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07-16-2012, 08:58 AM
PHX FireBirds18
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Sorry for posting this so late. Been moving around a lot lately but I figured people would still like to read my thoughts. Went to the camp on Friday so all my opinions are mostly based off one practice. I also decided to not to grab a roster until the end of camp just to see if maybe I saw things any differently. Not sure if it worked, but here are the three that impressed me the most, and the 3 biggest disappointments.

Left Gormley off this list because he owned everyone in the drills and scrimmage. It looked so effortless. I don't think I saw him breathe out of his mouth or sweat the whole time. When you beat people clean on the first try all the time you don't need to work hard. He's going to be a big minute player in the future. Remember a few years ago I was watching some Red Wings behind the scenes show. They showed Lidstrom riding the bike after just playing 28 mins that night. Such a workhorse.

Henrik Samuelsson- He might not have been the strongest player at camp but he sure looked like it on the ice. Literally just drags people with him where ever he is. Wether it be in the corners or through the neutral zone. Obviously if we threw him into the NHL right now that would change, but he does look like a legit power forward prospect. He does kind of lumber around a bit like some of the scouting reports have said, but he's strong on his skates and his top end speed is fine. The only improvements that need to be made are his turning and first couple of steps after doing so. Doan made the adjustment well into his career. The shot is as advertised, but I was particularly impressed by his ability to use his line mates. Very good passer on the rush and out of the corners displaying smooth puck handling in the process. The last couple of years I've been wondering how on earth are we ever going to replace Doan when he retires. Players like him are such a rarity. I'm not saying Samuelsson well ever replace what Shane brings but his skill set is exciting to have thinking about all the softies we've drafted in the past.

Rhett Holland- Was the second best D-man in camp right behind Gormley. In a camp that doesn't allow you to be real physical I felt like it was his hockey IQ that really stood out to me the most. Very good in his positioning and stick work and was strong in front of the net. Dman that knows his strengths and plays to them. Doesn't do anything fancy on the breakout. Takes the first option or its off the glass and out. Style wise I see him molding into an Aucoin type of player. Obviously hearing about him being a real physical player had me intrigued about him even more since I didn't get to see that side in camp. My curiousity took me to youtube which lead me to a video of him messing up people on youtube as a 14 year old. Awesome. Hope to catch a few of his games this year at Michigan State.

Niklas Tikkinen- There were a few guys I considered for the last spot but Tikkinen's skill set was very impressive. Looked very raw and very small out there but might of been the most pure skilled player in camp. Kind or reminds me of Enstrom the way he moves out there. You can tell he's played forward before because right when he gives the breakout pass it looks like he wants to join the forwards for rush every time. You can see it in his eyes. I know this look, I see it in Yandle all the time. Not sure why he made the switch to D. I'm curious to know what the reasoning for that was since he looks like more a forward. Maybe he will switch positions again like Summers. Either way, he's going to have to get bigger. Schlemko would look massive next to him.

Honorable mentions to Brown, Fejes, and Martinook who were all hard working talented players.

My 3 biggest disappointments would have to start with Connor Murphy. Just because I liked what I saw last year and it sucks not being able to see how he developed over the course of this past season. Phil Lane would be next on my list. For being one of the bigger guys at the camp he didn't really seem to engage himself physically very often. Understandable considering nobody was really all that physical but at least lean on someone. This was magnified only because it looks like there was talent there to be one of the better players in camp. Smaller players all around him were working twice as hard the effort was simply not there. The final guy on my list would be Mathieu Brodeur. The guy is the biggest one in camp and gets dangled on regular basis. The biggest pylon on the ice I've ever seen. I don't like to not root for someone but the guy has been horrible every time I've seen him play. He's outmatched in front of the net and isn't even good along the boards. One of older prospects there who has pro experience and was just getting beat over and over again by recently drafted prospects.

My overall thoughts on this camp is that it wasn't as skilled as years past, but much more competitive. Very entertaining.

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