It just doesn't get any better than to see hockey in July, especially when it involves a lot of eager teenagers getting their first (or second) taste of what it takes to be an NHL player. It was fun to get out of the office and see all the other bloggers, tweeters, and qik videographers that have been my lifeline over the last few days.
Here is the neat little 500 word wrap up for The Daily Herald that will appear on Sunday.
Predator Prospects Compete at Development Camp
Thirty of the Nashville Predators top prospects spent the last several days at the team’s Development Camp held at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville.
The camp is held annually and is by invitation, generally to younger players who have been drafted within the last few years.
Eleven of the players this year are still in college and had to pay their own expense to attend in order to preserve their NCAA eligibility.
All ten of the players that the Predators drafted in last month’s entry draft were able to participate this year. Eighteen-year-old defenseman, Ryan Ellis, who the Preds took 11th, overall, received considerable attention.
Ellis was already a fan favorite and gave fans that attended Saturday’s open session a preview of things to come. As the workout was winding down, in a shoot-out drill, Ellis wound up and fired a point blank slap shot at the net that drew cheers from the crowd.
Asked what he learned at the camp Ellis explained, “How big of a jump the NHL is from Junior ranks and how much you need to put in to it to get to the next step.” Ellis is probably headed back to Junior hockey where he will play for the defending Memorial Cup champions, the Windsor Spitfires.
Several other prospects were more focused on the opportunity to land a position with the Predators when training camp opens in September. Forwards Colin Wilson and Nick Spaling and Defensemen Jonathan Blum and Teemu Laasko are considered to have the best chance of those in camp to stick with the Preds in the fall.
Colin Wilson, who was one of the Preds two first round picks in 2008, was a standout in the workouts and is destined to spend time with the Predators at some point in the coming season.
The always-smiling Wilson, will be a fan favorite, not only for his high level of play on the ice, but for his positive attitude and the appearance that he really enjoys playing the game.
When asked if the team’s high expectations added pressure to the camp, Wilson responded, “I kind of like the pressure. It’s a bit of a challenge for me to make the team, but at the same time the option is there. It’s what motivates and drives me in the weight room and out on the ice.”
The Predators other first round pick in 2008, goalie Chet Pickard, is expected to play in Milwaukee of the AHL this year but that has not slowed his competitive spirit.
When asked about the coming season, Pickard clearly stated, “ My plan obviously is to make this team here. When everyone comes to camp, they want to do whatever they can to make the Nashville Predators, and I’m going to do everything I can to prepare myself for that.”
For most in attendance, the camp was one of many steps in the long road to their NHL dreams.
Here are a few interviews from after the session with Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis, Chet Pickard, Ian McKenzie and Casey Wellman.
Around Predator Nation...
A couple of rumors to start with. Forechecker points to a story from San Jose that indicates that Scotty Nichol may become a Shark. From @brandon_felder: "Oh yea. Forgot to pass along the rumor that Pihlstrom may not accept NSH QO and play in Europe instead. Just a lil rumor I heard."
Forechecker has a great article from the last day of camp that throws kudos to the whole Nashville blogging community and others. It was really good to see everyone today and seeing all the fan's having a great time. September will never arrive soon enough.
Here are a couple of videos from Predators.com. The first is from Saturday's camp with Comments by Barry Trotz and others.
The second video is one from Colin Wilson, Chet Pickard and other's visit to Children's Hospital on Friday. Enough good things can't be said about Colin Wilson. He is the real deal, on and off the ice.
I finally got to meet fellow Inside Hockey contributor Wes Cunningham who does a great job as a photographer at a lot of Pred games. Here are some great shots he took at Saturday's final workout.
Jim Diamond has a great "feel good" story about Predator's 4th round pick Nick Oliver over at the Examiner.
Around the NHL...
In Phoenix, The "mystery bidder" has shown their face. The CBC has details here. While the investment group are allegedly Canadian, the plan is to keep the team in Phoenix. The nasty side of the story in the desert today, involves Wayne Gretzky filing legal action against the City of Glendale to protect his monetary interest in the sale.
The Devils are set to open their rookie camp on Monday with no head coach. Lou Lamoriello hopes to have a coach in place by the end of the week.
On Long Island, Newsday has a story about John Tavares and Brian Trottier's first meeting. Their individual arrivals on the Island are stark in the contrast.
With the announcement set to ne made on Wednesday for this Years Winter Classic in Boston, Ryan at the Red Light District has a few suggestions to make it even better.
From Inside Hockey is a list of AHL players that have changed teams. Milwaukee is the quietest of all with only Drew MacIntyre going to the Thrashers.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass