The waning moments of the last public practice of the Nashville Predators Development Camp featured a shootout competition between the Blue and Gray squads. Hometown hero Blake Geoffrion (of nearby Brentwood, TN) closed out the festivities with a nifty backhand roof shot after the goaltenders stoned a number of shooters, in front of an energetic crowd at Nashville's Centennial Sportsplex.
After the jump you'll find the video presentation summarizing today's events, and a recap on some of the great hockey conversation that was had. I brought my newspaper, thinking that there would be lulls in the action during which I could do some reading, but I never had the chance to open the darned thing. Nashville's hockey fans are ready for September to be here, and excited about a youth movement that appears to be underway.
So who was there? Well, from the blogging side of things, just about everybody. There were Buddy & Jackson from Preds on the Glass, Jeremy & Codey from Section303.com, Paul & Brandon from Hockeybuzz, Paul Nicholson (well known around Nashville on Twitter, but also stretching the blog muscles occasionally at Geek Thoughts), and I think I saw Rachel from What the Puck, but didn't get the chance to stop by and say hi. I also got the chance to meet Jim Diamond of the Nashville Predators Examiner, who wrote a great piece recently on Nick Oliver, the 4th-round pick who played for his father on a state-championship high school team.
There were also a host of fans who I know best from all the conversation on Twitter (where you can find me at @Forechecker), like George Scoville (@stackiii), who played such a prominent role in organizing the Nashville NHL Tweetup on the first night of the playoffs, and is moving to Washington D.C. in the fall. We, as a Predators fan base, fully expect George to make us proud when the Preds make a road trip to play the Capitals this upcoming season by giving us a YouTube-worthy moment (actually that was a guy I used to work with, I'm in the back of that video in the Swedish national jersey).
Then you had Mike Barnes, the amateur videographer who posted another couple segments of video from today's session. At the tail end I even got to have a great conversation with TV play-by-play man Pete Weber, a walking encyclopedia of hockey history that every Preds fan should take the opportunity to meet when they have the chance. Pete agreed with me that the exciting thing about the youth movement taking place this season is that the younger players are only being expected to come in to fill roles on the 3rd and 4th lines up front, and on the 3rd pair on defense. Last fall, you had Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Jones on the 1st and 2nd lines, and that's just too much to ask of kids facing their first NHL campaign. This time around, they'll have a bit more seasoning, and the expectations should be more appropriate.
So many questions swirl around the roster that will come out of training camp this fall, and instead of the last two seasons which saw first a salary purge and then a defection, there's genuine anticipation and an upbeat atmosphere about what the future holds for Nashville. Here are just a few of the questions which had tongues wagging:
- Can't we just declare Joel Ward the 2nd-line winger, go with a "kid line" as the 3rd, using the money free up to sign a defenseman?
- What are Chet Pickard's prospects for stepping in at Milwaukee and earning the #1 job ahead of Mark Dekanich? In the event of injury, might Pickard be the guy called up to Nashville as a backup?
- Who's going to center the 3rd line coming out of training camp? Cal O'Reilly, Mike Santorelli, or Colin Wilson?
- Could the Preds actually go with 3 rookies on the blueline?
- How freaking big will Zach Budish (6'3", 229 lb at 18 years old) get?
- Is Nick Spaling ready to step up to the NHL level?
- Where are all these goalies going to fit? Hint: Jeremy Smith, who stood out this morning, may go back for one more year with the OHL's or possibly the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones.
- How rough will the schedule be, considering the two-week Olympic break that gets wedged into the same overall timetable? We'll find out more on Wednesday when the 2009-10 Regular Season schedule gets released.
You can debate all these questions and more over the coming weeks, we've certainly got some time to fill until training camp opens in September!