Summer camp has come and gone for a group of young hopefuls. Today the Blue Jackets concluded the on-ice portion of their Development/Prospects Camp, which they held at the Dispatch Ice Haus. All that is left for Friday is fitness testing, followed by exit interviews.
I wasn't able to watch as much of this weeks practices as I'd like, but I did come away with a few impressions.
-- The prospect scrimmage on Thursday should have been called The Derick Brassard Show. Brassard has already been in Columbus, working with strength and conditioning coach Barry Brennan. It's already proven to be helpful as Thursday he skated circles around a group that just a year ago were his peers. I am confident that he is on the right path to have a very successful career in the NHL.
-- I really liked what I saw from John Hughes. On Tuesday, he spent a lot of time playing with Jake Voracek and Matt Calvert, and didn't look out of place. Hughes is an undrafted free agent. Last year he played for the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. Hopefully he impressed enough to earn a contract.
-- The group of defensemen that this team now has coming through the pipeline is starting to look very impressive. Ruth, Weber, Plekhanov, Goloubef, Holden, Clitsome, Sigalet. If just a few of these guys(all eyes are on Ruth, Weber, and Goloubef) mature into legit NHL defenseman, this team will be stacked in a few short years.
What is most impressive about the d-men at camp is their ability to move the puck, skate well, and shoot accurately. All characteristics the Jackets have been looking for and coming up empty through free agency. People will shortly see what GM Scott Howson means by "the talent must come from within the organization."
-- Jake Voracek is an interesting topic. It is my belief that he is beyond ready for the NHL. He has physically matured, on top of being arguably the most NHL ready prospect in his Draft year, 2007. What I did see is a player that can move anywhere on the ice with the puck and has no trouble moving the puck through the neutral zone. He is a good passer and has a great shot when he uses it.Â
The apprehension among the fanbase is warranted, after all, Voracek is in the same boat Brule was not too long ago. He is too young for the AHL, but has nothing left to prove in Juniors. The one stark difference I see between the two is Jake's determination. Brassard has been getting a lot of credit for spending his summer in Columbus to train, bulk up, and prepare for the season. Don't forget Jake has been there right along with him.
Watch out for both of these boys to become men this September.
I'll leave you with some video I shot at the training camp, as well as a link to pictures I took.