Development Camp: Day 2

(Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)

This morning’s on-ice activities for Nashville Predators Development Camp were split into two sessions. The first group out focused on the defensemen in camp. That would be followed by all the forwards. This all taking place following a grueling 7AM track session at Vanderbilt University.

Today I focused less on who immediately jumps out and more towards further talent that is or could trickle into Milwaukee. There is a decent amount of that here and, if not, options for the very near future. Mostly though I was impressed by the efforts in net today.

What I saw this afternoon made me feel that bit more excited about potential goaltending work by the likes of Niclas Westerholm and Miroslav Svoboda. Both look the part but the size and presence of Westerholm in net looks like a happy medium between Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. Of course, not a talent comparison or projection there – but the confidence and flashes of lateral movement looked similar. Svoboda isn’t that far off what I see in Westerholm, either. Both move quite well and position themselves square to shooters tightly. It’s most likely Troy Grosenick‘s job to be “the man” in Milwaukee next season but the battle behind him, one that builds beyond next season as both Westerholm and Svoboda are on entry-level contracts past 2018-19, should be worth following from Training Camp -who earns that back up role- and throughout the season.

That said. I can’t talk goaltenders without name dropping Tomáš Vomáčka. I think the Nashville Predators might have found a gem in last year’s draft with Vomáčka. I was pleasantly surprised by how sharp he was at last year’s Development Camp. Now, after a full season in the USHL with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays, he looks even better. He’s set to begin his collegiate career with UCONN this Fall and I’m thinking his progressions there will be worth watching. Should he take off and do well? Should he sign on with the Predators and work the pipeline? I think his personality alone is going to win over fans. He’s a fun one but has the ability in front of that upbeat character.

Yesterday I rounded up a good few Milwaukee Admirals on Day 1. I specifically told one Yakov Trenin that I’d give him the day off. Today? Not so much. I followed a lot of his on-ice work this afternoon in the forward group session. I don’t mean for this to come across as negative -but- he looked about the same as any practice I would have watched him work in Milwaukee last season. He didn’t look overly flashy or to be hustling towards an extra gear of any kind. But, of what he was doing, he was more or less good.

What I did appreciate from Trenin was his interview. There has been a lot of speculation about him and his future in North America. Oddly, the initial KHL gossip started the day the Milwaukee Admirals took their 2017-18 team photo. If any shred of that were true I don’t know why on Earth he would be here this week. What I am seeing from him, and he communicates it, is a bit more urgency to work hard and be a leader. I feel he may have put too much pressure on himself to put up offensive numbers a season ago and, as it didn’t happen, snowballed pressure and rattled his confidence. These players are human, right? Sometimes a humbling experience such as that acts as a much better learning process for the times ahead than a measuring stick of just who and what the player is capable of. For Trenin, we should all get a better idea as to who he is as the 2018-19 season moves forward and how he either learns from what last season was or shows that last season was every season.

And, in “Potentially Fun News” news, it seems Trenin will be on a line with Tyler Moy and Eeli Tolvanen come the Future Stars Game. If that holds true I think fans will be in for a show Friday night. The link up play between Trenin and Moy was great today and that followed Moy and Tolvanen looking sharp as a tandem in drills yesterday. Moy is having a good camp. His vision and passing ability are really good. Similar to Trenin I am hopeful that Moy is able to take what he learned last season and expand on it for the better. Both have the ability to do so. With Moy I’m confident he has the motor to push for a solid season in Milwaukee.

Lastly, I took scope of some of the players on the roster and wanted to speak with someone Admirals fans could see by the end of the 2018-19 season: defenseman Jacob Paquette. The first thing you notice about Paquette, apart from looking a bit like Zach Budish, is his size. He is 6’3″ and I would say he plays bigger than that. This coming season is Paquette’s last in major juniors having spent the first three-season with the Kingston Frontenacs. His 2017-18 season was fantastic and it feels there is even more to grow in his game. Offense might be the area that he will need to expand on, as a Nashville-style defenseman has to, but it feels the defense-first area of his game already clicks. I’m curious how this next season goes for him and if he ends up as one of those late season arrivals for the Admirals.

Today’s interviews featured many of the above mentioned: Paquette, Vomáčka, Trenin, and Westerholm. I also had the chance to drop in on a scrum with Nashville Predators Director of Amateur Scouting Jeff Kealty. These were today’s interviews from Day 2 of Nashville Predators Development Camp at Centennial Sportsplex.

Day 2 done. Day 3 features no on-ice activities but sees the group get out and about in the Nashville community. I will be having a tourist day tomorrow in downtown Nashville but will be back with Day 4 coverage ahead of the Future Stars Game on Friday night.

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