Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Observations on Development Camp Day 2

Joe Colborne holds court with the Boston media after
Bruins Development Camp's first day of on-ice work concluded.

It was the second day of Boston Bruins Development Camp, but the B's prospects had a chance to show their stuff with their first couple of hours on the ice at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

The first day was a physical testing day for the kiddos, and they spent about three hours in the pool this morning, testing their fitness and bonding as a team before taking the ice.

Here are some observations, and I did some interviews as well that I'll throw some highlights in on. I apologize for the whole scattershot method, but I've had a long day split between hockey (work) and family (vacation) commitments, so going to hit this hard and quick and then hope to get some more detail and fidelity in the coming days.

So, here goes.

First of all, to coin a phrase from former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green: Tyler Seguin is what we thought he is.

That's right. The youngster and second overall pick in the 2010 draft is the real deal. He showed off a dazzling skill package today and granted, it was against peers and not-ready-for-primetime players (and let's face it-- a good number of them never will be), but if you were there and you didn't come away impressed with the kid, then I have to believe you weren't watching No. 57 on the ice.

The first thing that jumps out at you with Seguin is the fast tempo he plays with. He can speed it up or slow it down at will, and he makes everything he does look exceedingly simple. That's the mark of a real player, and leads me to believe that the book on Seguin is not hype. I said to one of my (much more famous and accomplished) colleagues in the stands that for all the talk of Jeff Skinner and his 50 goals (and I mean this with absolutely zero disrespect to Skinner), Seguin finished with just two fewer than Skinner. Seguin can finish the play off, and we saw it over and over again today. Now, it'll be a different story when he's going up against veteran NHL defensemen and goalies, but for one afternoon, this guy was the star of the show. And I believe much bigger things are in store.

Joe Colborne. OK-- at first, I was not overly impressed with what I was seeing from No. 59, but as the time went on, he became more and more noticeable. He's got a long, powerful skating stride and it's really something to see him up close when you consider how big he is. My first sit up and pay attention moment came when Colborne was doing 2-on-2 drills with Alexander Fallstrom as his forward partner. He sucked both defenders to him (David Warsofsky and Ryan Donald) by using his extensive reach to dangle and do a now-you-see-it-now-you-don't, then fought both off and slid a perfect saucer through the maze of bodies to Fallstrom, who buried the shot on Matt Dalton. Absolutely beautiful setup and executed in textbook fashion.

Ryan Spooner. After Seguin, he was the forward who impressed me the most, because he showed quite a bit of steak to go with his sizzle. Spooner is fast, really fast. He breaks out of a stop like Sonny Crockett's Ferrari Testarossa and what I really liked about him was that he would take the puck to the net hard like he was 6-2 or 6-3, and not 5-10. He was creating all day-- creating chances not only for himself but the guys out there with him. The size is going to be a bit of an issue, moreso because he's playing the kind of style that lends itself to the saying that his heart is writing checks his body can't cash, but there's no denying the skill level. I'm still trying to figure out how the Bruins got this guy at 45. Here are my notes from today on Spooner: "Creativity on display every time I watch him. Wicked release. Goes hard to the net."

Jared Knight. When I watched him abuse Zane Gothberg on three consecutive shots (and I don't mean any disrespect to Gothberg-- I thought he looked fine considering that he just graduated from high school) I was witnessing the sublime shooting skills Peter Chiarelli and Wayne Smith gushed about in L.A. I love his attitude, too. He said that you either have a killer instinct to score goals or you don't, and he's got it. My notes were pretty simple and to the point on Knight: "Release is as advertised; iow-- really good!"

Jordan Caron. I did notice the heavy feet, still. He's not a bad skater, but he takes more time to get up to speed than you like to see. It's noticeable when the play picks up from a halt and I can't help but think that any team who can cycle the puck effectively can exploit that lack of suddenness when Caron is on the ice. That said, his hands are excellent. He handles passes extremely well and has a great shot. With his size and strength, he could make it out of camp I suppose, but that skating is going to hold him back unless he can pick up a step coming out of the blocks. I also saw a great play by David Warsofsky at one point to deny Caron a path to the net. In fact, Warsofsky's positioning was so good, that he prevented Caron from getting off a shot, even and it makes you wonder. If Caron can't power his way past the 5-9 Warsofsky, what's he going to do against an average-sized defender who's about 6-2 and has much more experience?

I talked to Max Sauve before he took the ice to skate after the prospects did their on-ice work. He said the injury is the same he suffered in November- to his right ankle. He had played at the end of the year with a pin inserted into the ankle and had it removed recently, so he's not cleared yet for contact, but expects to be ready to go. The ice was bad at the end of that second session and we were a bit worried about him going out there, but saw him afterward in the dressing room and he gave the thumbs up that he was fine, while verifying that the ice was "a disaster."

Zane Gothberg. The kid wasn't bad, I have to admit. Don Sweeney talked about the goalies being at the biggest disadvantage in this setting because they don't have the timing and aren't with their teams, so coming in cold to just start facing shots puts them in a tough spot. I agree. And while Gothberg is extremely raw, you can see why he has potential. He's one of those guys who with some experience and refinement, could be very good. He's got to work on concentration and focus, though. I watched him make a series of staccato-rapid saves and then give up a weak sauce shot from Craig Cunningham that any level goalie has to stop. Again, this is a practice setting, and these guys are facing a ton of rubber, so nobody's Monday morning quarterbacking, and Gothberg is a long way off. But, the raw material is certainly there. And good kid, too. Here are some snippets of an interview I conducted with him afterward:

B2010DW: You played a little international hockey last year with Team USA (Ivan Hlinka tournament) what was that experience like and how do you think that helped you get yourself in a position to be drafted?

Zane Gothberg: Oh, yeah. I'm sure-- there were plenty of scouts there, I know. The bleachers were full of dark coats and stuff and it was good. I got a chance to play with a lot of guys who were drafted in the first round and maybe higher in the draft. Charlie Coyle, Kevin Hayes were some big names. Nick Bjugstad, too. So, the level of competition and I really opened my eyes to international hockey. Playing against Sweden where they forecheck, different backcheck I mean it's just-- systems-wise it kind of opened my eyes to it.

B2010DW: Is it kind of hitting you when you're out there and you're taking shots from guys like Seguin, Knight, Spooner, Caron the list goes on and on-- a list of accomplished players-- what you have to do in order to play at the next level and be successful?

ZG: Oh, yeah. For sure. We had a pretty hard day so far, and then getting on the ice was tough too. It just shows you that every ounce of energy you have left, you have to put it forward otherwise these guys are going to beat you clean. Got snipped a couple of times out there but that was just cause mentally and physically I need to get to the next level. From here, it's a good building block towards the future. Just hanging with the guys and soaking it all in.

Gothberg will join the USHL's Fargo Force next season and possibly beyond depending on how well he plays and what the situation is in net at the University of North Dakota in 2011-12.

I tracked Colborne down and enjoyed meeting him for the first time after chatting numerous times with him on the phone.

B2010DW: So, what were your thoughts on the first on-ice session in your third Bruins Development Camp?

Joe Colborne: I feel like the pace was a little slower, but that was to be expected given what we've done over the past few days. But, it was great to see the new guys come out and they had a lot of fire out there. But again, I think tomorrow is going to be a lot better show of the talent. I thought we were-- everyone's a little nervous on the first day as usual and it is July, so we'll see how it goes the rest of the week.

And on that note, Joe. We'll close out this post and look forward to tomorrow's sessions.

(Thanks to Chris and Cinde for letting me use their camera-- I brain-cramped and forgot mine, but wanted to get some shots of the guys and they were kind enough to hook me up)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks -- great to read your early take on Seguin, Spooner, & co.

    How would you compare Caron's skating to that of Milan Lucic? And, any thoughts on the defensemen?