Hurricanes Conditioning Camp: First Impressions

Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind`Amour sets up the next drill to forward prospects (from left) Brody Sutter, Mattias Lindstrom, Barclay Goodrow (invitee), Gregory Hofmann (65), Victor Rask (49) with Chad LaRose visible behind (white helmet) via Jamie Kellner

UPDATED as of Tuesday 11pm:  Canes Country's Guide to 2011 Conditioning Camp with new photos from Jamie Kellner. 

 

Big. Big. and Bigger. 

That's my first impression after watching 12 entirely new skaters and goalies take the ice at Wake Forest's Polar Ice House late Sunday afternoon. There was a lot more mass out there than last year when we met Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Justin Shugg, Kyle Lawson or the tall skinny lean frames of Austin Levi or Riley Nash

These are only glancing impressions of some very fit, talented and tired young men skating in front of a foursome of NHL veterans with 6 Stanley Cup rings, plus 3 Selkes, a Vezina and Calder, and 2 Hall of Fame inductions between them. And close to 200 enthusiastic Carolina hockey fans looking on from around the boards. 

So, after 70 minutes of watching them being put through their paces, I've got some notes of my observations after the jump to give you a feel of their first session and maybe suggest what I'm going to look for when I get back out there Tuesday and Wednesday.

I'll re-post the timeline of my tweets for those who weren't following because they were live and direct and then fill out what I wasn't able to convey in 140 characters or took a while to recognize.

Brindy and Barrasso 1st guys on the ice. Nice group of fans turned out. 200 maybe?

Rod Brind`Amour led the group out with the big pail of pucks. They started early, maybe 10 minutes before 5pm. Chad LaRose was also an added bonus, leading those early drills with his usual energy and grins.

An hour earlier, we had a couple tweets from the players:

Ryan Murphy (@RyanMurphy24), 3:37pm

Tough day so far, cant wait to crawl into bed and pass out

Torey Krug, the Dman invitee from Michigan State (@TKrug44), 3:54pm

Workout #2 on the day is done! Solid 5 mile bike sprint. Now to the rink for a skate. Excited to get on the ice with some great guys!

Though Tom Barrasso wasn't on the official list of camp coaches, with three young goalies on the ice, no one was surprised he was there and ready to get to work. He took them over to one end and immediately put them through some strenuous lateral movement drills, rotating them through one-on-one. This also including tracking his movements both laterally and forward and back, working on responsiveness on their skates. 

Here's a great image of Frederik Andersen with Barrasso later on. A big man, like I said.

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(Photo via Jamie Kellner)

 

Opening drills (footwork, passing puck, shooting, with no opposition)

1st impression: Some of these boys are huge. Ryan Murphy is not. But he is the most agile. Hofmann too.

I was of course most interested in first round pick Ryan Murphy, but Gregory Hofmann seems a pretty great 4th round pick, and I was curious to see what his play was like. He was elusive, fluid in his skating and very quick. Though he is tall, he is not nearly as solid as Brody Sutter, Mattias Lindstrom or even fellow '93s Victor Rask or Barclay Goodrow. More on Murphy further on.

A better look at Hofmann:

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Gregory Hofmann, who is Swiss, with a bearded Mattias Lindstrom,

from Sweden, in the background, via Jamie Kellner


Interesting thing that 3 out of 4 drafted forwards this week are European, with Brody Sutter the exception. Speaking of whom:

Brody Sutter has some decent hands.

Because he is so big and went undrafted in 2010, I was expecting Brody Sutter to be slower and not as skilled around the net. Crashing the net solo, he could pick his corners with a quick release, beating the goalie, just fine.

Again, like having 5 or 6 guys the size of Osala out there. Rask also looks sharp around net.

Rask showed great puck skills when working unchallenged. Also did well in some one-on-ones later vs Murphy.

Dman Mark Alt has whiffed 4 times on shots (seems tired). =D And Keegan Lowe hasn’t stopped smiling.

Alt may have been more tired than some of the others during those early drills. He is not someone who looks at his best with the puck on his stick. Keegan Lowe, son of Kevin, was the one who seemed least fazed by the setting. He and Ron Francis exchanged funny comments at one point about something or other.

Rutherford & Jason Karmanos are watching. The players do seem a bit tired.

GM Jim Rutherford that is, and his assistant.  A few media were there as well. The players skated as if their quads were aching. Badly.

Goalie Andersen is a bit like Pogge in size, posture. Very confident.

As the oldest player on the ice, Andersen was clearly the most relaxed of the 3 goaltenders. When you compare resumes it's pretty obvious why that might be. Relative to the time he had Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk bearing down on him in Bratislava in April, this was hardly an outing worth stressing over.

 

One-on-one rushes

Murphy just quick as could be stripped a puck off a Fwd w/just his stick and skating. Totally pwn’d.

I was really interested to see Murphy playing defense - what is he like when he doesn't have the puck? Well, with just a few chances to watch him, I'll say think of him as "ninja-like". Sorry if that's too childish sounding, but there's a quickness and efficiency of motion, and total focus to him while these outsized forwards skated in, that he was able to anticipate and somehow ended up with the puck without ever touching them. Jedi mind-powers maybe? Sorry if that sounds silly but the approach and results were consistent. I don't think I saw him take on LaRose who might have some extra tricks. Later on I saw more physicality from Murphy, but not in these early "north-south" drills.

Then Rosey blew by Lowe like a pylon 

LaRose just flew by him down the left boards and Lowe just looked around with a laugh, like: WTF - did you see that?

One on one drills and suddenly all their legs look lively. Competitive they are.

Murphy hasn’t been beat yet. Very focused, not a smiley type. Again, that’s Lowe (the smiley one).

 

 

Split into 2 groups: They split the  6 forwards (including LaRose) and the 4 defensemen into two groups at opposite goals. I stayed closer to the end with the D.

Now divided D and Fwds. Francis/Wesley w/D; Barasso/Brind`Amour w/Forwards..

More footwork and puck handling skills. Others can tell you what the Forwards were up to, but I wasn't close enough to watch both ends. Next time!

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From left, Francis, Lowe (kneeling), Murphy, Wesley, Krug and Alt (via Jamie Kellner)

 

Cross Ice sets of shifts Then they moved both nets and set them up cross ice and did some 1-on-1’s then 2-on-2’s. Barrasso had a stopwatch and whistled for them to rotate shifts every 30-40 seconds.

Standing as a group majority of these guys are bigger than Francis, Wesley.

Murphy just schooled Sutter. Rask gave Murphy more trouble on some cross ice 1on1s.

Things definitely got more physical at this point, skates set in with power moves to net, shouldering for possession. Murphy did his ninja thing to poor Sutter. In this setting it was apparent Lindstrom is a powerful skater and a competitive kid as he crashed the net on the 2-on-2's, would not be denied. They changed out pretty quickly and it wasn't easy to keep track of who was who - at least till I know their faces and skating better. You had to pick your spots.

 

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Here's a shot of Murphy and Rask. with Hoffman beyond  (via Jamie Kellner)

Finally, they wrapped up with a once-through Shoot-out: A lot of Jussi moves and other showboating, though it seemed a bit forced; they were out of steam. Goalies did well. Barrasso blew the final whistle at 6:00 on the dot.

Done . Those boys will sleep well tonight.

 

From the prospects themselves

@ryanmurphy24, 6:43pm

Great day today, off to a post practice meal, and lecture

@TKrug44, 8:49pm

Very tough day today, seems like 3 days ago I got my medical but that was this morning. Great turnout at the skate! You guys are #caniacs!!!

Brody Sutter (@Sutts19), 8:50pm

Tough day... 3 workouts and an ice time with 10 skaters. #exhausted #bedtime

Keegan Lowe (@klowe4), 8:56pm

Lonngggg day at camp. #exhausted #muchneededrest

Barclay Goodrow (@bgoodrow23), 9:16pm

Track workout at 7:30 am tomorrow, I bet its still gunna be over 80 degrees. #carolinaweather #H20

 

*       *       *       *       *

 

For more images from Jamie, here is the full Flickr set: 2011 Prospect Conditioning Camp.

Chip Alexander picked up some quotes here: Canes rookies meet their match in camp | newsobserver.com

And another very timely read: Carolina Hurricanes 2011 draft review - Cory Lavalette, Hockey's Future

Rutherford couldn't have been more pleased with the team's first three selections, plus felt the team filled some depth needs with Carolina's three other picks in St. Paul, Minn.

 

I'll be updating the Canes Country's Guide to 2011 Conditioning Camp today with pictures and other notes if you plan on heading up there this afternoon or the rest of the week. They'll be starting at 4:30pm the remaining three days. 

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