I just returned from Centennial Sportsplex, where the Nashville Predators are holding their 2010-11 training camp. It was the first day that all players took to the ice for drills. What follows, then, are some of my observations, with the caveat that I'm not sure how much we can glean from day one.
Bullet points after the jump.
- The players that impressed me most were Ryan Ellis, Taylor Beck, Colin Wilson, Jonas Andersson, Chet Pickard, and Anders Lindback.
- Ellis is small, sure - but he is incredibly shifty. You could tell immediately that his shot is a cut above most of the other defensemen on the ice. Between his crisp passing and good skating, you can bet he'll get some ice time in the preseason. Its a real shame that he can't be sent to Milwaukee this year, because there's just nothing left to learn in Windsor.
- Jonas Andersson surprised me with his puck skills. Admittedly, I didn't know much about him in the first place, but I had the impression he was more of a grinder than a scorer. He put several slick goals past Mark Dekanich during Team Blue's session that led the crowd on hand to applaud.
- Colin Wilson, in my opinion, was the best player on the ice in any session. He was clearly having a lot of fun, and it showed. Wilson completed several impressive passes and consistently put the puck past Pekka Rinne or Jeremy Smith.
- Out of the five goalies that saw time today, Pekka Rinne was the standout. But you knew that. Mark Dekanich's reaction time seemed slow, and he had trouble stopping shots on a regular basis. Jeremy Smith didn't fare too poorly, though it was obvious he is still green. Chet Pickard had a great run of form in Team Blue's session, and at one point had stopped something like six straight shots on a bit of a breakaway drill. He played again in the next session, however, and appeared tired.
- For all the bad hype about Anders Lindback's faulty glove hand, I certainly didn't notice a major problem. Granted, it wasn't a game scenario, but skaters did not have an easy time putting pucks in the back of the net. That could be just because he fills up the entire net, but hey - we'll take it. I'm pegging the big Swede as your clubhouse leader to back up Pekka Rinne on opening night.
- And now, a few words on a couple of your new Nashville Predators - namely, Matthew Lombardi and Sergei Kostitsyn.
- Lombardi becomes the best skater on the team, and I don't think its close. He is mind-bogglingly fast.
- I didn't take many notes, but I'm guessing Lombardi "scored" the most goals today. He has an above average wrist shot that appeared to catch both goalies off guard.
- Kostitsyn, quite frankly, was terrible. I was eager to see his lauded offensive skill set, and came away unimpressed. His demeanor was poor and his effort worse. This won't fly in Barry Trotz's system, and I hope he turns it around.
- Free agent acquisition Aaron Johnson was a pleasant surprise on Team Blue. Johnson has a good point shot and decent speed. I wouldn't be shocked if he pushed Ryan Parent for the 6th defensive spot.
- At a certain point during each session, the players participated in a drill where a cone was placed at center ice which a defenseman had to skate around backwards while a forward rushed the net and attempted to score. Essentially, the forwards had a head start and the D were expected to catch up and prevent an opportunity. By far the most impressive defenseman? Ryan Suter. He completely dominated each forward he was pitched against.
- Wade Belak scored on a rocket of a shot from the blueline past Chet Pickard. It was weird.
- Somewhat unrelated: Ryan Suter and Steve Sullivan were officially named the Predators' two alternate captains today, which explains the coaching staff splitting up Weber, Suter, and Sullivan between the three groups.
- Did you attend camp today? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!