Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nittany Lions Close NHL Development Camps

With the last-to-start, last-to-finish Boston Bruins concluding on-ice activities at their development camp on Sunday, here's a look at how things proceeded for each of the five Penn Staters - draft picks Eamon McAdam (Islanders), Mike Williamson (Canucks) and Patrick Koudys (Capitals), along with free agent invites Casey Bailey (Bruins) and Matt Skoff (Flyers) - who received a crash course in life as an NHLer over the past week.

I'd like to think that part of my value lies in my ability (well, willingness, it doesn't really require talent) to sift through things, pull out the essentials, eliminate the duplication of information, and save you guys from the trouble. With that in mind and under the assumption that you know how to find out who the Capitals' second-line center will be this season or how guys like 2013 top-15 picks Ryan Pulock and Sam Morin looked at their respective camps if you care, the plan here is to limit things to direct coverage and discussion of the PSU guys.

However, I also included links to daily summary articles for each team (even when not discussing our specific interest), just to give an idea of the activities of everyone at the camps, Nittany Lions included. Unfortunately, not all teams updated every single day - or at all - beyond one-on-one interview videos and player-based features well past this post's scope, and there was a ton of variance in how much of the off-ice agenda was shared. Other than what is listed, most camps participated in team-building exercises in the evening, with excursions to see the local baseball team probably the most popular of those.

One more thing before getting started: the first rule of being an obsessive "I need to know everything" blogger is that there's always more out there than is possible for one human to locate. If you know of something I missed (quality photos of Skoff and/or Williamson playing hockey in NHL jerseys would be particularly helpful), let me know in the comments and I'll be more than happy to share, with full credit, of course.

Anyway, here we go...


Vancouver Canucks

Mike Williamson
  • On the first full day of camp, July 8th, the Canucks posted a video of drills with Williamson making a cameo (number 71). He's not doing much other than standing there and listening to a coach, but hey, it's something.
  • Following the Grouse Grind - a climb up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver - on July 10th, a brief interview with Williamson was posted on Canucks.com. He said that camp so far was "really good... it's been great so far, and it's good to meet the guys." Williamson then described himself as a defenseman who tries to be physical while moving the puck as quickly and efficiently as possible and also said that his goals for the week involved gauging the team's expectations and the work that needs to be put in to succeed on the highest levels.
  • Later that day, the prospects visited the BC Children's Hospital, where Williamson was photographed with Nicole, a six-year-old fighting kidney disease (he's the one leaning on the top of the bed). A few other shots of Williamson on the trip were captured by the Vancouver Sun, including the one above (he's the furthest right) with four-year-old heart patient Mady Keefe.
  • At the conclusion of camp, Williamson expressed his gratitude on Twitter:

Sunday, July 7th: Fitness testing, on-ice drills and measurements
Monday, July 8th: Skills testing, MMA training, yoga, scrimmage
Tuesday, July 9th: Skill development, weight training, dragon boat races, cooking class
Wednesday, July 10th: Grouse Grind, visit to BC Children's Hospital
Thursday, July 11th: Open scrimmage
Friday, July 12th: Four-on-four scrimmage, exit meetings

In addition to the regular recaps, Canucks.com also produced live blogs on several days that did a good job integrating their social media presence: July 8 // July 9 // July 10.




Washington Capitals

Patrick Koudys
  • According to Caps blog The Peerless Prognosticator, Koudys spent July 9th's session partnered with Madison Bowey, Washington's 53rd overall pick on June 30th. The Manitoba native has spent the last two full seasons with the WHL's Kelowna Rockets and in 2012-2013 put up 30 points in 69 games. Bowey spoke with the media that day, but shockingly nobody asked him about his development camp d-partner.
  • On July 10th, Koudys again was paired up with Bowey for the camp's first scrimmage. However, their Team Red was waxed by Team White 7-3, with video of most of the game's goals available here. On the 3-1 goal beginning 19 seconds in, Koudys allows his man into a good scoring position, although it's unclear if he got a stick on the shot as it came through.
  • Team White dominated Team Red for the second time in a row on July 11th, winning that day's scrimmage 4-0. Koudys was again paired with Bowey, and the two were caught napping on White's second goal, scored by Riley Barber (Bowey more so than Koudys). All four goals were captured on video this time around.
  • The third scrimmage went to Red, 7-3 (video of all goals here). Koudys appeared - it's not always easy to read numbers on the video, but I believe it's him - to make a careless giveaway on a pass up the middle to lead to White's first goal (seemingly verified by this tweet), and he was in the box for Chandler Stephenson's shorthanded effort to make the score 5-2.
  • I would like to make it clear that videos showing only a game's goals tend to not be very flattering to defensive defensemen, and that Koudys likely played much better than what the previous three points indicate.
  • Red completed the turnaround with a 6-4 win in the camp-closing scrimmage on July 13th (first period, second period, third period, highlights). Koudys played a steady game from the back end partnering occasionally with Bowey, but mostly with 2013 seventh-round pick Tyler Lewington. On the game's opening goal, Koudys was able to start the rush by knocking a bad D-to-D pass that could have ended in disaster loose at the defensive line for Stephenson to advance with speed, and he was also effective when pinching. Primarily though, he was true to type as a stay-at-home guy who made smart plays under pressure and wasn't afraid to stand people up both entering and exiting zones. He was victimized on the goal that made the score 3-2 for White by a fluky bounce off the post that allowed his man to pound it home and was occasionally drawn out high in the zone, but he made up for any missteps with a couple of outstanding shifts on consecutive penalty kills with his team hanging on to a late one-goal lead.
The Capitals' official updates were largely on video and unfortunately offered little insight regarding the camp's off-ice actvities. So instead, here is The Peerless Prognosicator on three of the six days.

Monday, July 8th: On-ice testing, practices
Tuesday, July 9th: Practices
Wednesday, July 10th: Practices, scrimmage
Thursday, July 11th: Practices, scrimmage
Friday, July 12th: Practices, scrimmage
Saturday, July 13th: Scrimmage




Philadelphia Flyers

Matt Skoff
  • Prior to camp beginning, Stack the Pads covered Skoff's invitation.
  • On July 10th, the Flyers prospects participated in their annual Trial on the Isle, a unique development camp tradition that involves a day of participation in beach-based competition and community service events in Stone Harbor, NJ. Skoff's four-man team included 2011 fourth-round draft pick Marcel Noebels, Colorado College defenseman Eamonn McDermott and Erie Otters (OHL) forward Stephen Harper.
  • Skoff, thanks to his backwards Penn State hat, was pretty easy to spot in photos and video at Trial on the Isle, including a group shot with him right in the middle taken before things got underway - and it looks like he's bulked up a bit. He also makes a cameo in an Instagram video of the players approaching the beach and elsewhere (see media at the link in the last bullet).
  • While it probably wasn't the producer's intent, Skoff is fairly prominently featured in this camp highlight video as he faced shots during drills from some of the team's top prospects. He's the goalie with the dark mask and mostly white pads with the small oval near the top, or number 70 on the rare occasions you can see his back.
  • Although he looked to be doing well in the video, there's at least a bit of anecdotal evidence of the opposite, specifically, mentions of players like Morin and Petr Straka scoring quality goals on him. It does need to be said, though, that a free agent invite like Skoff is only newsworthy to Flyers people when he's getting beat by their draft picks/prospects, so we'd be unlikely to hear of more positive exploits.
  • Behance.net grabbed the best action shot of Skoff I managed to find.
  • Like Williamson, Skoff delivered a wrap-up tweet when it was over, and also gave some insight regarding his apparent beef situation:

The Flyers media relations staff, for the most part, was pretty terrible in their reporting about camp (beyond Trial on the Isle), partly because their attention was ripped away from it by the introduction of free agent signings and former coach Fred Shero's election to the Hockey Hall of Fame. As a result, I relied on TheHockeyGuys.net for July 7th, 8th and 11th. Beyond the official site's July 10th recap, which I did use, they also came through with a nice feature explaining the goals of Philadelphia's camp, and how they differed from previous scrimmage-heavy years.

Sunday, July 7th: Testing, light drills
Monday, July 8th: Practices with position groups separated, light afternoon skate
Tuesday, July 9th: Two on-ice sessions
Wednesday, July 10th: Trial on the Isle
Thursday, July 11th: Practice, grocery shopping and cooking class, camp break




Boston Bruins

Casey Bailey

  • Any information at all on free agent invites can be considered a bonus, as obviously, the team, media and fans are much more focused on their draft picks (and usually just the high ones - even guys like Koudys and Williamson tend to be afterthoughts). Fortunately Hockey's Future poster Alicat provided a nugget from July 13th's session - and a positive one to boot: "Good hands and is an excellent passer. Has some speed. He, [Seth] Griffith and [Anton] Blidh had one rush where they went tick-tack-toe and scored on [Zane] Gothberg. Very reminiscent of [the Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line]'s passing on odd man rushes."
  • HF's DKH called Bailey "noticeable" in a brief collection of end-of-camp thoughts. Encouraging stuff to see, particularly when, as mentioned, the average Bruins observer had little incentive to care about him.
  • Besides the picture above, which originated with the Bruins' Twitter account, he was also photographed by Puck Sage while shooting on goalie prospect/famous hockey family member Malcolm Subban.
  • During Monday's team-building activities on Thompson Island, Bailey (blindfolded, bottom left) was included in an Instagram collage of a climb up an alpine tower.

Wednesday, July 10th: Practice, testing, social media training
Thursday, July 11th: Skills drills, full practice, cooking class
Friday, July 12th (1, 2, 3): Practices, community service activities
Saturday, July 13th: Running/fitness testing, practices, scrimmages, nutrition class
Sunday, July 14th: Practices
Monday, July 15th: Team building exercises, camp break




New York Islanders

Eamon McAdam
  • The team posted an Instagram video of what they called McAdam's "first drill in an Islanders jersey" on July 9th, the opening day of their camp. Kid can move laterally, which is probably good for a goalie.
  • That same day, WFAN's Daniel Friedman asked him about the first thing he noticed when stepping on the ice. The answer: "How strong everybody is. Everyone's bigger, faster, stronger than anything I've ever experienced." (1, 2)
  • On July 10th, Friedman mentioned McAdam as a practice standout, and followed up after the close of camp with some impressions: "He was sharp throughout the week. The thing I noticed about him was how fast he moved across the crease and his knack for being square to the shooter... At times, he was a little too aggressive and he certainly has what to work on, but McAdam looked good. Refreshingly, he looked nothing like his pre-draft stats suggested he would. He made a handful of quality saves during the scrimmage, including some fairly tough ones."
  • He stopped 28 of 33 shots and took the loss in the open-to-the-public Orange vs. Blue scrimmage on July 11th and was outstanding in the skills competition that followed the game (covered in a separate post). Another opinion on his play there, from This Is Islander Country: "I liked what I saw from Eamon McAdam in net. He gave up a soft goal or two, but the kid is only 18. He played the angles well and moved pretty well laterally in the net. Made a handful of nice saves too. Needs to work on his rebound control a bit, but he definitely looks like a solid goalie prospect."
  • Newsday's photo gallery of the event included a great McAdam shot (above).
  • All departures are not created equal:

Tuesday, July 9th: On-ice practices, off-ice training
Wednesday, July 10th: On-ice practices, off-ice training
Thursday, July 11th: Morning skate, Orange vs. Blue Scrimmage/Skills Competition
Friday, July 12th: Practices, camp break

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