Prospect Development Camp Saturday Scrimmage: Team Green Thoughts and Musings

Nate and I were two of the roughly 3300 people who showed up for today's scrimmage; a crowd large enough that it warranted a couple extra sections of seating. And nearly every seat was filled in the allotted space too.

Its truly a testament to a couple of things:
- Minnesota Hockey fans who are willing to spend a couple hours of a Saturday morning in July inside a hockey arena watching a collection of 17-24 year olds play, some of whom may become stars in the NHL, and some of whom are there just trying to make a name for themselves and get their foot in the door.
- And Chuck Fletcher and his staff, for amassing the collection of talented prospects which warrants a crowd of 3300 coming out for a "showcase showdown", so to speak.
- Also, it should be mentioned that roughly an hour and a half inside near a sheet of ice was a welcome reprieve from the oppressive humidity on the other side of the double doors. Gross stuff.

To be honest I couldn't tell you the final score of the game (I believe it ended 5-5 after regulation) because it wasn't particularly a focus of mine, but the game was divided into two halves, 25 minutes a piece. The first 15 minutes was played 5 on 5, but the final 10 were 4 on 4. Then each player had a shootout attempt on the goalies for the 2nd half, which were Matt Hackett for Team Green and Darcy Kuemper for Team White.

Line Combinations:
Mikael Granlund-Johan Larsson-Jack Connolly (UMD)
JT Brown (UMD)-Zack Phillips-Kris Foucault
Carter Sandlak (Belleville, OHL)-Mike Kramer (Princeton, ECAC)-Taylor Peters (Portland, WHL)

Marco Scandella-Nick Seeler
Kyle Medvec-David Makowski (Denver U)
Josh Caron-Dylan Busenius (Medicine Hat, WHL)

Stephen Michalek
Matt Hackett

We decided to take sides; Nate took White, I took Green- and while I took in the game as a whole, I really did my best to focus in a few players I wanted to see but haven't; guys like Johan Larsson and Kyle Medvec, and of course Granlund. I

Here's what I jotted down.

Mikael Granlund:
Of course Saturday will be remembered for this shootout goal.

As he was waiting at Center Ice waiting to go, I turned to Nate and mentioned that this is what the people came for; and he didn't disappoint. Largest pop of the day. That being said, Granlund mentally is a step above everyone else I saw today. He'd have the puck and wait...wait...wait...and throw the puck into an open space in the zone where a teammate would be there to greet it, in lock step, for an opportunity. Just impressive vision and creativity. I didn't really get the impression he was playing to win, but he's a lot of fun to watch.

Johan Larsson:
I've heard about him from a lot of people- scouts, Mike Russo, etc. so this was my first chance to see him in person. He's a good solid player, but there wasn't anything notable about his game on the offensive side that would signal to me that Larsson will pile up the points. He had few shots, and made some decent passes, but largely he was effective at digging pucks out of corners, and doing little things that centers are supposed to do. Kind of disappointing, but it was just my first viewing so I didn't quite know what to expect- but he seems like more of a "glue" type of pivot.

Kyle Medvec:

A towering Oak tree out there- just a tall lanky kid. He's a fluid skater, but he isn't a wide based skater; its almost like he keeps his strides short and underneath him (Think "stack and tilt" to borrow golf terms) so there is a lack of power, especially skating lineally. He's got a hard shot from the point that he keeps low, and shows some nice mitts in the SO and in warm ups. That being said, he had a couple passes that were telegraphed and picked off. He's still intriguing because of his size and wingspan; he wasn't afraid to bust some asses in the corners, but I'd think he'll need to really add some sandpaper to be a really effective defensive D.

Nick Seeler:

I'm eager to watch Seeler again tomorrow, even though I'll be on White duty. He's a solid skater who played on the "top pairing" with Scandella, and the two seemed to play pretty well together. He showed some edge along the boards, but when he got the puck on his stick he was looking to start the transition, whether it was by looking for an outlet pass or skating it himself. I do think his offensive upside will be dependent on how he handles the pace at the USHL level; there were times where he got the puck at the O blueline, gave a head fake that froze the player covering him which allowed him to move the puck to an open player. That being said, there were times where he rushed a pass to get rid of the puck like it was a grenade.

Marco Scandella:

Like I mentioned, he was pairied with Seeler, and he was impressive. Maybe its because he's got a year of pro experience under his belt (and some ATO time with Houston the year before that), but he was so calm, so poised, and damn good. I'd like to see him move his feet a bit more because he tends to glide a bit, but in my opinion he is capable of replacing the 35-40 points a year we lost when we traded Brent Burns- I think he's the same type of player offensively. Burns wasn't a Lidstrom or a Doughty where they orchestrate- he got his goals from rushes, pinches, and vulturing rebounds, and I see alot of that in Scandella. Plus the kid has great size, a frame that can add more weight, and the range and wingspan to be every bit as effective in a matchup role.

Kris Foucault:

This is the third time I've seen Foucault live, and he is just one of the maddening players. In 2009 he was the best player on the ice, and last year he looked pedestrian and disinterested...which carried over into the first 10 minutes today where he looked like he was just going through the motions.
Then something clicked, because he was a force every single shift afterwards. He's a sleek skater, aggressive on the puck, and has great hands; capable of finesse passes and ripping lasers at the net. He was, for my money, the most impressive player of the game, because he was just making things happen; stealing pucks, backchecking, making plays. In 09 after he was drafted I was told by a scout that Foucault could be a real sleeper, a steal of the Draft- and at times he looks like it, and there are times like the first 10 minutes of the scrimmage.
If, and I mean if, he can get it through his head that he has to give it all night in and night out, this kid can really be a player, because he's got the tools to be effective.

Zack Phillips:

Displayed the same vision and play making skills as Granlund, and he'll make his living around the net. Scored one from the door step in the 1st period. His skating is a bit weird; its not so much a stride, but its almost like he hops forward. I'm not overly concerned, given the training techniques at his disposal (and he is aware of it, which is half the battle), but he certainly showed that he's got the offensive potential to be a top-6 guy.

Overall, on paper, I thought Green was the more talented of the two teams, especially in the forwards. Never really paid much attention to some of the invitees or the goalies (Michelek struggled a bit, but Green in general did in the 1st) so if you want a specific player you want me to, shoot me a tweet (@firstroundbust) and I'll give my uneducated opinion.

Nate will be giving his assessment of White at some point today, and then we'll be switching beats for tomorrow.


  1. You forgot to mention the MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER ON THE ICE.

  2. Why the hell Granlund wasnt playing as center?

  3. How bout Connolly? He's my boy

  4. I thought Connolly showed some flash, and at times showed some nice chemistry with Granlund. More noticeable than Fontaine.

    As far as Granlund and playing Center, I think he and Larsson were interchangeable; going forward Granlund is better off on the wing because there will be less responsibility for him defensively (playing down low, support, etc.) as a wing than as a center.

  5. Granlund is more valueable as a center. He is better when he do not lead rushes and is in the second wave where he can give puck to everywhere basicly. It'ss a mistake to not play him as a center. Also the guy is supposed to be 2nd center in 12/13 with Wild.