Before today, I never literally found myself in a “you snooze, you lose” situation.
After my first trip to development camp, I came home and napped for the first time in years. Yup, that’s right; I took a nap and it was awesome.
I saw no urgent reason to rush to post something on camp, as I could offer little more than the meaningless observations I posted on Twitter earlier: Tom Sestito is big! Oliver Lauridsen is tall! Kevin Marshall and Erik Gustafsson know how to skate!
So, I took time to collect my thoughts and actually sleep on it, only to find that Travis Hughes beat me to the punch — and he hit the nail right on the head.
It’s impossible to gauge a player’s talent, guess his overall worth, or project his potential NHL role after watching him participate in a couple hours of short, structured drills.
Unlike Travis, though, I found development camp to be exciting.
Camp is a place where hardcore hockey fans can come together at a frigid rink in July — while most people are dreaming of sunny days at the beach — and watch the sport they love. We get to see stars of tomorrow like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier skate an arm’s length away from us. While they’re playing, we get to be surrounded by like-minded people, discussing hot topics like this surreal offseason and the future of the team.
Of course, watching drills is not as entertaining as watching a game or even a scrimmage but it’s better than not watching hockey at all. Maybe it’s just the indie rock kid in me who takes pride in seeing bands before anyone has heard of them and knowing that acts like Green Day were sleeping on my cousin’s floor during stops in Philly long before they were MTV sellouts but I love that camp provides a level of intimacy with players that may someday be heroes to a new generation of hockey fans.
If, someday, we get to witness Schenn lift a Cup over his head as a member of the Flyers, a day like today might fill you with the nostalgic memory of seeing him when he was just a scrawny kid, owning lower-level goalies like Notre Dame’s Brad Phillips.
Although some suggested he struggled today more than yesterday, Schenn clearly stood out from the competition. As Travis said to me at camp, “He is a man amongst boys.” He also has the potential to someday be a leader amongst men and, if that happens, I welcome the opportunity to look back to a day like today to see just how far he’s come.
Here are my general observations from today:
- Luke Pither, Shane Harper, and Zac Rinaldo showed some decent, if not, surprising offensive flair.
- Matt Read is 25, which means he’s older than Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, and Andreas Nodl, among others. He’s closer in age to Simon Gagne than he is some of the other players at camp. It’s not by much, mind you, but it’s worth keeping that in mind when you see him skating with teenage prospects.
- Was Harry Zolnierczyk even at camp? If so, he was about as visible as a Milford man.
- Little hype surrounds Kevin Marshall these days but, out of all the defenders, he and Erik Gustafsson appeared to be the most polished during the drills.
- If we can assume that Brayden Schenn was in a different class than the other players out there today and, therefore, NHL ready, then the same incredibly small sample size indicates that Sean Couturier would definitely benefit from remaining in Juniors for another year. Only time will tell, though.