHL just behind Ryan Ellis and Ryan Murphy. McFadden has good speed and the mobility to be a quarter-back for the power-play.
From the Sudbury Star: McFadden earns invite from Habs
McFadden said he’ll just play his game and hope to catch some attention that way at the rookie camp.
“I’m just going to try impress, just do what got me there,” he said. “I just want a chance and see what I can do with it. I could see myself in a Habs jersey.”
McFadden got five other invites from NHL teams, but felt the Canadiens was the best fit.
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