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2009 Thrashers Prospect Camp Day 1

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Before I get started with comments I want to make the following disclaimer for the literally hundreds of people who will read this post searching for information about someone at camp.

Disclaimer for friends, agents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts of prospects: Please remember that it is virtually impossible to watch all the players out on the ice and furthermore I tend to focus on some guys to the exclusion of others. Just because I don't mention your friend/family member doesn't mean they are not having a good camp! Also my perceptions are just that--the perceptions of one observer--what really matters is how the Thrashers organization sees things.

OK with that out of the way, let me confess that based on past years the first day of Prospect Camp is not nearly as valuable as all the other days that come after it. For one thing it takes a while to memorize all the jersey numbers. On the first day I tend to really focus on the new draft picks (plus Eric O'Dell who is new via trade). Also some players look rough because they have not been on skates in weeks. They might be focused on weight training for example. I remember two years ago thinking Tobias looked rather sluggish only to learn that he had not skated in weeks. This year the same thing was true of Evander Kane where you could tell his timing was off a bit from being away from the ice lately.

Somewhat Random Player Observations:

Evander Kane: His timing looked a little off, I suspect that he will look much better in a few days. Nice release on his shot. He showed good all around skill. I'm sure we will see some more fun moves in the 4>4 scrimmages.

Carl Klingberg: He looked surprisingly fast compared to other skaters, puck skills better than I expected. When he was playing with the elite 16 and 17 year olds at the U-18 tournament, these things didn't stand out as much did today. In the 1>1 drill he beat his man, protected the puck nicely but couldn't quite finish off the chance.

Jeremy Morin: His skating is so ugly that you know he can improve on it. If Jeremy gets some personal sessions with skating Coach Kenny McCudden it could make him a very rich man in a few years. Showed off that quick release and hard shot. Can't wait to see him shoot in the scrimmages.

Levko Koper: Showed good speed and a nice hard shot, I need to watch him more.

Jimmy Budnick: I was hoping to see a little more out of him, but it is just day one.

John Albert: He looked great flying around and passing with flair. Still appears to lack elite finishing skills--but if he plays on a line with either Kane or Morin in the NHL he might not need to finish.

Daulton Leveille: I had to really look to notice him out there. It is just one day, but I was underwhelmed.

Spencer Machacek: You can see how much further along in his professional development he is than almost every there--he does the little things right and he does them consistently. For example, he makes sure that every single shot he takes hits the net. His skates well and he compete hard all the time. He looks like a professional hockey player.

Riley Holzapefel: Drafted the same year as Machacek, but there is a distinct gap between the two in my opinion. I watched him play at NHL Camp last fall and twice in the AHL last year and than again today. Each time I find myself thinking "what happened to this guy? he seems to have lost his mojo?" He did nothing to change that impression on Day One. Perhaps somebody needs to light a fire under this prospect? Years ago the Thrashers had two prospects named Brad Tapper and Dan Snyder, Tapper didn't seen to grasp that he had to play with 100% effort if he was going to make the NHL. Tapper had more skill--but undersized Dan Snyder beat him out for a NHL job because Snyder was totally committed to playing hard every single shift of every single game. I'm worried that Riley has a little too much Brad Tapper in him--hopefully I'm wrong.

Eric O'Dell: He looked bigger than I expected. I simply haven't watched him enough yet.

Paul Postma: No surprise here, he handled the puck great and skated like the wind. Still looks skinny but not as rail thin as last year.

Non-Thrasher Camp Surprises: I never come to camp intending to watch non-roster players, but two camp invitees really stood out. Cody Crichton (Robert Morris University-NCAA) showed blazing speed--the odds of him every playing in the NHL are small--but he have an opportunity to carve out a pro career as forechecker and PK specialist. I also couldn't help noticing Drew Paris (QMJHL) who has great size and seemed to skate well for a big guy. He is old enough to turn pro and will leave juniors. Every year a few undrafted guys make it to the NHL, I have no idea if these two have a shot--but for one day I liked what I saw. The Wolves might do well to sign either if the Thashers do not.