As you have probably heard, the Blackhawks’ Prospect Camp got started today — and I was there tweeting updates the entire time. (Tomorrow and Monday will be covered on Kat’s Twitter; I’ll be back at the helm on Saturday and Sunday.) Camp was different this year, which the Blackhawks addressed in a way that made it clear that the change was necessary. It is also clear that this change will be advantageous for the players, as it will better prepare them to go on to training camp and regular practice — and will give the brass a better idea of who is actually ready. But whatÂ did the change mean to those of us who were watching?
At first, it meant a lot more idle time than usual. The transitions between groups skating and individual drills were pretty smooth, but then we would have large periods of time where nothing was happening while we waited for the next group to take the ice.
That little detail aside, today the change did something that the casual fans may not have appreciated very much: instead of being “exciting” in terms of scrimmage and large group of guys playing together, it was a lot more like watching a practice. That meant that those of us who were looking to see some of the players’ individual skills got to do so.
The exception to this was perhaps with goaltenders, as I have seen a big difference between making stops in a drill (when the shot is pretty clear and more expected) and making stops during a scrimmage (where the pace, number of people, and intensity resembles a ‘real’ playing situation much more closely).
We also got to see how fast the players learned, as the drills were explained to them, sometimes also modeled, and then the players were expected to go our there and get it done. It may have not been the most “entertaining,” but it was wonderfully informative. I feel like I know so much more about these prospects now that I have seen them skate than I did this morning when I showed up with my notes after a week of research. (If you would like to get a primer on the players before you dive in, Cheryl Adams had a great preview post atÂ The Checking Line.)
Photo: Leiram Rivera Soto
Overall, there really was no player that I looked at and said, “Wow, you’re not ready.” More than anything else, I was impressed by a lot of the guys I saw at camp last year; the growth was evident and so was their desire. While trying to pick out who stood out from each group, the first thing that came to mind was often, “X really wanted it.” I would say that most of the skills were consistent with what one would be looking for in an AHL player, but there were a couple of players that were solid and really seemed poised to make an impact at the NHL level. Of course, there are still four days of prospect camp to go — and it will be essential to see how they perform in teams and in roles that might be out of their comfort zones.
Let’s take a look at today group by group after the jump.