Prospects Camp Insider - Day One
| Unlike the other races at camp, one doesn’t need tea leaves to divine the Canucks’ plans for goaltending this season: lean on Roberto Luongo, then lean some more.
So where does that leave 2004 first-round pick Cory Schneider? Well, in a pretty good spot if you ask him.
“I’m just trying to stay above water right now,” said Schneider, who spent most of Friday morning working with goaltending consultant Ian Clark and fellow keepers Julien Ellis and Keyvan Hunt. “I’m not concerned about stealing the starting job from him. I’m more concerned with just developing and doing it the right way and not rushing the process… so when it is time to make that jump I’m ready.”
Schneider’s spent the past three seasons stocking his closet full of hardware at the collegiate level with Boston College, including a few All-American nods, an MVP award, and a spot with the US National Junior team.
Even with that experience, the transition to professional hockey is a high step to climb.
“You have to be ready a split second quicker because these guys can do stuff in smaller amounts of space with less time, and get the puck off much quicker. You have to read it and be set much more quickly than you do in college.”
“There was some good and some bad today. Some shots went in that probably shouldn’t have, but you’re not trying to set the worlds on fire in your first day. It’s a learning process, and just talking with Ian [Clark], it’s going to take some time.”
Clark says he like what he sees in the 6’2”. 195-pound Massachusetts native, but says there’s plenty of room for Schneider to refine his game at the professional level.
“Certainly he’s an exceptional goaltender who’s had success at every level, so coming into this pro environment, we are going to have patience with him as he adapts to the increased pace.”
“He is a very well-rounded goaltender. But he can increase his quickness, his hand and foot speed, and I think he needs to improve his rebound control.”
With a pair solid keepers vying for ice time in Winnipeg, Schneider isn’t taking it for granted that he'll be able to fine tune in the AHL this season.
“It’s up to the guys upstairs and they haven’t said anything to me yet. It’s an open battle as far as I’m concerned. You’ve got Julien Ellis is here and he looks good, and from everything I’ve heard about Drew Macintyre, he’s a good goalie so, I don’t think anything’s set in stone at this point.”
Remember the shock and bewilderment when Dave Nonis called out Mason Raymond’s name with the 51st overall pick in 2005?
He was an overage teenager with nothing but Alberta Junior “A” experience on his resume. Well, nobody’s scratching their head now.
Granted it’s only day one, and Manitoba head coach Scott Arniel spent most of Friday morning simply directing 25 youngsters through drills and laps with a sharp whistle, but if anyone caught the coach’s eye, it was Raymond.
“For me, it was just the first time I had seen him,” said head coach Alain Vigneault, who took in the proceedings from a private box along with Nonis and Steve Tambellini. “Obviously you can see the quickness and the speed, and the motor skills of his hands and feet the way they work together.”
Raymond snuck a few tricky pucks behind the keepers, but really impressed with his speed. He spent most of the conditioning laps leading the rest of the white sweaters around the sheet, and was electric in brief three-on-three drills.
“Obviously I want to put the puck in the net - that’s my main role - but there’s room for everything everywhere and I want to contribute any way I can.”
If there’s a dark horse forward to make the squad out of rookie camp, it’s Raymond. At 6’0”, 170-pounds, he slight, but he can smell the net from two blocks away and the wind at his back.
“I hope I can [make the team], that’s what I coming here for – to work my butt off and do what I can to get into a Vancouver jersey.”
Chad Brownlee, a 6’2”, 185-pound defenceman who spent last season at Minnesota State, had a good morning picking the corner in shooting drills. Not noted usually noted for scoring (Brownlee went 34 games without scoring a goal in 2006-07) the Kelowna native showed serious offensive acumen on day one… 2006 first-round pick Michael Grabner hasn’t lost any speed despite packing a few pounds of obvious muscle on his 6’0” frame over the summer. Number 40 looked like the Austrian Bure in morning skates... Most unexpected move of the day? All 6'2", 215-pound of Pierre-Cedric Labrie tip-toeing around the defence and snapping a puck high on Ellis in 3-on-3 drills.
Training Camp 2007
13 - Players Alain Vigneault plans to carry into main camp
38 - Combined games of NHL experience on the ice in Victoria Friday
2 - Times Cory Schneider has attended training camp at Bear Mountain (his first with the US National Junior team in 2006).
7 - Quebec-born players on the rookie camp roster
"I Don’t have time today, but I know my whole crew got one in yesterday and they’re getting another one in today. I hoping that down the road I’ll be able to catch a golf game or two” - Alain Vigneault lamenting his busy schedule on a sunny Friday afternoon
“Pucks are going to go in and you’re going to learn and take your lumps, but overall it was good conditioning and good to get things over with.” – Cory Schneider on coping with first-day jitters