— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 8, 2016
That it is but a snapshot of what we hope is to come. You can’t make serious impressions or judgements based off of what is essentially a particularly hardcore game of shinny – but you can have a lot of fun with it.
Camp invitees go hard
Not that any of these guys are guaranteed a job, but when you come in to a camp as a free agent, you’ve gotta work to try to change that status just a little more than the other guys. So it makes sense guys with the unusual names would have stood out a little more than the presumed suspects.
Chief among these players, from my vantage point rinkside, was Sheldon Rempal. Dennis Kravchenko and Spencer Foo were up there as well, but Rempal absolutely crushed it. He stood out to me more than most – even more than a player like, say, Matthew Tkachuk – but it’s what he had to do as an invitee.
That doesn’t mean he’s made it, but it should hopefully mean this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.
Defence has a bright future
At this rate, Oliver Kylington is going to be in the NHL sooner rather than later. His skating is phenomenal; his brain matches up with it and the heart was present. He was all over the ice, and it’s a genuine thrill to see all the best parts of him come together. Brandon Hickey had a similar impressive showing as well, and Adam Fox is an exciting player in the same sort of vein.
Adam Ollas-Mattsson stood out as one of the better big guys. He doesn’t have the size of a Keegan Kanzig, but he’s still pretty big himself – and has that extra mobility to go with it without losing any of the physicality. (Not defence, but in the same line of thinking: you could see Hunter Smith trying to engage much more physically through the scrimmage, including a rather notable sort of self-knockout in the corner, but he doesn’t look to be on the same level.)
I liked Rasmus Andersson from the bit I saw from him – including a pretty solid drive forward at one point – but let’s remember he’s going into his first year of being a pro. Kylington may have taken the more dramatic step forward in their draft+1 years, though – but he also played at a much higher level.
The second round is good
Tyler Parsons may have been the most impressive goalie of the day, while Dillon Dube cemented himself as one of the top forwards of the scrimmage. It’s one thing to see these guys drafted in the second round; it’s another when you watch them play up close for the first time and say, “Oh. I get it. That’s why.”
Dube is seriously going to be one to watch next WHL season. He hasn’t even turned 18 yet and he was outplaying most of the guys on the ice. The skill level was more than there, and a fully healthy season from him could see a fair share of question marks as to just how he almost fell to the third round.
(On similar note, fellow small local boy Matthew Phillips is very noticeably tiny, but watching him dart through players a foot taller than him to get a shot on net was an absolute delight.)
Eetu Tuulola is justifying his status as early fan favourite
I’ve loved Eetu Tuulola pretty much since he was drafted. It didn’t matter that English isn’t his first language, he’s a great interview already. When asked where he was planning to play next year, he mentioned North America could happen, saying he might even play in the NHL, because “everything is possible in this life.”
Boom. Instantly smitten.
Which is why this scrimmage was so great – because it helped justify that love even further. Tuulola was a bull and a goal-scoring machine with a hell of a shot. He clearly wants to play in North America – coming overseas to your draft alone expresses as much – and hopefully he’ll make the jump to Everett to get further acclimated with the ice here.
Because he’s been a Flame for all of two weeks, and he’s already got the love of the people. “Every day playing hockey is great,” he told Craig Conroy, via Wes Gilbertson for Postmedia.
Big body. Plays physical. Loves to score. Potential pest. Quote machine. God, you’ve gotta hope he makes it.