Prospect Camp: Day 1

Brief Introduction

I’ve had a desire to provide honest content for Blues fans for a long time. In fact, long ago, I was a part time contributor for Jeffio’s Game Night Review. He bought me an intermission beer when I was 18 on the roof of the parking lot of the Kiel Savvis Scottrade Ameritrade Center. Good times.

Back then, in order to smoke, the ushers stamped your hand. Being in high school/first year of college, we could not afford season tickets. So we bought the identical stamps from a company on Papin Street. $15 season tickets.

Since those days, I have been fortunate to be able to buy my own tickets. I’ve been through the same roller coaster as the rest of you – and I regret nothing. I am full of optimism and can’t wait for October 4th, 2017.

My name is Ben, and I am a Blues fan.

Without further ado, I’d like to start the first of 4 daily monologues describing my impressions of the Blues Prospect Camp which started Wednesday, June 28th.

The Experience

First off, it is free. If you can get away from whatever occupies you from 1pm-4pm come on down. Prospect camp takes place each day under the same schedule until its final day, Saturday, July 1st.

The seating was full, a good crowd was there, but it was not packed to the point of discomfort. That being said, if the first day was full, you may want to show up on time as the week goes on.

I wanted to start a Let’s Go Blues – maybe Friday or Saturday I’ll be that guy. In fact, I can promise that will happen.

Starting at 1:00, goaltenders came on the ice and worked on positioning. STL’s new goaltending coach, David Alexander, was on the ice.

Around 1:45, half of the prospects, 1 of the two “teams”, came on the ice and went through roughly 45 minutes worth of drills. Today, Team MacInnis took part. That included the following players:

Forwards: Tanner Kaspick, Nikolaj Krag-Christensen, Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou, Kyle MacLean, Greg Meireles, Austin Poganski, Tage Thompson

Defense: Charles Edourdo D’Astous, Mike Davies, David Noel, Jake Walman

When drills finished, the ice was resurfaced and all prospects came out. A 4v4 scrimmage was followed by a 3v3 scrimmage. At around 3:45 the event ended.

Unfortunately, as Andy Strickland later updated, Klim Kostin is not fully cleared and will not participate in scrimmages, but did participate in all drills without limitation.

Observations

The new coaching staff was in the bleachers. Mike Yeo was sitting between Craig Berube and Darryl Sydor. I did not see Steve Ott, although he could have been there. At least 10 other gentlemen were in attendance in professional capacity.

Bobby Plager signed autographs while the ice was resurfaced.

Jax was on the ice. It was cool to see him working through drills with skaters.

I got a pretzel in the mall since I missed lunch. Tasty.

The drills are very enjoyable: They are fast paced, and at many times groups of prospects rotated stations, and you could compare the results from the entire group on the same exercise as they rotated throughout.

Scrimmage is full contact and there was a small bit of solid physical play.

My Impressions on players

Klim Kostin is the real deal. Srsly.

About 15 minutes into drills Klim lasers one from the top of the circle, high glove, no chance, and the only people who didn’t say “oooooooh” were the people picking their jaws off the floor. Then, when he had the next rotation of the same drill, he does it again. No screen, no chance. I would call him Vova-lite but he is a big dude.

Klim looks like an NHL-er in physical makeup. I had (irrationally) high expectations, and I feel they were exceeded.

Robert Thomas is an amazing skater. I think he had the smoothest stride of anybody on the ice. I distinctly remember watching him skate out the first time and thinking “who is that?” before I saw the number and name. He isn’t incredibly fast but he’s deceptively fast; the strides seem so easy. During the scrimmage he had solid positioning and was directing players and play often.

Jake Walman was very solid. Great stick handling and great skating. I’m not sure how I feel yet since 4v4 and 3v3 are not a great test of defensive play. Jake was very aggressive on the puck. It is intriguing to have that option from the left side – will absolutely be watching the rest of this camp and main camp.

Tage is less wiry and seemed to be a level above the rest in scrimmage. That being said, he can still add some weight. He drove the net constantly and forced defenders backwards. My favorite moment of the scrimmages was Tage setting up behind the net, whistling a pass to the low slot where STL’s Mike Davies drilled home a goal.

I would love to see a 5 minute exhibition of Tage Vs Klim 1v1.

A few final short takes:

Jordan Kyrou did well. He challenged defenders for pucks and won quite a few ala Robby Fabbri.

Toropchenko is almost Tage Thompson tall and he was on the ice a ton during the scrimmages. Unfortunately, I decided to move behind one of the two nets, and his team was shooting at the opposite end, so I missed his play down low. You can tell he is a bit raw relative to guys like Thompson and Thomas but he was excellent considering being 18 and from the larger ice surface of Russia.

It would be interesting to hear other people’s opinions of today’s prospect camp and I look forward to providing my opinions on tomorrow’s camp.

LGB.

Cover credit to Ferry Designs.

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