Saturday morning the 2010-2011 Atlanta Thrashers took the ice in the form or three different squads (Blue, White, Burgundy) and played two scrimmages in front of a rather full house. Fans certainly enjoyed watching some hockey action and it seemed that the players were all excited and ready to go as well.
The first day is always about impressions for me. You have to master all the new jersey numbers (my brain kept thinking #12 was Todd White). One immediate impression was how much quicker the pace was in NHL Camp compared to Prospects Camp which took place this last week. Everything is happening at breakneck speed out there.
I tend to pay more attention to the guys who are new to the organization, but to my surprise Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian really kept impressing me in the first scrimmage. Evander just looked a step quicker than nearly everyone. I have no idea how much weight he put on this summer, but he appears poised for another step forward this season. Bogosian was flying around and hitting people right and left--at one point he and Kane appeared to be ticked off at each other.
More observations and impressions:
Kyle McLaren looked very solid to me. He was moving well and eating up his lane. If this NHL veteran is finally healthy again he could force some very tough decisions on the coaching staff at the end of camp.
Ben Eager looked good to me, he was moving his feet well and was involved in the play. He finished off a back door chance by scoring a goal.
Burmistrov didn't dazzle while playing with the big boys, but what did impress me is how this small player was fearless about going into the corners and battling hard for pucks on the wall. To me it looks like he needs another year in juniors but I like his attitude a lot.
I didn't notice Nigel Dawes much in the first scrimmage but Team Blue pulled double duty and skated in both scrimmages. The second time around Dawes was more evident, scoring a goal and showing some nice puck sills.
Andrew Ladd showed his finishing skills. Peverley gained the offensive blueline on the left side, pulled up and dished a perfect cross-slot diagonal pass to a streaking Ladd on the right side and he buried it. In the regular season it would have been a highlight reel worthy.
I expected Modin to look a little bigger but he always skates with his knees bent making him look shorter. He made some solid plays, but I was slightly disappointed.
Sebastian Owuya was a 6th round draft pick this summer in LA and he has done nothing but impress. He still has things to learn and he needs to fill out his body. But he held his own against NHL guys at the age of 18. He's not ready now, but he showed a lot of potential and turned some heads.
Enstrom and Bogosian were a D pairing right off the bat and the chemistry was evident from the drop of the puck. They were dishing it back and forth all the time, you can see that they really trust each other.
Esposito is still coming back from his 2nd knee operation, but he showed some flair and made a nice dish to set up Chris Thorburn for a goal.
To me Dustin Byfuglien looked like a forward playing defense. He jumped up into the play frequently and certainly created over-load pressure offensively. The real question will be whether he can defend well enough.
Brett Sopel is wearing #3 this season. He was effective on the ice, but he has a 'distinctive' look out there. I think it was Timmyf who dubbed him "The Caveman" and it fits him well.
The stars of Prospect Training Camp (Zubarev and Pettersson) both looked fine at the main NHL Camp. They held their own against the bigger, faster NHL guys.