Prospect Camp Observations - Day 3

By Mike Gallimore

The third day of camp opened Thursday with goalies-only instruction followed by a mixture of power skating sessions, passing and shooting drills, which I saw the bulk of but could not stay to see in their entirety.

Following are just a few takeaways from watching Day 3's on-ice action:

Brief Impressions

Austin Czarnik (pictured), a forward invitee, shows plenty of burst and skill with the puck but (and, of course, this isn't an indictment) he's tiny. TINY. It'll be interesting to see if he's got the grit and peskiness of Cory Conacher, last year's camp darling, to compliment the strong offensive talents, most notably an extremely quick release which launches a consistently hard and accurate wrist shot. He's worth keeping an eye on, especially as a teammate of fellow high-grade forward prospect Jimmy Mullin at Miami.

Invitee D Garret Clarke, in terms of stature and build, bears a strong resemblance to prospect D Kiril Gotovets. At one point, both were side-by-side in a corner during a drill and it was not easy, by any means, to distinguish them. The few minutes I focused on Clarke were during a repetitious and routine passing and shooting drill. Aside from his poise, he was one of the most consistent in executing each attempt. What truly stuck out about him was how heavy his wrist/snap shot was. His is an interesting, if checkered, past. Once highly-touted juniors prospect who backed out of a verbal commitment to play college hockey with North Dakota, he has bounced around teams ever since and was at the center of one of the more bizarre junior hockey scenarios a couple years ago.

I've heard plenty of pucks hit the glass at the Ice Sports Forum over the years but invitee D Andrej Sjustr, who I've already written about to some extent, rifled a snap shot high over the net that made a distinct and startling smacking sound that gave the impression he had cracked panel of glass it struck. It was funny, of course, to see a couple unsuspecting attendees duck in reaction. I have yet to see Sjustr wind up and really try to crank one, but I'm now extremely eager to see what kind of zip he can get on his slap shot. If Sjustr can generate plus velocity, it would really add some fuel to the early comparisons to Zdeno Chara.

(Eric DuBose photo)