Day two of training camp wrapped up for the Nashville Predators on Sunday with a scrimmage at Centennial Sportsplex. As the day wore on, it became evident that there are more roster spots being contested at camp than originally anticipated.
Besides deciding who will back up Rinne, there is real competition at defense, despite the team already having 7 defensemen on one-way deals. At the position of forward, 14 players are on one-way deals and this does not include Colin Wilson, who undoubtedly has a roster spot guaranteed. While the top-six forwards for the Predators are set, young prospects are making it very difficult for the coaching staff to lock down an opening night roster come October. There is a real battle going on for a few spots on the third and fourth lines.
After two full days of training camp, head coach Barry Trotz says that all players have met his expectations and has good conditioning. He added, “it’s early. When I say that, I could name a couple names of guys who didn’t have their best game, but in terms of workload and planning and getting themselves prepared, I look at veterans different than a guy who is trying to make the team.” So if it was an off day and you’ve been on the team before, your effort might be overlooked. However, Sunday afternoon the veterans were in it for real, there were no slouches.
Newly named alternate captain, Ryan Suter was called for a penalty early in the scrimmage. He wasn’t required to sit in the box for two minutes. Instead, Matt Halischuk was able to take a penalty shot against Mark Dekanich (Dekanich stopped it). Suter actually spoke to the referee about the call. Ok, he had a smile on his face while doing it, but Suter’s effort and passion at even a scrimmage should be duly noted by his teammates. New Predator Matthew Lombardi seemed to fly on the ice and scored a couple nice goals along the way. And the list goes on and on of returning and new (but old to the NHL) players ready to get the season going in full gear.
While the veteran players came through in effort and results, after the first team scrimmage, which prospects left a positive impression with the coaching staff? Standouts at forward included Ryan Flynn, Halischuk, Ryan Thang and Brentwood’s own Blake Geoffrion. In Trotz eyes, they all “had solid days”, but the coach added a qualifying statement to his list of standouts, “It’s in the eye of the beholder, a little bit.”
On the back end, Trotz thought that Dekanich and Anders Lindback were the two strongest goalies at camp fighting for the available backup job. In terms of defense, Nashville’s highly touted prospects, who had participated in the scrimmage, left a positive impression. Trotz cited Jonathon Blum and Roman Josi as standouts. Josi left the scrimmage early and is out with an upper body injury. He will not be participating in on-ice activities Monday. Ryan Ellis did not scrimmage on Sunday. Ellis was in the group that practiced Sunday morning and will participate in his first scrimmage Monday afternoon.
Training camp continues today with the White team practicing this morning. The Silver and Blue teams will scrimmage this afternoon. The Blue team hasn’t scrimmaged yet and includes veterans Shea Weber, David Legwand, Joel Ward, Jordin Tootoo as well as prospects Ryan Ellis, Taylor Beck, and 2010 first round draft pick Austin Watson. All practices and scrimmages are open to the public and are free to attend. The morning practice is from 9:45-11:45 a.m. and the scrimmage is from 12:00-1:30 p.m.