Submitted by Ken on July 31, 2006 - 22:58
This will wrap-up my final coverage of the prospects camp and probably any journalistic efforts for a while. I have to go back to work tomorrow. The Blue Birds are firng up and the kiidies will be back to school next week. Volleyball will be starting up shortly and I'll be knee deep in evalauating my own suspects... I mean prospects. Forwards are far more difficult to project than the others. We're deeply riveted by those that can fill the scoring line holes every team seems to crave. Also, despite needing outstanding skills, I think heart and passion for the game is more evident in NHL scorers. Many have gotten nowhere with an upper level skillset. But you rarely see an upper tier scorer without a special look in his eye.
I did not see one surefire thing last week. I saw two with skills & want to, three that will struggle with avoiding Tort's dog house. One missing a key skill but still having a chance to be productive, one at a crossroads, one only a checker at best, two longshots with minor league contracts and one vitual no show with questionable conditioning.
2 that want it:
Blair Jones - As Tony Dungy would say, he showed a high motor all week. He was aggreesive in being around the net when the puck was in the neighborhood. Nice size. Decent wheels. Possible penalty killer also. Ryan Craig type player.
Marek Kvapil - Not a sniper. Good in traffic despite his size. Knows where to be offensively. His line underperformed scoring wise, but he performed the best of the 3. Doesn't seem to have good vision of the ice when carrying the puck though.
One that wants it but is short a major skill:
Stanislav Lascek - His wrist and slap shots were in the bottom half of the campers. But late in the week he demonstarted why he is still a scorer. He seems to be somewhat like Lt. Dan... I mean Dino Ciccarelli, planting himself in front of the net and looking for garbage time. On the perimeter he's an excellent passer and with that reputation he will be able to throw a few home while the goalie anticipates moving across the crease with the pass he thinks is coming. Like a good basketball player he also follows his shot as well as his passes to the net. I was down on him early in the week. Now I see where the goals come from and I like it. I gained respect for his game.
3 who ought to tip toe around Tort's:
Radek Smolenak - Physically when I looked at him the first day, saw the name and knew about the numbers, I expected him to rule the ice. Until the last scrimmage, I never saw him loosen the seat belt nor take off the cruise control. The last day, he showed glimpses of Fedotenko. That may be a good comparable. He could be a streaky scorer in Ruslan's mold. Also keep in mind, he's still 19 til December.
Zbynek Hrdel - Tools wise he could be the cream of the crop, perhaps capable of 1st line duty. He did take off the seat belt and flip off the cruise the last 2 scrimmages and was perhaps the best forward those two days. Nice size, fast enough, with a good burst when he needs to get somewhere, he can shoot it and he can work along the boards. I like his upside, not so sure about his day-in-day-out motivation.
Chris Lawrence - Could be similar to Blair Jones, lacks the motor and the nose for the net. He didn't impress me on face-offs either. Still he could make it as a 2nd/3rd line scorer.
One at a crossroads:
Justin Keller - Could be a poor man's Brad Richards, which could make him a solid 2nd line type. Nice offensive skill set, good worker. Brad is much stronger. After looking good early in the week, Justin got pushed around and neutralized fairly easily later in the week. Must get some muscle on that frame, both upper and lower.
Dustin Collins - Nice frame, good skater, lunch pail guy. Did help line in ways that don't show on the scoresheet. Really is a character kid to root for having a breakout season in college this year. He maybe could have been a good defenseman with his skill set.
2 for the minors:
Maxime Boisclair - Scoring star in juniors and good be in the minors also. Lacks speed and grit. A lot to overcome to make it.
Ryan Gibbons - Moves well for a big guy. A decent pro year could net him a contract ahead of Collins. A solid checking line performer.
One who doesn't understand what conditioning is:
Marek Bartanus - Skated in warm-ups throughout the week, scratched because of a wrist injury we heard. Skated a three lap sprint and looked fairly good. Then 7 or 8 minutes later went back out and got smoked by guys who skated through two workouts a day instead of one and had just finished scrimmaging 20 minutes prior. He looked like he was skating in mud. What's up with that?
Nobody is a sure thing among this group. The good news is if you believe in quality out of quantity, we have 7 guys who could make the scoring lines.