This morning marked Day 2 of on-ice activities from Centennial Sportsplex for the 2017 Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. After getting first impressions out of the way yesterday today’s skate marked a better look from the group as jitters, rust, and familiarity all start to get worked out.
Yet, before the practice today went into full swing, a big talking point of the morning was seeing Kevin Fiala back on the ice and participating in lots of skating and shooting drills. To put it bluntly: it is shocking that he broke his femur two months ago and is where he is in his rehabilitation process.
I often say hockey players are made of rubber and magic. Fiala simply has to be made of pure magic. I would have thought an injury that serve would have meant losing a Summer worth of physical fitness and preparation for a hockey season, starting the 2017-18 season in Milwaukee until his legs are well and truly back under him and his conditioning is set, and he could be in the boat he was in like last season. After seeing him skate today I don’t think he is losing all that much and should be ready for the Predators to start the season. How? I will never know. But I think he won’t miss a beat.
Today’s practice for camp was a little different than Day 1. A few players were here, there, off, and done. Most though grouped all together rather than working as Team White or Team Gold which will compete at the Future Stars Game held at the Bridgestone Arena this Friday night. Today everyone blended together and did a few line drills.
The two defense pairings that I hoped I would see form this week did get a run out today: Samuel Girard–Alex Carrier and David Farrance–Jack Dougherty. Both looked great, gelled well, and I’m getting the feeling Farrence could be one of the better picks of that 2017 Predators draft class down the road. He’s very slick and his skating ability is really good.
I have to give a tip of the cap to two of the smaller forwards in this week. Ryan Hughes has a really wicked shot. He is a 17-year old invitee from the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL who scored 57 points (27 goals, 30 assists) in 70 games last season. For looking ahead into the future for the Predators he could be someone you see back in the mix in the years ahead. Tyler Kelleher once again really impressed me today. It is like watching a different player than the one that showed up to Milwaukee at the end of the 2016-17 season. He’s quick with everything he has been doing on the ice these last two days, accurate passing and shot, and smooth skating. I admit to not being impressed when he showed up initially. I am now and I’m looking forward to seeing this type of form trickle into the AHL this season. I have to imagine it was frantic for Kelleher being thrust from college to his first pro contract being signed and then instantly making his pro debut without really acclimatizing to the AHL. He looks much more confident.
Unlike yesterday, I feel like today’s interviews were a little hit and miss as far as finding the right people to chat with. Some actually had left by the time media availability had come. Neigh bother. We’ll find Joonas Lyytinen aka International Man of Mystery before this week ends. Today we spoke with: Victor Ejdsell, Tyler Moy (who wore the gold helmet today), and Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Scott Ford.
Which prospect are you most excited to potentially see in Milwaukee or Nashville? Of the invitees are there certain players you feel could contribute in the organization next season? And are there certain players involved in this camp right now who you feel could challenge for an NHL opportunity out of pre-season camp?
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