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2009 Thrashers Prospect Camp Day Two: Afternoon Session

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A few observations from the afternoon sessions. They worked on a lot of D and F passing as well as 1>1 and 2>1 in the corner, and then rink-long 1>1 drills. The defensemen got a major workout because the ratio of F to D favors the forwards big time. For example, when Blue Team split in half and used both ends of the ice there were just 2 D at each end and 5-6 forwards. The D got a real hard workout during those 2>1 drills. I noticed a couple of forwards taking a turn as a defender (Spencer Machacek was one such guy) every once in a while.

I arrived after the White Team had finished, so I only watched the Blue Team this afternoon. A few people stood out in the 2>1 and 1>1 drills. Klingberg is extremely competitive and beat his defender on a regular basis. Riley Holzapfel who looked rather passive when I saw him in the AHL games showed some real fire today in both the morning and afternoon. He beat his man and scored a goal twice in a short period of time. Another standout was Andrew Kozek who really drove hard to the net on these 1>1 and 2>1 drills. Then later on a drill Kozek played the role of defender and twice shut down Doug Jones, but on the third attempt Jones got around him for a scoring bid.

If you are attending Prospect Camp for the first time as a fan--it can be really hard to know what to look for. On key element is smoothness and fluidity. Elite level players are silky smooth and they make it look very easy. Virtually everyone out there has the talent to execute the drills, but if you watch NHL players they have to catch and then settle the puck on their stick blade--they do it all in one motion. In the NHL if you have to take that extra half second to settle the puck it is too late a defender is already stepping up on you or taking away your shooting lane much of the time.

So I was watching the passing drills and you could really see why Paul Postma was a big scorer in juniors--nearly every single time he receives they puck he catches it clearly and therefore he is able to dish it back quickly. Other players who stood out for their "soft hands" (soft meaning they don't drop or loose control of the puck) were John Albert, Jeremy Morin, and Carl Klingberg. Some players that looked stiff to me were Danick Paquette, Cody Sol.

Sometimes the best things about Prospect Camp are impossible to plan. I was sitting there in the stands watching when Eric Boulton's mom comes and sits next to me. During a pause in the action we talked a little bit. I made the mistake of saying that few NHL players come Nova Scotia (her home province), then she reeled off the names of 4 current good NHLers from N.S. without pausing for a second to even think of their names. Lesson--don't argue Nova Scotia hockey with Eric Boulton's mom, she knows her stuff!

We were talking the young prospects and I asked her about Eric being drafted. She said that he didn't anticipate being selected so he stayed at home on draft day. The NY Rangers picked him and their GM at the time Neil Smith called the house. Eric was across the street in the neighbor's yard when they yelled for him to come in and talk on the phone--but  he thought they were playing a practical joke on him at first. He wouldn't come in until they convinced that it really was Neil Smith on the phone. Boulton's mom was so nice that I felt guilty about saying the Thrashers could stand to improve their 4th line--hopefully she doesn't read blogs.