Early Monday evening, the ice at the PNC Arena was occupied by several young players looking to learn and hoping to make an impression. The first ice session for the Carolina Hurricanes 2015 Prospect Development Camp was underway.
The players did not have to wait long for guidance. The on-ice coaching staff was comprised of none other than head coach Bill Peters, assistants Rod Brind'Amour and Steve Smith, goalie coach David Marcoux, as well as Glen Wesley and Cory Stillman, who are in charge of player development.
The group had an early 6 a.m. start and they participated in activities which included physical training in the morning and nutritional instruction in the afternoon. But the full day did not keep the on-ice session from being spirited.
One thing that was very noticeable this year was the overall size of the skaters in black, (defense) jerseys. Haydn Fleury, (6'3), Noah Hanifin, (6'3), Jaccob Slavin, (6'2) Tyler Ganly, (6'2), and Josh Wesley, (6'3) were not easily pushed around out there.
Another physical presence, Brett Pesce, (6'3) was injured and did not skate.
Slavin stood out to me during this practice because of his slick puck handling and when the session was over, Bill Peters mentioned the same thing to the media.
"Haydn Fleury looks bigger and stronger," said the head coach. "I was really impressed with Jaccob Slavin and Wesley had good feet."
Slavin recently signed an entry-level deal with the Canes, meaning that he was cutting his college career short. I asked him about that decision after practice.
"It was definitely a tough decision. CC is a great school and it was a great place for me. They have a tremendous coaching staff as well, so yes it was a tough decision for me. But this is what I feel was best for my development so I had to make this decision."
Slavin will be heading to training camp this fall looking for a job, like many others in the room. He has a good attitude about it.
"I will come to camp and then will see what happens. Whatever God has in store for me, I'll take it from there."
Regarding some other players, of course a lot of focus was on Hanifin and his skating didn't disappoint.
A few other notes:
The Canes have some interesting invitees. Check out number 81, Dante Salituro, who showed off some sick moves as he scored a few times. How did this guy not get drafted with 37 goals and 41 assists last year for the Ottawa 67's?
There is another local attendee this season to keep an eye on. Trevor Owens, a defenseman who is going to school at Northeastern, is wearing the number 84.
Sergey Tolchinsky, a one time free agent invitee who earned a contract with the Canes a couple of camps ago, still has a scorer's touch. He finished out the final mini-scrimmage with a goal after which he celebrated with both arms straight up.
Erik Karlsson had a good practice and made some sweet passes along with a nifty backhanded move for a goal.
Obviously, there were others who looked very good as well.
Tuesday will be another day, with other standouts. If you have some spare time at 5:30, you should come to the rink and check them out.