The Nashville Predators completed their 2012 development camp Sunday at Centennial Sportsplex in West End. The camp lasted for a week and had on-ice practices Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The players arrived Monday, June 25 and ended Sunday.
Read more after the jump.
Throughout last week, the prospects were worked hard every day. Except Monday because that is when the players arrived and did their physicals. But Tuesday through Sunday, these players worked from seven in the morning, until five in the afternoon. These players will not miss the early wake-ups and hardwork, but will miss being around each other's company.
The Predators had players from Canada, United States, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, and even Hungary. Not so surprisingly, there were no Russian players at the camp. General Manager of the Nashville Predators, David Poile is staying away from potentialy being burned again.
There were seven Milwaukee Admirals present at camp this year. In forwards, Taylor Beck, Michael Latta and Juuso Puustinen. In defensemen, Taylor Aronson, Victor Bartley, Anthony Bitetetto and Scott Valentine. Of those seven players, Michael Latta is the most ready to be the next Predators' role player.
Of course the main player focused in the 2012 camp was Swedish defenseman, Mattias Ekholm. Ekholm was in the line-up early in the season, but because of being in head coach Barry Trotz's doghouse due to lack of play and performance, he was sent back to the Swedish Elite League for Brynas. Playing in the SEL, Ekholm scored nine goals and eight assists in 41 games.
Mattias Ekholm showed good skill at camp with the other prospects. The extra season in the SEL should have helped him getting prepared to play in the NHL this coming season. No one knows yet where Ekholm will be at the start of the season because of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber's options to not be a Predator.
In the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Predators selected Jimmy Vesey 66th overall in the 3rd round. The pick was a reach for a kid coming out of the Eastern Junior Hockey League and attending Harvard for the next four years. That means Vesey won't be a Predator until, possibly, the 2017-18 season. It is very unlikely that Vesey is going to leave an Ivy League school like Harvard early. Harvard is very hard to get into, obviously, so why would he leave?
With the South Shore Kings in the EJHL, Jimmy Vesey was a scorer. Vesey scored 48 goals and 43 assists in 45 games last season, but that was in the EJHL where not too many NHLers come out of. The competition isn't there. Luckily, Vesey will be playing hockey in the NCAA for Harvard, where competition is high.
At development camp, Vesey looked really good. He used his speed and scoring touch to get pucks past the goaltenders. It was impressive! Playing for Harvard will allow us to see how good he really is. Jimmy Vesey could be a sleeper pick that pays off in the long run.
I had a short chat with Jimmy Vesey after he came off the ice.
Austin Watson was a guy that was being focused by many fans. Watson played for the London Knights, out of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2012 Memorial Cup. His team fell short in the finals and lost to the Shawinigan Cataractes, 2-1.
Watson's size and experience should land him in Milwaukee in the AHL. He could make as strong push in making the NHL team as the season progresses. Ryan Shannon, our Fang Faction writer, caught up with him Sunday after the development camp scrimmage.
There were three goalies who attended camp this year. Magnus Hellberg was the main focus in the goaltenders. Hellberg was drafted in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 38th overall. This year, Nashville drafted Marek Mazanec in the 6th round. The third goalie, Zoltan Hetenyi was invited to join the camp out of Budpest, Hungary.
A lot of fans and J.R. Lind like Hentenyi because of his first name, Zoltan. But let's take a more professional look at Zoltan Hetenyi, Magnus Hellberg and Marek Mazanec.
At 8:30 AM Thursday, June 28, there was a thirty minute goaltender session with goalie coach, Mitch Korn. Mazanec, Hentenyi and Hellberg were together on the ice doing the simple goalie drills like T-pushes, shuffles, butterfly, half-butterfly and positioning. Surprisingly, the goalie who did the drills best was Zoltan Hetneyi and the goalie who did it worst was Magnus Hellberg.
Hellberg was very tired after a few of the drills and threw is helmet on the ice after the T-push/shuffle drill due to fatigue. Also, on the shuffles, Hellberg lost his edge and tumble on the ice. Either Hellberg was tired because of track training at Vanderbilt 190 minutes before, or he was out-of-shape. Mitch Korn was paying close attention to Hellberg rather than Hetenyi and Mazanec.
Even though Hellberg didn't do so hot in the simple mechanics of the goaltender position, he covers the net well and can stop pucks. His 6'5" size allows him to not move as much in his crease. Although, that is not how Korn likes his goalies to be. He wants them mobile as much as possible.
Zoltan Hetenyi wasn't expected to do much at development camp. Poile just wanted to give Hetenyi a shot at a contract and to play with other future NHLers. Hetenyi surprised everyone, who was paying attention, at development camp. He has a bright future, if he follows the right path. Hopefully, we see Poile signing him to acquire his rights and bring him back to a couple more camps.
Marek Mazanec looked good Thursday with his agility. He looked average. There really wasn't anything that dazzled me, but the dazzling will come in soon. Since just Saturday, June 23 Mazenec was drafted, he has to feel a lot of nervousness. In the upcoming years he attends at camp, Mazanec will show his utmost potential.