Just arrived home from the on-ice session of the Atlanta Thrashers Prospect Camp. Here's some quick thoughts about some specific players that took the ice in Duluth today.
Alexander Burmistrov - One of the first things you notice about Alex is that he's tall and lanky; he's got his work cut out for him as far as adding some more mass before training camp. As the afternoon consisted of mostly offensive drills, I had some excellent chances to view his highly-touted puck skills. His speed set him apart from the rest of the group, and he used some nice moves to separate himself from defenders. Another thing I noticed about Alex was his ice vision. There were a couple of times when he put the puck in a great shooting position, but his winger had skated past. He and prospect Ivan Telegin were paired up a couple of times, and they seemed to click well.
Akim Aliu - Akim was another guy that stood out, both physicaly and during drills. You could tell this wasn't his first prospect camp. He's got good speed and good jump, but something just wasn't there. In doing a little research, I found that over three seasons Aliu has spent over 50 games with the AHL Rockford Ice Hogs, and (according to Blackhawks prospect blog Red Rising) was demoted to the ECHL Toledo Walleye for his "lack of offensive production and discipline." The scouting reports I've read paint a picture of raw talent paired with a short fuse - the phrase "project player" came up a couple of times in my reading. Hopefully the change of scenery will do him some good.
Patrice Cormier - If you really look for it, you can spot the thing that gives Cormier that reputation of "playing with an edge". He skates mostly with his head down, with a low center of gravity, and you can sense the determination. He always wants the net, and he's not afraid to go for it, no matter who's in front of him. All of this afternoon's activities were pretty low-contact, so nothing got out of hand. As the session wound down, another thing I noticed was Cormier, Aliu and prospect Carl Klingberg working on one-timers and wrist shots as the other skaters were making their way off the ice. As the three of them began dumping pucks into buckets, I got the sense that it wasn't a show for the coaches, that in Cormier the Thrashers may have a workman-like leader in the future.
Overall, the increase in size was obvious from last year to this, and it seemed like the pace was a little more brisk as well. There were some familiar faces from last year: Daulton Leveille, Nicklas Lasu, and OSU centerman John Albert rocking some Camaro-ready hair. Check out the schedule over at the Thrashers' site and come down for one of the 4-on-4 scrimmages on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday. The ice makes for a nice break from 100 degree Atlanta afternoons.