Development Camp Day 1
The Nashville Predators annual Development Camp officially opened this week, as 31 prospects from around the globe streamed into the Music City. The Preds use their annual development camp as a way to gauge the progress, both on and off the ice, of each player, while helping to educate the players on trends in the game, physical fitness, life skills and nutrition.
The 2013 Development Camp began on Monday as the players went through a series of physical fitness tests with the Preds staff, followed by their player physicals at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
The real test of the prospects abilities began on Tuesday morning with off-ice workouts and the first on-ice session of the week. Tuesday’s on-ice sessions were led by Nashville’s new director of player development Scott Nichol and skating coach Shawn Allard and focused on improving skating techniques and conditioning.
Highlighting this year’s camp are members of the both the 2012 and 2013 Draft classes, as 17 of the 31 prospects were selected during those Entry Drafts.
The first group of the day included this year’s first-round pick, Seth Jones. Even with the drills concentrated on skating work, it was easy to see why Jones was such a highly touted prospect this year. Also working in the first group were forwards Pontus Aberg (second round, 2012), Chase Balisy (sixth round, 2010), Felix Girard (fourth round, 2013), Josh Shalla (fourth round, 2011). Defenseman Anthony Bitetto (sixth round, 2010) and goaltender Magnus Hellberg (second round, 2011) also joined the early morning session.
Tuesday’s second group was highlighted by three forwards from the 2012 Entry Draft, including Filip Forsberg (first round), Max Gortz (sixth round) and Colton Sissons (second round). The 2012 forwards were joined by 2011 second rounder Miikka Salomaki and one of this year’s sixth-round picks, Tommy Veilleux. Camp invitees Joe Pendenza from UMass-Lowell and Brentwood’s own Sebastien Geoffrion rounded out the forward corps. Boston University’s Garrett Noonan (fourth round, 2011), Charles-Olivier Roussel (second round, 2009) and 2013 fifth-round selection Teemu Kivilhalme formed the second defensive group, while goaltender Marek Mazanec (sixth round, 2012), fresh off the Czech Extraliga championship, backstopped the second group.
The day’s final grouping continued to showcase the strong forward classes selected in 2012 and 2013, including Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey (fourth round, 2012), Sweden’s Emil Pettersson (sixth round, 2013) and Wade Murphy (seventh round, 2013). The third grouping also included some of the Preds larger prospects with 6-3, 220-pound forward Zach Budish (second round, 2010); 6-3, 193-pound forward Austin Watson (first round, 2010); 6-4, 200-pound forward invitee Ludwig Karlsson; 6-4, 198-pound defenseman Simon Fernholm (sixth round, 2012) and 6-2, 222-pound defenseman Mikko Vainonen (fourth round, 2012). The final group was rounded out by both of the goaltenders selected in this year’s Entry Draft – Juuse Saros (fourth round) and Janne Juvonen (seventh round).
Absent from today’s skate were 2012 draftees Brendan Leipsic (third round) and Zach Stepan (fourth round). Leipsic is coming off a career year for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, as he finished tied for the league’s scoring title. Stepan, who played for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League last season, is headed to Minnesota State University in the fall for his freshman season.
From a fan’s perspective, today seemed like a relatively slow day on the ice, but the intensity of the on-ice sessions will only continue to grow between now and Saturday. The on-ice sessions on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday will be open to the public and begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. The players will not skate on Thursday because of the annual prospect community relations day that afternoon.