Greetings from Nashville, everybody. Today was the first day of on-ice activities at the Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. There was much to take in from the practice sessions at the Centennial Sportsplex. Faces that we’ve all seen before. Faces that we will be getting more familiar with later this year. As well as some faces that should arrive in Milwaukee in due time.
~Development Camp Roster~
Let’s start by tacking who is all here this week because names in attendance aren’t just limited to Nashville Predators property.
Forwards: Kris Bennett, Kevin Fiala, Patrick Harper, Vladislav Kamenev, Justin Kirkland, Vinni Lettieri, Tyler Moy, Tommy Novak, Rem Pitlick, Anthony Richard, Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, Zach Stepan, and Zach Walker
Defensemen: Frédéric Allard, Alexandre Carrier, Teddy Doherty, Jack Dougherty, Dante Fabbro, Samuel Girard, Hardy Häman Aktell, Josh Healey, Teemu Kivihalme, Trevor Murphy, Mitch Reinke, Andrew Sinard, and Adam Smith
Invitees to this week’s camp in Nashville included: Bennett (Saginaw), Lettieri (University of Minnesota), Boudreau (Chicoutimi), Walker (US NTDP), Doherty (Admirals), Healey (Ohio State), Reinke (Cedar Rapids), Sinard (TPH Thunder), Sawchenko (Moosejaw), Visentin (Rockford).
There were two players listed as injured for today’s practice: Allard and Visentin. I did see Visentin working practice drills for a good while, though. I did not see much or Murphy on-ice while practice went on. There are two separate rinks at the Centennial Sportsplex. I don’t think my timing could have been that unfortunate to have missed him practice as I flipped between the two. So, I’m not sure if he picked up a knock during the skate.
The entire coaching staff of the Milwaukee Admirals is in attendance for this week. That means Dean Evason, Stan Drulia, Scott Ford, and David Rook are all testing the young crop of kids out just as you may have ever watched a practice run at the MSOE Kern Center.
I was incredibly impressed by what I saw out of Gunnarsson who is the potential second choice goalie in Milwaukee. His lateral movements were quick. He had a quick read on shots. And, even for a practice session, there wasn’t much getting through him. I figured his role for next season was going to Janne Juvonen. The 21-year old Finnish goaltender was a seventh round pick of the Predators in the 2013 NHL Draft and he attended the final games of the regular season and playoffs here in Milwaukee. Gunnarsson not only took that spot but Juvonen went from being on the preliminary development camp roster to just not being here.
One of the biggest talents heading to Milwaukee at the start of the season will be a 19-year old winger by the name of Kirkland. Elite Prospects lists him as standing at 6-3. He looks even bigger than that. I was impressed for someone of his size to move as well as he does. His shot looked sharp. He has a quick release, as well. With how successful the Kelowna Rockets were last season he had missed out on getting introduced to the pro experience like a few others on ATO contracts would have. He’ll be coming in completely fresh to the pro scene, and Milwaukee for that matter, but I think he’ll do just fine.
If you’ve read my work closely this off-season you might have noticed how timid I am when it comes to the right-handed shooting defenseman Dougherty. I have no shame in admitting that was simply because I didn’t know if he was coming back to Milwaukee for the 2016-17 season. Having spoken with him this afternoon, huzzah, I can confirm he will be in Milwaukee. This will mark the fourth different team and the fourth different league for Dougherty in the last four years. Can you blame my timidness? The great news is that he not only showed up at the end of the season in Milwaukee he already made his pro debut, logged 3 games of work, earned his first career pro point (an assist), and is familiar with his surroundings. That should make stepping into the 2016-17 season a little less stressful for Dougherty. The only real stresser will come in how often people such as myself, or the equipment managers, botch the two defenseman coming to town: Dougherty and Doherty.
When Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile addressed the media earlier today he made mention of an absentee from this week’s camp: Yakov Trenin. Unfortunately the Russian forward suffered a broken leg as a result of a mountain biking accident last week. He needed to have an operation to mend the break and is expected to be out of action for the next four months while recovering. Trenin will be arriving to Nashville in a month’s time for evaluation and is due to return to the Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) once the season begins.
There were plenty of people to chat with. I suspect I will be getting to as many different players or coaches as I can in the week that I am here in Nashville. That being said, I had to go right for the familiars on my Nashville debut. It was fun seeing a lot of these guys and actually felt like it has been ages since the season ended. All players featured today should be back in Milwaukee this season. Interviewed today were: Poile, Saros, Doherty, Dougherty, Fiala, and Kirkland. Here is what they had to say after practice.
For anyone due to catch practices this week at the Centennial Sportsplex or the scrimmage game on Saturday at the Ford Ice Center – I would be more than happy to meet up with you Nashville fans this week. I’ll be there or looking to be a total tourist from the end of practice to, well, the next practice. Hope to see you while I’m in town.
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