You can check out what Nate thought about Sunday's Scrimmage right here.
I was one of the 7500 (!!!) folks who sought out refuge in the Xcel Energy Center to take in the dog and pony show that is the Development Camp Scrimmage. Fast paced and intense hockey it is not, although there was more physicality and open ice hitting than in years previous. In a way its basically a shinny showcase for the fanbase, a method of putting names to players and in a way gaining some knowledge on how some of these players are progressing.
I was bummed to see that Mario Lucia couldn't make it, although taking Summer Classes at Notre Dame is a pretty viable excuse. Last year he was every bit the gangly and semi-timid High School Junior playing against players sometimes 4-5 years older, so I was anxious to see how, after a stellar season with Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League, how he played against the same guys he looked a tad meek against last year this time.
For the most part Nate has the usual suspects summed up pretty well- Brett Bulmer will push for a roster spot in the Fall, Jonas Brodin has amazing feet and even more amazing hockey sense, Charlie Coyle plays like a man, etc.
One player I really took an interest in was Daniel Gunnarson. The 20 year old Swede may just turn out to be a gem- while he's very much a bean pole out there, the kid can flat out skate for his size. He showed impressive ability to wheel the puck out of his zone and take it up ice, and use his mobility to be a fourth forward on the attack, but also have the ability to retreat. He very much reminded me of Brent Burns in that regard. He tended to rely quite a bit on his expansive reach to defend, but I didn't really see him get a chance to body up on an opponent either. One of the more noticeable players on the ice for me.
Nick Seeler is really shaping up to be a solid player- I touched on that a bit when I saw him in March, but he was pretty impressive Sunday. He makes good decisions, he moves the puck well, he battles hard in his own crease, and he even flattened a puck carrier in the open ice on one shift. He won't be a marquee guy, but maybe a guy you pair with a Brodin or a Dumba so they can freelance a bit.
Matt Dumba was pretty quiet for the most part, save the hits on Kris Foucault and Christoph Bertschy- I think his time table is probably a little farther off than most of us think. His reactionary edge work was a little iffy at times. His partner, Cody Corbett, was pretty good. I'm pretty familiar with Corbett, seeing him in the Fall Elite League before he went to Edmonton. He was close to dominant, but at a certain point began running around a bit trying to do too much. Sunday is what I think he needs to be in order to keep moving up the rungs; keep his game simple, move the puck up ice. He's got a big time shot, and can throw the body around, but for me he's got to keep it simple.
A few things really began to materialize watching the collective play- you began to see groups of players, like the picture is becoming clearer as to what Chuck Fletcher wants for a roster. You have high end skill guys like Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, and Matt Dumba of course- but there is a large contingent of guys who have the skill to play top-6 minutes, but have the grit to play on the 3rd line- Bulmer, Zucker, Larsson, Bussieres, etc. That sort of player, the "swing guys" so to speak, are a form of flexibility in themselves- if there's an injury, or a need to shake up the lines, you can bump up or bump down these kind of players without really taking them out of their games, or even the lineup.
With that sort of flexibilty, you aren't asking a pure top-6 or bust guy to be a grinder. Not only that, but the mixture of skill and grit that will permeate the lineup also creates secondary scoring- there isn't necessarily a huge drop off from the 2nd to 3rd line per se.
Not to forget these guys, but you have a some cache of players who look to be role guys- Louie Nanne, Tyler Graovac, Christoph Bertschy, etc. Players who have the things The Brass is looking for, its a matter of will they keep doing the things they need to in order to get there. Shots in the dark, if you will.
The defense will be mobile- Brodin, Seeler, Gunnarson, John Draeger (who will get there but is showing great improvement in the last 6 or so months), and Dumba are all guys who can skate- no oafy pylons for a team whose system is predicated on moving the puck up and attacking. Not only just moving the puck, but they are allowed to jump into the play as well, and with the mobility they'll be able to recover just as quickly. You can even look deeper and see how the pairings will shake out; you have Brodin, Dumba, and Gunnarson- all guys who can jump up into the play- and you look at Seeler and Draeger, who project to be more stay at home guys. Its a certain dichotomy- think how Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook mesh on the Chicago blueline.
The goaltending will shake itself out in terms of who emerges as the guy, but you see that Fletcher has bullets in the gun, hoping one will hit- Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, and Johan Gustafsson are nearer to the present, and Stephen Michalek will be given time to hone his craft at Harvard.
So while we can ooh and ahh at the Mikael Granlund shootout moves, or the Matt Dumba open ice hits on a Sunday afternoon, there is more than just watching these players play and showcase a bit for their future fanbase. You can see how Minnesota is shaping their cupboard by what they choose to put in it.