Prospects Camp Insider - Day Three
| Head coach Alain Vigneault has said all along that one day won’t make or break anyone at rookie camp.
That’s a good thing for most of the 25 players who took to the ice Sunday at Bear Mountain – save for Jannik Hansen, who all but wrote his name onto the pre-season line-up sheet with another big day.
“He showed a lot of speed and a lot of good moves,” said Vigneault. “Hopefully he be able to do that when main camp starts next week.”
Hansen not only dominated drills in the early session – which included a spirited head-to-head battle with Alex Edler in a puck recovery exercise – but scored a goal in Team Blue’s 2-0 scrimmage victory.
“It’s been getting better by the day,” said Hansen. “I haven’t skated since I got here so the first day of camp was stiff with the new gear and everything. I’m starting to feel more comfortable as camp goes on.”
Hansen picked a puck at the blueline, burst down the right side and through defenceman Taylor Ellington before tucking a puck under Keyvan Hunt late in the scrimmage.
Vigneualt singled out Hansen in his post-practice interview and once again reiterated that the tenacious Dane has a shot at the opening night roster.
“If Jannik Hansen comes to main camp and does what he’s doing now, then we’re going to have to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a player here.’”
“I’ve said this a number of times: Talent has no age. If you’re talented and you’re ready to play, then it’s our job to put you out there and play you.”
Hansen says he’ll gladly accept a demotion to Manitoba as an opportunity to refine his game, but admits Vigneault’s willingness to hand a valuable roster spot to a deserving youngster - even if it means sitting a veteran - is added motivation.
“Of course if you have a chance to make the team, it’s like a carrot out there and it just makes you work that much harder in the practices, in dryland and on the bike.”
DRAWING THE LINE
With only one day before coaches shave the roster by a dozen skaters – give or take - prospects were scrapping for space in the spotlight.
While the desperation made for an offensively-charged scrimmage, few defenders managed to endear themselves to the coaching staff.
“No one really stood out… a lot of guys right now are sort of finding their way through and we’ll have to see how this unfolds,” said Vigneault.
The oft hyped battle between Luc Bourdon and Alex Edler took a back seat Sunday as both defenders struggled in the first five-on-five action of camp.
“[Bourdon] and Edler, and all the other guys we’ve got coming in that have some experience - we’ll get a better feel for where they are in the next couple of days as the competition gets better. This is mostly a chance for these guys to work the jitters out.”
After making a strong case for the perceived seventh spot at the end of the Canucks blueline early in prospects camp, Edler lacked his usual intensity on day three.
“If Alex Edler plays the way he did today, he’s going to be in Manitoba,” joked Vigneault, who re-iterated that play, and not reputation, will prevail come October.
“If Edler plays really well and is better than one of our veteran defenceman, then he put us in a situation where we have to make some choices. Our job is to win games and put the best team on the ice.”
The coach wasn’t about to divulge his plans for Monday cuts, but the lines were as tough to read between as most billboards.
When asked about 21-year-old dynamo Mason Raymond, Vigneault said he was as excited to see him against professional competition as anyone else.
With the mindset that prospects camp is as much about experience and working off a summer’s worth of rust, it’s safe to assume there won’t be any surprises tomorrow.
“We’re closing in on [the final cuts],” he said. “We’re going to meet later on with the coaches, and Scotty [Arniel] and Brad [Berry] there, and the scouts to narrow the list down, but we’re closing in on 10 to 15 guys that we’re going to bring to the next camp.”
Assuming all the big names advance, only a handful of spots remain for junior-eligible skaters and invitees like Ash Goldie and Garet Hunt – both of whom made statements Sunday. Goldie, the 26-year-old speedster who played last season in Long Beach, scored once and rang a second puck off the post behind Cory Schneider after a set-up from Pierre-Cedric Labrie.
Hunt, the former Vancouver Giant, finally began to showcase the kind of game that made him a fan favourite at the Pacifc Coliseum throwing the two biggest hits of camp to date on Dan Gendur and Shaun Heshka.
The scariest moment thus far came late in Sunday’s scrimmage when Raymond crossed the blueline at top speed after picking up a long outlet pass and veered through the slot. Heshka, a teammate last season in Manitoba, had Raymond in the tracks but let up at the last second avoiding a gruesome collision… A local reporter asked Vigneault about Ellington’s play after the Victoria-native was undressed by Hansen. Vigneault responded: “Edler got beat today, Bourdon got beat today - you’re going to get beat. Even Ray Bourque got beat sometimes on the ice; those are things that happen.”… One of the nicest plays of the day came from Bourdon who dug a loose puck out of skates and rushed the length of the ice before faking wide and dropping a backhand into the slot for a wide-open Raymond. Ellis made the pad save.
Training Camp 2007
13 - Cuts expected once Monday's session winds to a close
28 - Sweater number Luc Bourdon will wear into main camp as Aaron Miller has claimed his old #4.
0 - Times Alain Vigneault has made it through a media session at prospects camp without being asked about Mason Raymond.
22 - How old Raymond will turn on Friday, smack in the middle of his first pro training camp
"Anybody who is starting camp, who shows that they’ll be able to help the team, is going to get a chance. Contracts shouldn’t be an issue. But let’s be smart, obviously if the Twins get off to a slow start, we’re going to be patient” - Alain Vigneault on his equal opportunity philosophy
“I’m not as nervous anymore. I’ve been around for a couple of years so I know how it works and what they expects of the players, so it’s a little easier coming into camp this year.” – Jannik Hansen on the benefit of experience.