Thursday, September 15, 2011
Rookie Camp - Day 4
END OF DAY REPORT:
So as it turned out, there was no "scrimmage" per se today, with 4 days of rookie camp culminating in some 3 on 3 Red vs. White rushes at one end of the ice, with shooting and passing drills at the other.
Only 6 players had red jerseys on, including Aaron Palushaj, Dustin Walsh, Ben Winnett, and Olivier Dame-Malka, indicating that they stayed on the "scrimmage" half of the rink the entire time, while the white jersey'ed players switched back and forth from rushes to drills.
Since there was no actual game, we don't have too detailed a report, but here are some observations on a few of the players I most clearly noticed.
Alexander Avtsin: On day 1, I compared him to a young Alex Kovalev. He looked that way again, displaying sick hands, with two particular plays within a couple of minute span that saw him take a breakaway on the drill side against Peter Delmas and bury it after a quick pump fake, then switch ends to the 3-on-3 side and carry the puck around the entire defending team before again deking the goalie. I really hope this kid makes it, because there is no middle ground. He has elite talent, so he'll either be an offensive star, or the weaknesses in his game (defensive play, soft, intensity...) will keep him out of the NHL. Big boom or bust prospect. Canadiens.com has a great piece on Avtsin up today where it sounds like he is adapting well and fitting in on this side of the pond.
That should calm the fears held by many of him bolting back to Russia.
Michael Bournival: I did make a bit of an error on Bournival on day 1. It wasn't the fact that I raved about him, because of that he is deserving. It was that I said he looked small. I think it just comes from the way he plays, however. A low to the ice style, very intense, hunting the puck. Because he didn't look small at all today. Seems like a can't miss NHL'er - it won't be his size holding him back. The question is whether he can be an offensive player at the pro level, or if he's more of a Maxim Lapierre forechecker type.
Brendan Gallagher: Another reason why 1 scrimmage scouting reports are insufficient. Wow is this guy talented but tiny. I said on day 1 that he had Chris Higgins-itis, unable to cash on a number of great chances, but today he showed the best hands of any prospect down low around the net on some drills. Should be a huge year for the little man, and first I look forward to seeing him line up against older and bigger competition in preseason.
Peter Delmas: I got a request to talk a bit about the goaltenders, but Delmas is the only one worth my time. There is certainly potential there, particularly in a quick glove hand that has made several highlight-reel worthy grabs over the course of the week. At 6'2", he's a big enough guy to command a presence in goal, and he also seems like a great teammate, often joking around with the others. Definitely the best of the three in camp, and it's not even close.
Aaron Palushaj: I was hard on him on Monday, criticizing his apparent lack of effort, but he stepped it up a notch on Rookie Camp's final day, looking like the veteran he should be. He certainly knew it had been a tough week for him because after he buried a goal for team red in the three on three game, he celebrated a little too loudly, as if out of relief. Still, I don't see more than a third liner out of him at the NHL level, and has very little chance of challenging for a roster spot in Montreal out of the gate.
Unfortunately, that's about all we got today. Again, didn't much like the forward try-outs, though Philip DeSimone would be my pick as the best of the bunch. The Canadiens announced that everyone who participated in the Rookie Camp, including all try-outs, would be invited to the big camp for a total of 64 players.
1:51 PM - Goaltender Robert Mayer is injured. As a result, tryout Robin Gusse will be invited as a 6th goaltender to Habs main camp tomorrow, says M.A. Godin.
1:20 PM - Andrei Markov took the ice on his own this afternoon, skating "gingerly" per Abe Hefter. Certainly not a good sign, but again, our questions won't be answered till after tomorrow's physicals at the earliest.
P.K. Subban skated with the veterans this morning, easing any concern over his sore back.
Reminder - We'll have live Tweets of the scrimmage at 5:00 PM today, and then a recap summary with our thoughts on a number of players posted here when it's all over.
Thursday, we turn the page on the golf tournament and shift focus back to the Montreal Canadiens' young prospects for the final day of the team's Rookie Camp. With the club's training camp set to open tomorrow, this could be a final chance for some of the young players to stand out amongst their peers.
Through the first two scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday, each of Team White and Team Red managed one win. Team White looked dominant on Monday, outplaying the Reds by a much greater margin than the 3-2 score, while Red exacted revenge Tuesday with a 4-0 blowout.
Combining the three days thus far, the main standouts seem to be CHL prospects Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival, outshining even first round selections Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu and established AHL'ers like Aaron Palushaj and Brendon Nash.
As all week, we will provide you with reports and updates as we get them! Today, that should include the official Training Camp roster list, but don't expect too many surprises there. The majority of Rookie Camp attendees will be on the list.