Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time is wasted.
Any writer good enough to make a cameo in Rodney Dangerfield’s Back To School is worth listening to. We’ll get straight to the prospect analysis.
Phillip Danault – Selected by Chicago Blackhawks round 1 #26 overall 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Danault was the Golden Child of this week’s camp.
He did everything well and really seemed to listen to new Player Development Coach Yanic Perreault, especially at the end of practices when Perreault ran drills for faceoffs. Danault brought a youthful enthusiasm to the ice, raising his arms and stick when he scored, even in drills (he’d also let out a little “w00t”). He has an effortless stride while he skates, useful in his 2-way style of play.
Danault has a track record of leadership, as well. In Friday’s scrimmie, Luke Curadi hit him from behind into the boards. Upset, Danault looked for immediate retribution and found Viktor Svedberg – who could miss him at 6’9″? – and after several cross checks, the two dropped the mitts. Svedberg instantly leveraged him to the ice, but Danault showed he’s unafraid to stand up for himself. Teammates tend to respect that.
He showed an “active” stick, the defensive style of play favored by Blackhawkss’ head coach Joel Quenneville. Danault deflected several passes and shots over the course of the 5-day camp. His work ethic proved quite strong.
If there are any negatives to his game, muted as they may be, I would cite his passing and his strength on the puck. Each could use improvement. Neither will keep him from a promising career.
Stephen Johns – Selected by Chicago Blackhawks round 2 #60 overall 2010 NHL Entry Draft
The kid is as advertised. He doesn’t come off as a huge guy, but he’s got, it seems, 20% more mass than the next guy. It’s like someone scaled him in PhotoShop. He is strong, both physically and on his skates, and certainly led all prospects in hits. He can catch good skaters and lay them out near the boards.
The bad news: He’s old school. He’s got bully instincts. Imagine Steve Smith in today’s NHL.
The good news: He’s finishing up at Notre Dame this year. From a friend who is a huge ND backer, it looks as the school is trying to tamp his offensive urges. They are looking to develop his defensive game, which is quite formidable. His skating is good for a player of his carriage, but there are moments of awkwardness.
Johns looks to hit first and track the puck later. This leads to numerous infractions. In one scrimmie, he went to hit the player who would logically receive the pass. The puck went elsewhere and Johns, in an NHL game, would have been called for interference. Adding insult to injury, the puck was now behind him, in deep, and he was well out of position.
Johns brings a below average shot from the point. Running drills where players shoot from the point, Johns was doing pushups Monday and Tuesday. On Thursday, during a scrimmie, he stepped up to the top of the faceoff dot and with a clear path, he missed the net. His future play would benefit more from his passing than attempts to generate goals.
After Notre Dame, he’ll need at least a year in Rockford to adapt to the Pro game. A second year is not unreasonable.
He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Johns
John Hayden – Selected by Chicago Blackhawks round 3 #74 overall 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Hayden is off to Yale University after 2 years on the U.S. National Development Team. He has good size (6’3″/210 lbs). He was absolutely impressive this week. The Blackhawks, using the pick from trading Michael Frolik, did well with this one.
Hayden ran drills with passion, tossing Carl Dahlstrom around during 1-on-1s. He had a nose for the net, benefitted by his use of his size. He had three goals during the three scrimmies, one of which occurred on the man advantage.
He played well in all three zones, too. His skating is fluid and he can create chances 1-on-1. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he was soon the leading scorer with the best plus/minus rating for the Bulldogs. Hayden even dropped the gloves against Sam Jardine, although what transpired was more wrestling than anything else.
His weakness is along the boards. He had trouble picking up the puck, especially in the corners. For example, he tried to pick the puck from below the goal line and swing to the right to center a pass. He was unable to control the puck well enough to generate a scoring chance. However, later in the game, with his back to the boards, he was able to saucer a pass over an opponent’s stick dead on Alex Broadhurst’s tape.
Carl Dahlstrom – Selected by Chicago Blackhawks round 2 #51 overall 2013 NHL Entry Draft
One of the players selected as a result of the Dave Bolland trade, Dahlstrom has good size (6’4″/211 lbs) and better positional instincts. He plays his lanes well and keeps his stick on the ice.
While his passing and skating can – and should – improve, he was able to reliably shutdown chances against. At one point, Mark McNeill tried to power around him to the outside. Dahlstrom would brook no shit and rode him out of the play.
It doesn’t seem that Dahlstrom has much offensive upside to his game.
Mark McNeill – Selected by Chicago Blackhawks round 1 #18 overall 2011 NHL Entry Draft
It’s encouraging to see that McNeill favors play in front of the net. He has been billed as a power forward and he needs to show a comfort zone being in the crease. He, perhaps, led all prospects in scoring chances as a result.
However, this week left me wondering what the Draft day hype was all about. Simply put, McNeill failed to impress.
He put a lot of effort into the basics of the position, namely backchecking and hitting. He has good hands, as well. What he lacks is a scoring touch or even an ability to finish. McNeill was unable to convert most opportunities, even in close. He played Friday with what seemed to be a high level of frustration.
An odd observation this week is that he has a propensity to get hit. The puck to the back of the leg on Monday aside, he collided with an opponent and was slow to get up Tuesday. Other times, in crowded lanes, he took the brunt of punishment.
His focus has been called into question from various sources prior to this week. I’m starting to wonder about it myself. I look forward to his upcoming season to see if this week is more of an aberration.
Viktor Svedberg – Undrafted
The tallest prospect in camp measured in at 6’9″/230 lbs. The first thing to notice about his play is that he can skate for having such a high center of gravity. He is neither swift nor fluid, but he doesn’t have a lot of extraneous movement to hinder or tire.
He tended to play closer to his own net, preferring a Stay-At-Home role. He showed good positioning for the most part, but still has extensive work to be reliable. One of his downfalls occurs at the blueline of the offensive zone. He tended to follow his man too deep and when the breakout started, he was helplessly out of position. He lacked the speed to chase smaller forwards.
He demonstrated good balance on his skates. However, in corner battles, even against smaller players, he rarely came out with the puck. When given the chance, he would lean on players, a technique Zdeno Chara utilizes well.
His passing was average as was his hitting. He was able to get his shot through from the point. As previously mentioned, he wasn’t afraid to drop and fight when forced.
Tyler Motte – Selected by Chicago Blackhawks round 4 #121 overall 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Motte has chosen to attend the University of Michigan (the Sarnia Sting own his OHL rights) next season. Red Berenson will get a fierce, albeit undersized (5’9″/190 lbs), competitor.
Motte was dogged in the faceoff circle, especially during Perreault’s drills. He showed speed and quickness. He isn’t necessarily agile on his skates, but he played up-tempo and seemed comfortable in the high-traffic lanes.
He scored the first goal of Friday’s scrimmie.
At 5’6″ a prospect has to show he can play (at 6’5″ a prospect has to prove he can’t). Louis showed no fear during the week. He is an obvious playmaker with a good scoring touch. In one instance, he took the puck from the corner straight to the goalie and scored. He seemed blessed to be able to ignore hits.
He played on a line with Hayden during the scrimmies and scored Friday. He can protect the puck well, even along the boards. If he wants a future as a center, he needs to work on faceoffs.
The reigning Mr. Irrelevant of the NHL, Press has played both forward and defense in Sweden. It looks like his future is on the blueline where he showed poise and patience. He had a propensity to wait until a player was open rather than clearing the puck. His previous play as a forward should prove valuable as he knew when to pinch, scoring a goal on Wednesday. He needs to work on his defense as he lost his man more than once.
Scored twice on Friday, each time as a result of 1-on-1 with the goalie. He has an exceptional deke move that leaves defensemen and goalies alike helpless. However, there’s more to the game than having a finishing move.
Good hockey sense and hockey IQ. At 6’1″/200 lbs, he used his size well.
Buckets of speed, but even at 5’10″/195 lbs, he needs more strength. He was bullied off the puck far too much.
The Worst Day of Camp Award:
On the ice for all 3 goals against Thursday, Jardine was a marked man. He couldn’t clear the puck and his skating looked poor. He got knocked off the puck. Everyone has a bad day in sports. Jardine’s happened in front of a large crowd late in the week.
Nepotism Isn’t Always The Best Thing:
Jake Chelios and Chris Calnan
The son of HHOF defenseman Chris Chelios and nephew of (future HHOF inductee) Jeremy Roenick, respectively, garnered column space from the media. This may be the last of it.
Chelios brings everything one would want in an undersized SAH defenseman; limited offense, an inability to check with malice, tentative aggression and a weak shot. Perhaps the slapshot is a recessive gene and skips a generation.
Calnan had a worse showing, cementing the legacy of hockey kingpin in the family for his uncle. The only time Calnan will wear the Indianhead with any meaning in the future is if he dressed up as J.R. for Halloween.
No Shows/Injured: Teuvo Teräväinen, Kevin Hayes, Antti Raanta, Ryan Hartman, Garret Ross (2 of the 3 srimmies)
If we missed anyone – and we chose not to write about a lot of prospects – the readers wanted information on, we apologize. Leave a post in the comments as I have lots of notes.
Thanks for the read.