2011 Prospect Camp: The Scrimmages

[Editor's Note: Promoted to front page. Made minor revisions for spacing and punctuation errors, but otherwise un-adjusted. Thanks for sharing! - Andy]

I make no particular claim of expertise, but I did go to the scrimmages today and bring back the following impressions. There were two 25 minute periods. The first period they played 5 on 5. The second began with power plays, then four on four, then three on three, then five on three and other such drills. My guess is the coaches did this to give the players more time between shifts. The camp ended with a shootout with all players shooting. 

The Arch City Army was out in force, with sweaters, scarfs, singing and cheers. I like those people. 

Ryan Johansen looked about like I expected. At first I wasn't that impressed, but it soon became clear he was probably the most relaxed person on the ice, contented. HIs passes sang, were accurate and he created a number of scoring chances for himself and his White Team.  Great stick. He scored twice (don't quote me) was solid defensively, and boy is that kid big. And his babyface makes it obvious he's still a kid.  I'm not ready to commit to him being in Columbus this year (past the first nine games anyway, but it seems possible).  Still, Johansen might want to work on his faceoffs. The Blue Team matched him up against Michigan's Kevin Lynch, and Lynch seemed to win the big ones. But I can't see Lynch as an NHL regular, maybe an AHL checking line guy. Good defensively but his stick skills are not to NHL standard. 

We'll be seeing Cameron Atkinson this year, later if not sooner.  The things you've read about him are all true, he has speed, skill and a wicked wrister. He scored back to back goals during the 5 on three power play drills. One shot was so open I could probably have hit it. But I think he drifted a bit on defense, though showed some good stick checks. The comparison to Matt Calvert with a better shot seems right on, but Matt seems a better defender.  

Camp Invitee Patrick Kennedy scored the first goal of the afternoon, and may have won an invitation to for real camp with solid, effective play. Oliver Gabriel didn't hurt himself a bit either.  

Boone Jenner is a big, big kid with a nose for the puck and wicked stick skills.  Those he put on display early, but capped with a wicked deke then drag around Martin Ouellette that would have been a hightlight film had it happened during an actual game.  But he skates like Mike Commodore.  I don't know how you teach skating to boys who have been skating for years, but if someone can teach to to be half Kris Russell he has a very high ceiling.  It was also fun hearing the fans yell "Booooooooooooooone!"

Tiny draftee Mike Reilly also impressed me a  with his speed, skill and nose. We won't be seeing him for a while. Reilly makes Kris Russell look big, so he needs to spend a few college years in the weight room and at the training table.  

Petr Straka won some points with me too. 

Among the defensemen Anton Blomquist looked the best, and I wasn't impressed by Will Weber at all. But I have a much harder time judging defensemen than forwards, probably because I'm still learning the game. The goaltending seemed about equal really, both had good and bad moments. The final 12-8 White score struck me as more reflecting the play than the goaltending.   

So those are my impressions. Opinions may vary.

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