BROSSARD, QC. — These days you never know what you are going to face on the Champlain Bridge on the way to Brossard — with neverending major road work it’s rarely good. On Thursday, the illuminated sign that usually advertises construction read “Ongoing watering of the superstructure.” I can’t begin to explain that one to you, but apparently bridges require watering, and maybe a little fertilizer every 2-4 weeks.
It was an uneventful trip to the South Shore — which is a good thing. Until..
A black Ferrari appeared in my rearview mirror. It was well back but didn’t take long to make up the distance, weaving in and out of traffic, and then easily past me. I’d like to veer off into a dramatic chase story, but some of you know what I drive, and frankly, it wouldn’t be credible.
With the help of some lights and traffic I managed to be behind the Ferrari just as it made the turn towards the Bell Sports Complex. I was the first time I was close enough to see the Virginia license plate. Who else could it be but Jose Theodore?
I found a spot, grabbed my camera and walked towards the back of the parking lot where Theodore had pulled up beside an SUV. The new goaltender of the Florida Panthers was signing a blocker, handing it to former Canadiens player Guillaume Latendresse. Presumably Latendresse was collecting memorabilia for his charity golf tournament that will be held on Friday at Golf Parcours du Cerf in Longueuil.
With the temporary distraction over, I ventured inside to see what “excitement” was waiting. While skating drills should never be described as exciting, they can reveal fundamental differences between players. Shooting was added to the drills in the afternoon to provide a more complete view of the prospects.
The day ended with a short-track speed skating relay drill that was entertaining for the those remaining in the gallery and the player alike.
One of the players that I was eager to get a first look at was Daniel Pribyl. He was selected by the Canadiens 168th overall in this June’s NHL Entry Draft. The 6-03, 189 lb. center from the Czech Republic had 27 goals, 31 assists for 58 points in only 41 games, primarily with junior club Sparta Praha.
In addition to good size, Pribyl has outstanding puckhandling skills, good vision and a decent shot. Skating is average albeit with a long stride but his best asset is creativity which is at the top of the charts. In one-on-one keep-away drills at camp, Pribyl turned his opponents into knots as he easily controlled the puck for long stretches of time.
Pribyl could improve his skating stability, make better use of his size, and improve his defensive game, but his slick puck skills, compete level and knack for creating offense made him an intriguing later round draft pick for the Canadiens. While he was hoping to be selected by Pittsburgh or Edmonton, he seems quite comfortable and confident at the Brossard practise facility.
Mac Bennett (D) — He continues to be the strongest skater in camp complemented by an accurate shot, a good first pass and excellent vision.
Olivier Archambault (LW) — He was selected first overall by Val-d’Or in last year’s QMJHL draft. At camp Archambault has proven that he is a very good skater with a hard shot. Listed generously at 5-11, 176, size is an issue.
Darren Dietz (D) — He owns the most accurate shot at camp. Dietz makes the most of his size known for being able to drop the gloves and take down bigger opponents.
Do you have a player or issue that you would like All Habs to keep an eye on during development camp? Please tell us in the comment section.