Here are some things I noticed during my time in Brossard for the Habs' development camp on Thursday and Friday. Feel free to ask questions and/or discuss my observations. For others who were there, I'm especially interested in hearing your opinion. The first section includes my observations for each player that stood out. The second section includes some distinctions for the best (and worst) players.
26 - Anas: Crappy name (no pun intended). However, he was anything but crappy in the scrimmages, as he made nice plays at both ends of the ice. He was intense both on the forecheck and the backcheck, and showed some decent skill.
58 - Andrighetto: He picked up right where he left off last year. Looks like a veteran out there. He was great in the Thursday scrimmage. He’s an awesome skater who protects the puck very well and gains the zone easily. Great shooter, but he also found his linemates with precise passes.
48 - Audette: Weirdly, he had some trouble with stickhandling drills. Yet, in the Thursday scrimmage, he looked a lot like Hudon out there. He obviously has a lot of skill. He has the whole package: skating, hands, shot, and puck protection. He controlled the play really well and fed his wingers. In the Friday scrimmage, he brought more of the same with great control of the play and intense forechecking/backchecking.
34 - De La Rose: Great skating, great hands. Impressive shot with a great release and a lot of power. He was dominant in the Thursday scrimmage with Sekac. He was protecting the puck very well, he was a torpedo on the forecheck, and he was making solid defensive plays. He also showed good creativity offensively, which is a great sign. On Friday, he was less dominant, but didn't play a bad game overall.
47 - Gregoire: Didn’t really stand out during the drills. However, he was great during the Thursday scrimmage. He was skating very well, he was wiring shots, and he was making great passes. He really excels in the cycle game along the boards and can take the puck to the net. Overall, he really redeemed himself in the Thursday scrim. He was less visible in the Friday scrim.
75 - Hudon: He seems to be in the upper tier of prospects for sure. He was dynamic in the Thursday scrimmage, making great plays all over the ice with his great skating and awesome hands, as well as an accurate shot with a good release. He has great vision and controls the play. His skills package is complimented by a great intensity level and work ethic. He may be closer to the NHL than many people realize.
25 - McCarron: I was really impressed by his shot. He scored a lot of goals on Hawkey and Fucale during drills. Not the quickest release, but he seems to know how to use his wrist shot to good effect. Really picks open spots. His skating seems fine, and his hands are pretty good as well. He got a bit lost in the harder stickhandling drills, but he was fine for most of them overall. During the Thursday scrim, he wasn’t a game-changer, but he was effective on the forecheck and played well defensively. He did score a nice goal on a rebound. Placed it top corner very quickly, so I guess he can get rid of the puck in a hurry when he needs to. On Friday, he wasn’t very impressive. He wasn’t carrying his line like Hudon, Sekac, etc. and he didn’t create any major scoring chances.
63 - Padakin: Good shot. Didn’t really stand out in the drills. However, he was very solid in the Thursday scrimmage. He hounded the puck carrier on the forecheck, made some nice zone entries with his skating and puck protection skills, and let off some good shots and passes. He played a good game Friday as well, making a nice pass to Szmatula for a goal.
28 - Scherbak: He has a great shot: it's powerful and accurate with a quick release. Good hands, but seemed hesitant during drills and scrimmages. I guess he just doesn’t want to screw up, so he’s keeping it simple. Don’t think he skated in the scrim on Thursday, however he did skate on Friday and was a bit underwhelming. I wouldn't be worried, as he just got drafted a few weeks ago and he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders as a brand new member of the organization.
57 - Sekac: Very impressive shot. Very heavy with a quick release. No trouble with stickhandling. He was absolutely dominant in the Thursday scrimmage. He just wowed me every shift. He protected the puck like nobody else, controlled the play in all zones, and made beautiful passes. He was solid defensively, often helped out his defensemen, and moved the puck out of his zone and up the ice. On Thursday, and to a lesser extent on Friday, he carried his line and looked like a possession monster. If he keeps this up, I think he’s the best candidate for that RW spot on the Habs’ roster. To put things into perspective, he deked Hudon hard with a nice toe drag, and Hudon was one of the best two-way players and one of the most NHL-ready guys at camp. He followed that deke up by maintaining control of the puck as the 217 lb McNally literally bounced off him. Sekac is ready for The Show.
78 - Szmatula: He didn't really stand out in the drills, but he was great in the scrimmages. He is a dynamic puckhandler and intense forechecker. It seemed that something happened offensively every time he was on the ice. He scored a nice goal in the Friday scrimmage with a quick, accurate snapshot.
60 - Thomas: Good shot with a very quick release. Good hands. He was very effective in the scrim, getting good chances with his quick shot and relentless puck pursuit. Good speed and acceleration, and goes to the net. On Friday, his line was absolutely dominant. He and Holland were the best players on the ice. They found each other very easily with passes and controlled the play when they were on the ice. They also lit up the score sheet. I could see a breakout AHL season from Thomas this year.
6- Agosta: Didn’t really notice him in the drills, but I really did notice him in the Thursday scrim. He would’ve had a goal if it wasn’t disallowed for goalie interference. He constantly moved up in the offensive zone and got open. He’s a big boy, but he’s skilled and skates well. He also has a hard shot.
46 - Bennett: Didn’t really notice him during drills. He was very mobile and effective in both scrimmages. He found ways to get shots through from the point and passes through to forwards on the breakout. He looked very solid at both ends of the ice. He was solid physically, and he used his great mobility and puckhandling to get the puck out of his zone effectively. On one shift, he delivered a solid check on McCarron, who had the puck, and took the puck away from him. He also made some great heads-up plays in the offensive zone. He seemed equally apt to start the rush with a good breakout pass or directly support the rush and create offensive opportunities. Overall, I was quite impressed with his complete game and skill level. I think he could have third-pairing potential.
91 - Curcuruto: No trouble with puck handling drills. He did them all-out at high speed. In-game, he seems to have trouble in his own zone but is an offensive dynamo. He has a bullet shot and scored with it top corner in the Thursday scrimmage. The magnificence of his clapper is rivaled only by that of his chin. The guy has an absolutely massive chin. He was better defensively in the Friday scrim, where he made good decisions and moved the puck up the ice well. He was also finding his teammates with precise passes, including a few nice shot-passes.
72 - Didier: Good hands. No standout skills, but definitely not out of place. Moves very well for a big guy. I get the impression he’ll be a decent AHL defenseman after university. He scored on Friday on a good play where he was coming down from the point, took a good shot, and banged in his own rebound. He also had another goal off a deflected one-timer. Definitely an intriguing prospect.
61 - Koberstein: He didn’t seem to have any trouble with puckhandling drills. He did them all smoothly and at high speed. Also, he was creative and effective in both zones in the Thursday scrim. Very effective passer. Similar profile to Bennett. He was solid in the Friday scrim as well with Bennett.
43 - Lernout: He had some trouble with puckhandling drills. However, he was solid all-around in the scrim. Not much offensive zone presence though. Friday scrim was more of the same, although I noticed he was moving the puck out of his zone better. The weird thing is, though: he didn't look more impressive than Koberstein.
20 - Muto: He stood out in both scrimmages as a good puck-moving D. He made solid passes and often entered the zone himself with the help of some slick dekes. He seemed to have good instincts both offensively and defensively, and made some key plays. He did make a few mistakes, but nothing critical. His shot seemed fine, but it didn't stand out.
Biggest surprise: Audette
Biggest disappointment: McCarron (and not being able to see Lehkonen)
Most NHL-ready (apart from Beaulieu): Sekac
Best invited player: Padakin
First All-Camp Team (Beaulieu excepted)
De La Rose – Hudon – Sekac
Bennett – Ellis
Second All-Camp Team
Andrighetto* – Audette – Thomas
Koberstein* – Didier
*Player not at his natural position, but included because of shortage of talent at that position
Szmatula – Anas – Padakin
Curcuruto – Muto