Been to camp today and I liked some of what I saw. First off, these kids were huge. It seems BH and DW are building a team of monsters.
Valabik is a monster--that we already knew. However, I saw a type of controlled aggression that reminds me of Stevens, Pronger and sometimes even Exelby. This kid loves to hit and on several occasions drilled forwards (3 on 3 situations).
Valabik can skate. Forget the nonsense about his poor skating, he's good enough for his level of development. He needs to work on his first step acceleration (who doesn't) and some agility (already adequate given his huge frame). Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with his skating. In all the drills he looked comfortable and his passes were generally crisp and tape to tape. His transition game looks OK too. He needs more time to develop and continue to work on his skating but within 1-2 years, he's a keeper.
Coburn is also huge. A fluid defensive game and smooth skating. Not nearly as aggressive as Valabik but hits and effectively and efficiently erases forwards. Nobody got by him, that I saw all day. He is polished and seems almost ready. Certainly the best defenseman on the ice today.
Manson has improved too. Here is another monster. His skating is so much better than when I last saw him that I didn't recognize him (except that he is the biggest guy on the ice). His shot is horrible (and I mean horrible). He has nothing for a shot--period! For a man his size this is disturbing. Maybe he can learn, but hell, it was ugly. I will say, however, if he continues to develop we may have something. He didn't look out of place (except for the shot ).
Thanks for the report DJ. How much better a skater is Coburn than Valabik? How about Valabik vs. Manson? What kind of shot did Valabik display?
Tough to say exactly. I think Coburn is a more smooth skater. Easy acceleration forward and backward, quicker first step. Solid slapshot--low and on target. Not overpowering. I don't get the feel that he'll be an offensive juggernaut.
Valabik seems to exert more effort but had little trouble, that I saw. Not as explosive a first step as Coburn but nice transition game. Probably just one year behind Coburn in development in terms of skating. I really was pleasantly surprised with the skating aspect. I don't remember the shot. I'll watch closely tomrrow.
Manson's skating was just horrible in years past so just to see him moving around was a nice surprise. Not in the same class as either Coburn or Valabik but tons better than before. His shot is actually very funny--midget-like is the only thing I can say. Did I mention that he is the largest player I have ever seen? He's in Chara's class.
I will specifically try to peg these guys against each other in terms of skills tomorrow.
A player I would like you to watch and comment on is #48 Conlan Seder
I've seen Conlan play from Peewee through to the WHL and liked what
I have seen but would like a comment from someone who doesn't know him
at all. Thanks in advance.
Turple is also big, very big. I thought he looked OK. It was hard because Kari was there today and he is just technically perfect. In comparison, we can see Turple is still somewhat green.
Having said that, Turple takes up most of the net in his butterfly position. His glove hand looked pretty quick and his side to side movement OK but needs some work. I think he's a solid draft choice that needs time to develop. Hartley's kid is not good and Caruso was there too and looked below average. In fact, the forwards tried to gravitate to their side of the ice and seemed to avoid Kari whenever possible.
Kari, on the other hand, is a stud. He seemed bigger than last year. There was a stretch where the forwards couldn't beat him for about 25 minutes. They were frustrated and Kari looked like he was hardly breaking a sweat. Economy of movement and efficiency of effort. He seemed to tempt shooters toward the 5 hole then take it away at the last instant. The only shots that beat him were lasers to the upper corners that touched iron. Not much to shoot at and not many eluded him. He seemed a bit out of shape to me and on one play moved awkwardly and seemed like he strained a gr... muscle (I will not jinx the kid by uttering that terrible word )
After morning practice he stopped to sign autographs and yuck it up with the kids. He's going to be a star, mark it down (how's that for going out on a limb?).
I'm sure Sharrow was glad Kari showed up so he isn't the whitest man in town again.
Kari has a new mask, it looks like it has a Scandanavian beauty on it (a cartoon maybe?). I'd like to hear him explain what it is. Did you see the beautiful saucer passes he was making today? The kid is sick. I didn't notice the forwards avoiding him, but that's pretty funny. Funny but wrong -- they should want the challenge.
The most stunning news of the day -- they closed the Borders by Gwinnett Place Mall! Do Gwinnetians not read? Where is the next closest bookstore? I have no way to kill time in Gwinnett County any longer. I was forced to buy shoes instead.
Oh, and in good news, Blimpie is now serving smoothies! There's one in the Kroger plaza on Sugarloaf.
I mostly agree on what you report but I would add these:
- Slater's speed is still unmatch and is a very good asset.
- Baby, disappoited a little bit by him, I've seen him shine on Wolves highlight but couldn't find the same appeal to his power game today...
- Jeff Dwyer, I just like this guy, I'm not sure why, but to me he looks good on the ice. Probably too small though to ever get in the big league...
- Sipotz, true for his age, he has still a lot of deficiencies but I did like his work on the defensive drills. Active with his stick and his arms, he shut down a lot of forwards...
- Valabik, I was pleasantly surprised by his forward skating and his shot (more the wrist than the slap though), greatly displayed in the morning session. In the afternoon, he didn't look as focused, showed too much passiveness on the defensive drills and proved he would greatly benefit from the power skating sessions since, like Holly said, his transition to backwards, as well as his backwards strides (too short and raw), needs more work. But nothing he cannot acquire in the next 2-3 years...
- Coburn: did anyone say he needed to get nastier? I really liked what I saw, he is now able to mix his smooth skating with a better use of his body, without forgetting his crisp passes. Does not seem too far from Atlanta to me, it'll be interesting to see him in camp against a better group of forwards.
- Sharrow: agree with Holly, he seemed off from time to time, maybe some injury...
- Oystrick: agree again with Holly, that's one of the guys who didn't impress me in the morning (skating, shooting) but really shone in the afternoon against the forwards.
That may have been my only session up there so keep up the good work Holly !
Kari has a new mask, it looks like it has a Scandanavian beauty on it (a cartoon maybe?). I'd like to hear him explain what it is.
Seen on atlantathrashers.com
5. What do you have painted on your masks?
LEHTONEN: There are a couple of girls on there (laughs). Our equipment guy, Joey [Guilmet], and I talked about what we were going to do. He got the idea to put on a couple of girls from one of the video games and there they are. I hope Coach [Hartley] is going to like it, but I don't think so (laughs). I think I need to get a new mask before training camp (laughs). On this one, it's an Outkast logo, a rap band from Atlanta. I like their music so I wanted to put it there and there it is now.
So both Kari and Ilya are addicted to rap music... Interesting
Has Oystrick gotten better as the week has gone on? B/c it makes me sad to head that he was having a little bit of a rough time...b/c he is an AWESOME player!!! He's been great the past two years at NMU, and hopefully this camp will make him even better.
Oh yeah...about Kari being a stud in goal...OFC OURSE HE IS A STUD...HE IS A FINN!!!
I'm sure he was invited, but he did not attend, no. Much to my disappointment.
And I worry about everyone. It's what I do. If I'm not worrying about someone, that's when it's a bad sign.
When I say I don't worry, I guess I'm viewing Oystrick on a slightly different plane (for a lack of a better term). I'll get a chance to see Oystrick throughout this coming season, so I'll be able to follow his progress. While he still has some work to do on his overall development (based on my observations of his play at NMU), he should continue to get better. If he didn't have ANYTHING to work on at the collegiate level then I would begin to worry.
Now, how all of the aforementioned translates at/to the pro level, is an entirely different story.