Saturday, July 12, 2008
Due to something called "work," I haven't been able to get out to the rink to check out the prospects for as long as I'd like. But I have been able to get out there a couple of times and was out there this morning, with my new camera in tow. I had been reluctant to take any serious notes since we're essentially looking at an unfinished product with these prospects feeling each other out and getting back into the groove of being out on the ice for 2-a-days.
Since I had the time today, I took a few notes. They're not extensive by any means, but here they are:
Jonathan Bernier - He has been one of the few that has easily impressed me with his work between the pipes. He's so calm and doesn't make many overly panicked movements. His lateral movement across the goal line and around the top of the crease is impressive. He knows exactly how much push he needs in order to get from one post to the top of the crease down to the other pipe. The control of his legs is really something worth taking note of.
I thought he engaged in good, clear communication with his defenders. For example, after one drill was finished, he called a defender back to him and it looked like they hashed out what Bernier needed from him in that situation. That type of communication is definitely a quality in a player that I like seeing. There was one drill that was a breakout drill starting with the goalie going around behind the net and either passing the puck out to a defenseman or leaving it behind the net. I thought Bernier's puck-handling abilities were controlled enough. I don't remember ever looking at that specific skill so I can't really gauge his improvement in that area. All in all, Bernier has continued to impress even though he let in some pucks here and there. Although, I'd attribute that to the skills of the forwards.
Jeff Zatkoff - In the drill that I just mentioned, I was definitely not impressed with anything Zatkoff was doing behind the net. The way he was holding his stick made him look uncomfortable while he was behind the net. Sometimes he wouldn't even be able to control the puck, which you could attribute to being a bouncing puck, but still...
Drew Doughty - What can I say about this kid; he's just impressive to watch. His skating is so smooth that he looks like he's floating over the top of the ice. His positional play makes me just shake my head because it just looks so easy for him. If anyone has any doubts as to why he was picked 2nd overall, please go to the camp Sunday or Monday and watch him skate. Plain and simple, we struck gold with this kid.
Justin Azevedo - He definitely looked to have more confidence out there today than at the beginning of the week. His face didn't show the frustrations that were present a few days ago, which I'll take as a good sign. But I still couldn't ignore the fact that he was still getting easily pushed around while on the puck. Perhaps he could stay a little more steady around the corners if he hit the gym this summer while focusing on his core. His center of gravity is already lower than everyone else's but it doesn't really help when you get cross checked on the side of the head. I think if he was 3 or 4 inches taller, that cross check he got from another prospect would have been on his shoulder instead. I wasn't too impressed at the beginning of this week, but he has shown progress and I just have to keep reminding myself that these are raw prospects.
Geordie Wudrick - If you don't yet know, this is the kid that talks a mile a minute in interviews that make them absolutely hilarious to watch. He definitely has some sweet skills but I think his excitement with getting the puck makes him kind of go all over the place. Saying that, I thought the speed with which he got his shots off was decent. He also had quick feet while staying smooth around corners.
Colten Teubert - Besides Bernier, Teubert has been the big stand out for me. I can already recognize his skating/movement style, which is very in-your-face. He hasn't been letting down in any of the drills I've seen him do and he's got that steely look on his face that tells you he means business as he's plastering you to the glass. I can already see him becoming a favorite of mine, and I'm sure he's forcing management to take notice of him. He's only 18 and would have to go back to Juniors if he didn't make it onto the Kings roster for next season. In any case, I'm very excited to see how he does at training camp. As a side note: he has a presence about him where I'd be perfectly okay with ripping all his clothes off.
Oscar Moller - This kid is pretty easy to recognize out there. Just look for the shorter kid that can hold his own against the guys that are over six feet tall. The way he's built at 5'11" reminds me a bit of how Lubo skates, nimble with efficient strides. He's got a quick release and is also adorable in the face.
Martin Nolet - This is a defenseman out of the college ranks. The only reason I really noticed him was because he got hit square in the mouth with a puck on Friday and was wearing a full face shield/cage today. I felt bad for the guy, definitely, but I'll give him some props since he definitely held his own out on the ice.
Garrett Roe - Didn't really pay too much attention to him, but I noticed that he was a speedy little guy who fought for every puck.
Viatcheslav Voinov - After getting his visa taken care of, he was out on the ice today. For some reason, his movements kept making me think he was a forward. I don't know why, but I had to make an effort to remember that he was a defenseman. After just one day, I can only say that I hope he stays through next week in order to get some practice time in with the other prospects. The other Russian prospect, Andrei Loktionov is still in Russia dealing with visa issues apparently.
There have been 4 German kids that have joined the Kings prospects in this camp; Florian Busch, Frank Hordler, Alexander Weiss, and Andre Rankel. The one that I've noticed the most out of these four is Busch. During any type of one-on-one drills, he definitely utilized his quick shot toward the goal. I thought he also had good maneuvering skills while handling the puck.
Since today was the first day of seeing the second group of guys that are going to be here all next week, I didn't really take any notes on them. I will say the early standout is Wayne Simmonds and that he's in desperate need of some protein shakes. 6'1" at 162 pounds = lanky as hell.