Down With The Kids
While I like to make fun of Prospects Camp, because it is kind of weird, there is something about spending a July morning/early afternoon watching hockey for free. Apparently, a lot of people thought it was a great way to spend a lunch break, because the conga line back to the cars after the 2nd period this afternoon was rather comedic. But hey, it's your lunch, spend it however you like.
As far as what went on the ice today, kudos to whoever made the decision to make more room along the glass open to Hawks fans to watch. I recall last year that the only space you could watch at ice-level was right next to the stairs at center ice. It was cool to get a look from the corner against the glass this time.
And yet, after making the drive and finding a spot, I don't think I've discovered anything you didn't know already. The two players to stand out the most were Teuvo Teravainen and Phillip Danault. Teravainen clearly had the best hands on display, and a hockey sense not matched by anyone else at camp. Yeah, he's not very big, but at least among kids his age he was hardly physically manhandled, and in fact was able to win a couple battles for the puck. He knows how to use that low center of gravity and quickness. He scored a goal after combining with Dan Delisle, showing off a wicked release. He sees the ice well, and basically he was everything promised. Except for faceoffs, which could come. He's going to need a season in the AHL before he cracks the NHL I think, but he stood out.
As for Danault, he just seems to be everywhere he's supposed to be. Every time he was on the ice, he just seemed to be everywhere. Popping up behind the net to win the puck back, and then joining the cycle from the left wing, and then on the right to keep a puck in. It just finds him. He worked hard -- more than could be said for his linemate Brandon Saad, but more than that in a minute -- and just knows where to be. His goal came after a lucky bounce, but again there he was right where he needed to be to cash it in. The odd thing was Brandon Saad was taking Danault's draws, and not very well either.
Players under the radar to turn heads were firstly goalie Andrew Hammond. I don't know where a 24-year old invitee's future lies, but Hammond spent the 1st period making highlight save after highlight save. The only goal he conceded came after a 2-on-0 that got like four whacks at the rebound after Jake Chelios got a little goofy with the puck. This may be the only time that Hammond gets to put on the Indian Head, but he made it count.
Vincent Hinostronza gets knocked around a lot but keeps getting back up. Maxim Shalunov kept creating chances as well as getting some of his own, but couldn't finish any of them. North Dakota d-man Joe Gleason showed a pretty good head on his shoulders, but a 5-9 blue liner has an iffy future. For not heading to college yet, Sam Jardine could be something one day. I wish Adam Clendening or Justin Holl stood out more.
As for the other main focus for everyone, Brandon Saad spent most of the afternoon looking at his watch. And rightly so. Here's a kid who's already played in the NHL and whose real battle will be making the Opening Night roster, not trying to earn an invite to camp. Mark McNeil on the other hand didn't do anything that stood out, and I wonder why. He doesn't look all that quick, and I'm not sure what he thinks he's guaranteed here. For a center, he doesn't see the ice as well as you'd like, or at least hasn't in the two glimpses I've had of him this summer and last. But still only 19, so you never know.