Hurricanes fans and media got their first look at Andrei Svechnikov and this year’s crop of draft picks on the ice at Wednesday evening’s development camp session at PNC Arena. I went over to check things out, and while it’s obviously tough to glean much from the first night of prospect camp, there were a few standouts from the scrimmage.
- Andrei Svechnikov was a man among boys. He made a few good passes and weaves through traffic that had the crowd oohing and ahhing, but what stood out to me most was his pro ready frame, how effective he was winning puck battles (few of those along the boards in a friendly setting, but he won them nonetheless) and his ability to shield the puck from defenders. Svechnikov definitely has the size and strength to step right into an NHL lineup.
- Martin Necas looks bigger; he’s definitely put on some muscle in the past year. His skating is very smooth, and he has the strength and skill to work his way into position for open shots from the slot. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour spoke after practice about immediately noticing a difference in Necas’ confidence level and physical maturity. This kid looks ready.
- Necas and Svechnikov played together in the scrimmage, and there seemed to be some instant chemistry between them as they fed off each other during the scrimmage. That’s a pairing I would not be surprised to see for the big club next year.
- Jake Bean is definitely a more confident player. His skating and offensive abilities remain strong, but he also looked better defending against rushes in the early drills, and broke up several plays defensively during the scrimmage. Bean will probably spend next year in Charlotte, but his development seems to be on track.
- In the “physical standouts” category, Morgan Geekie also looked dominant with the puck on his stick shielding it from defenders and in one on one battles. Geekie had a huge WHL playoff for the Tri-City Americans with 27 points in 14 games, and may be another mid-round gem for the Canes if he continues his surge.
- Goalies are probably the toughest position to get a read on in this setting, but I was impressed with Jack LaFontaine’s lateral movement and puck-tracking during the scrimmage.
- There was a good crowd on hand to watch the practice, as Canes fans came out to get a first look at Svechnikov on PNC Arena ice.
Development camp continues Thursday with two skill sessions, one for veterans at 9:45 a.m., one for rookies at 10:45, and another evening session starting at 5:30.