This morning I was able to take in the Nashville Predators first day of training camp on the ice (and snap a picture of Shea Weber blasting pucks from the point). After some issues with the ice at Centennial Sportsplex, the session was moved to Bridgestone Arena shortly before the first group of players took the ice at 9:30 am.
I thought I would jot down a few of my observations before I give a more detailed report on the camp–as a whole–later on.
–Viktor Stalberg is a big guy and uses his size pretty well. I don’t want to proclaim him to be the power-forward the Preds have always lacked (because there are a lot of other NHL forwards that are more built than he is), but he is a step in the right direction.
–Stalberg displayed the hardest and most accurate wrist shot in the group (with Matt Cullen finishing second).
–For someone who underwent stabilization-surgery on both shoulders this summer, Colin Wilson participated in all the team drills and looked a lot like the player who was performing so well last season. If Nashville is going to be successful this coming campaign, they will need Wilson to be one of their best forwards.
–Hutton looks small(ish) in goal when you compare him to Pekka Rinne, but he did a good job of blocking the puck and controlling rebounds (although he did struggle with tracking the puck through traffic today).
–Magnus Hellberg was on the other end of the ice so it was easy to compare the two leading candidates for the backup job. Head coach Barry Trotz has already proclaimed Hutton to be the No. 2 netminder, but some think Hellberg has a lot more upside than Hutton. Today, Hutton looked a lot more polished than Hellberg and I think he is the right choice to be the No. 2 guy–at least for now.
–After about a 20-minute warm up period, the players (half wearing white and the other half blue) competed in a 3-on-3 drill that focused on puck possession and positioning in front of the goal. Kevin Henderson was the best player in this drill, scoring a goal and holding on to the puck in very tight spots. Ryan Ellis also did a great job getting off one-timers on net and through traffic.
–Shea Weber’s team (the blue squad) lost the drill and as result was forced to do push-ups. And yes, he’s awesome and those too.
Check back for a more detailed list of my thoughts later on tonight. It was really great to see the players back on the ice today. The season is close!