July 12 2013 08:09AM
The first day of on-ice work is complete at Calgary Flames Development Camp 2013. While it's incredibly difficult to say who was good or bad based on a series of skating and puck-handling drills, here were my general impressions of the first few sessions.
THE 2013 DRAFT CLASS
The recent draft picks generally looked good. Sean Monahan appears to be physically ready to compete for an NHL job. For reference, he's a tad bigger and wider than Max Reinhart, Roman Horak and Sven Baertschi. He's unlikely to face the same concerns from on-lookers about getting muscled off the puck. He also displayed a very accurate wrist shot.
Emile Poirier is fast. Really fast. His stride does appear to be a bit odd, in a mechanical sense, but he gets up to speed really quickly and retains maneuverability. Very impressive. Similarly, Keegan Kanzig is incredibly big and his skating appears to be better than advertised. He's by no means the best skater on the ice, but he was more mobile than I expected him to be.
Arguably the biggest surprise from the new batch was sixth rounder Tim Harrison. He's big, but plays like a smaller guy. He's quite mobile and uses his body surprisingly well. He's a project, but I was very impressed with the small sample size I got from him.
I didn't particularly notice Morgan Klimchuk, but to be fair, there were a lot of guys on the ice.
THE OLDER PROSPECTS
Johnny Gaudreau is a tad more filled out than he was a year ago. He's not taller, but he appears to be living in a dorm near a gym and eating regular meals. Similarly, Mark Jankowski has physically progressed pretty well. According to the Flames website's Torie Peterson, he's up to six-foot-three (and a half) and gained 14 pounds from this time last year. It shows on the ice.
Both Flames goaltenders in Group A – Reto Berra and Jon Gillies – looked strong. Berra made a handful of really strong desperation saves, while Gillies just did what he does – being huge and blocking off the net. Brossoit and Ortio were both solid in Group B from what I saw.
Corban Knight and Kenny Agostino both looked strong in the puck-handling and two-on-one drills. Turner Elson did a fairly good job creating traffic in front of the net during several drills, to the point where one defender (I couldn't tell who precisely) shoved him into the net and knocked it off its moorings in frustration.
Lots children circulated around the Winsport complex, many of whom wrangled with each other for Flames prospect autographs. FN fave Mikael Backlund also appeared, doing a few interviews about his fancy new contract and signing autographs. Kids really wanted autographs from Monahan, Sven Baertschi and Gaudreau, it seems, but they were buzzing around all the players whenever they were off the ice. Hockey market.
Hard to say if Ryan Howse and/or Michael Ferland are in appreciably better shape than last year. A lot of guys were huffing and puffing late in the sessions, but that can easily be attributed to the coaching staff pushing them hard, as well as the fact that it was a lot of the players' first times on the ice in awhile.
Players with low numbers today: Sean Monahan with #23, Roman Horak with #21, Corban Knight with #10. And due to the hard work of Flames equipment manager Mark DiPasquale, all the jerseys had numbers crested on them. Three cheers!
A LOOK AHEAD
There's scrimmages at 10am on Saturday and Monday. So plan your absences from work and/or families accordingly.
Last day for Got Loob? Shirts
Today is the cut off point to buy your limited edition Got Loob? FN shirt. If we can close out sales with a bang and sell out the first batch inventory, we'll be sure to print and sell other designs in the near future. Leading contenders are Intellectual Honesty and GRITCHART in my mind...