Minnesota Prospect Camp Saturday Scrimmage: Team White Thoughts

If you haven't done so already, check out Dan's thoughts on Team Green. It was great to see so many fans excited about seeing some hockey and the future; even if they were only there for one (i.e. the man in front of me did not know who drafted Mario Lucia). It's a testament to the great hockey fans in St. Paul and the State of Hockey. Green

Team White Line Combinations:
Jason Zucker - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine
Mario Lucia - David McIntyre - Dylan Willick (Kamaloops [WHL])
Nathan Burns (Vancouver [WHL]) - Joel Broda - Kyle Thomas (Norwich [ECAC DIII])

Jonas Brodin - Chay Genoway
Colton Jobke - Kris Fredheim
Derik Johnson - Sam Lofquist (Guelph [OHL])

Johan Gustafsson
Darcy Kuemper

Although Green ended up winning in the shootout (the game was tied 5-5 but would have gone to a shootout regardless - this is for fun), both sides played well. White didn't have the stars or depth but they made up with chemistry. My thoughts:

Jason Zucker: After years of prospects not developing, it's great to see a player adapt and continue to grow. With a Denver team full of playmakers, Zucker has used his breakaway speed (the real breakaway speed, not Havlat breakaway speed) to make for an opportunistic player. Unlike an Alexander Ovechkin who just floats and cherry picks, Zucker was able to nicely pick his spots; he scored when a defenseman pinched too early and stepped into the lane. Zucker was also willing to throw his body around which made for an interesting series of events later on where Jason checked a man into the boards, turned around and saw himself on a breakaway during a 4x4 session. A sniper in every sense of the word, it's hard not to gush over Zucker's play today.

Charlie Coyle: Minnesota's newest toy (acquired in the Brent Burns trade), Coyle was one of two palyers who I was interested in seeing the most (the other being Mikael Granlund). Coyle had instant chemistry with Jason Zucker and linemate Justin Fontaine, setting each up on multiple occasions, while having some great hands. A power forward, Charlie was all over the ice with his body (he easily outmuscled Green players off the puck) and early on he covered for a defenseman out of position and went down to block a shot. The only negative I have was that he didn't shoot enough to get a good opinion, but being placed with players like Jason Zucker make it easier to be a playmaker.

Mario Lucia: The youngest player at development camp, Lucia looks the part. At times he showed the potential that many believe Mario has. He had great awareness throughout the scrimmage, good skating and put himself in position to score multiple times. That finally paid off when Mario sniped a shot from the top of the left circle for the most impressive non-shootout goal. However, Lucia's tall and skinny frame was also on display as at times he was outmuscled by older players and the high-risk high-reward plays which worked in HS did not today. With time to develop and get stronger, he will only get better.

Jonas Brodin: Much like Nick Schultz, Brodin is a player who needs to be focused on to see his true strengths. If you aren't paying attention, it's easy to forget about Jonas because gets by him. The kid's hockey IQ and sense is off the charts as at times he would be one or two steps ahead of the play.



Brodin also employed some breakout skills and was able to spring his forwards open in a way which makes me want to see him on the opening day roster. It's very Kim Johnsson-like. He didn't do too much offensively, which was fine given his partner, but did have a good slapshot on target during the latter part of the scrimmage. It wasn't as hard as a Kurtis Foster blast but not as soft as one might think; with some muscle added on over the next year or two, Brodin will add some power and become even better.

Chay Genoway: After a horrible first shift where Genoway gave away an easy opportunity, Chay settled down and became an excellent complement to Brodin. While Brodin is more defensive in nature, Chay is more likely to pinch and look to create offense; Genoway was able to take advantage of a loose puck and put one by Stephan Michalek. A similar player at North Dakota for five seasons, Chay reminded me a little of Jared Spurgeon last season. Whether or not Genoway joins him on the Wild remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that the organization has one more defenseman to add to their depth.

Justin Fontaine: It was tough to see at times whether or not Fontaine was being propped up by his two linemates (Zucker and Coyle) or holding his own. Justin was noticeable during the first part of the scrimmage and had a couple great opportunities but didn't impress me as much as he did during UMD's run to the national title. That was apparent during the 4x4 portion where he was teamed up with Mario Lucia. There were moments of brilliance from the sure handed Fontaine but was too inconsistent for my liking and didn't feel like the PPG player I expected.

David McIntyre: The recipient in the Maxim Noreau trade, McIntyre was a pleasant surprise. Overshadowed by the big names and saddled on a line with a free agent and 17 year-old, McIntyre took charge. Like Coyle, he created opportunities for his linemates (especially Lucia) and was a beast on the forecheck. That latter was great to see because the Wild normally struggle at creating pressure and David thrived; at one point he instituted an odd-man opportunity with a takeaway from Kyle Medvec. I'm not sure how much of his success came from being an adult playing against kids but if this is any indication Houston has another good body up front.

Sam Lofquist: After watching Sam for a year-plus at the University of Minnesota, I was wondering how his time in Guelph would improve his game. It appears that time was used wisely as Lofquist is a much better skater and more confident with his body (it helped that he filled out and is 205 lbs) than during his days as a 17 year-old freshman in the WCHA. Sam also had some great puck movement which created opportunities; however he was inconsistent and wasn't able to make up for bad positioning on occasion. That nearly cost the team a couple goals.

Johan Gustafsson: Along with McIntyre, Gustafsson was the surprise of the White team. Throughout the first half (yes this was played with two 25 minute halves) he had great positioning, didn't give up rebounds and really made a Green forward corps featuring two first round picks and a second work hard for a goal. Usually left out the "Hackett or Kuemper" conversation, Gustafsson shows why the Wild have been so successful with developing and signing goalies.

Darcy Kuemper: For as good as Johan Gustafsson was during the first half, Kuemper was the opposite. While he didn't get the help needed sometimes (the Jobke-Fredheim pairing was abysmal), it felt like Kuemper gave up after a soft goal on his first shot. There was just no sense of urgency and lazy passes and positioning were abundant. Kuemper also had issues in the shootout where essentially the entire Green team was able to time when he would go down and score top-shelf glove-side (it made Niklas Backstrom look good in shootouts). Everyone has a bad game so hopefully Kuemper can bounce back tomorrow.

Obviously that's not everyone so if are curious about anyone left off the list tweet me (@gopherstate) or ask in the comments and I'll throw in my two cents.

2 comments:

  1. The Willick shootout goal was a beauty ....2nd only to Granlund's.
    He also undressed the goalie on a penalty shot and rang one off the post.
    Impressive effort.

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  2. It really was. Unfortunately I couldn't find it online like Granlund's but hopefully one comes up.

    ReplyDelete