A week of Calgary Flames development camp has come to an end, and for all us hockey junkies starved for the sound of skate blades hitting the ice, it was a pretty darn good week. While it was tough to get any accurate reads on where exactly the players are at this point, it was still fun to watch and make some observations.
Mikael Backlund was the one guy that some were surprised to see at the camp when the initial roster was announced. However, because the 21 year old is still on his first NHL contract, he was eligible to attend the camp. I thought it might be a little unfair to expect Backlund to be a level above the rest of the prospects…the thinking of some was that he played 23 NHL games last season, so he’d be noticeably more advanced. But, from what I saw, you could tell his comfort level was a little higher. The most noticeable thing was poise from Backlund, which showed in how he read some of the situations during competitive drills. When he attacked the puck, when he decided to lay back a little bit, and how he used positioning were all a little more advanced than some of his campmates.
Other forwards looked good throughout the week as well. Lots of eyes were on Brian Cameron, the 53 goal scorer who ripped things up in his final OHL season. It’s clear right off the bat the guy has a knack for the net, and he has great touch around the net. I liked how Mitch Wahl extended plays and drills, using a good little burst to catch up to pucks a little out of his reach in stride. I think he’s got some pretty special qualities about him, to be honest, I’m really excited to see him in his frist pro season.
On the blueline, it seems everyone is talking about TJ Brodie, the 2008 fourth round draft pick. He’s really seen his stock rise within the Flames organization, and his 33 points in 46 games after a trade to Barrie certainly helped that. But with two straight 50+ point seasons, he showed there is some offensive upside. And I wrote earlier in the week about Tim Erixon, who I enjoyed watching, just because it was my first time watching him in person. He seems to be a skater, from my 100% non-expert view, and he transitions pretty impressively. He’s clearly still a project, as his ceiling continues to be evaluated, but I enjoyed watching him.
So, camp is done, White is signed, and now we wait to see what else happens this offseason.