Sunday, July 11, 2010

"We're living in the future and none of this has happened yet."

I spent most of this past Saturday at the Lightning's prospect camp. They had a similar event last year, giving those of us die hard enough to be at the arena at 8:30 in the morning on a weekend a chance to get our first glimpse at their latest draft picks and promising players in the minor league system. Yes, 8:30 am. Luckily, the boys were late getting on the ice since I was running late myself.

The morning was largely devoted to their off ice physical testing and some on ice skating drills. The first session wrapped up around 11 and I took off with some of my friends for lunch in Brandon with several large margaritas. Between those and riding on the Crosstown Expressway in a convertible Mustang, life was definitely good.

The afternoon session proved to be a lot more high energy with a lot of puck handling and shooting drills. The forwards and defensemen were definitely putting the goalies through their paces and in some cases making some pretty spectacular saves. I saw a few of these guys in last year's prospect camp and it really is impressive seeing how their games have grown in just the space of a year. Ashton Carter in particular seems to have filled his frame out a bit and had some really good moves. I think we will be seeing Dana Tyrell at camp, if not getting a shot at making the team in the near future.

Most eyes were on the Bolts' first round, fourth overall pick Brett Connolly. There were a lot of critical statements following the team's choice with their top pick, and it's not completely unfounded. He lost most of last season with hip injuries, so it could be seen as a bit of a crap shoot. I have to say, I am looking forward to seeing what the kid can do. Especially after seeing his work in the shooting drills. You can tell when someone has the scoring touch, and I was very impressed with his ability even in such an informal setting.

As a culmination of camp, the Lightning are hosting a scrimmage for the prospects on Wednesday night as well as a skills competition. I'll be there with camera in hand. It might be July and it might feel like 100 + degrees outside, but there is ice in the arena and shots on goal. I missed you, hockey.

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