VOORHEES -- There's one feeling that permeates the air inside the Skate Zone, as you stand along the glass or sit on the cold metal bleachers watching players that you've mostly never heard of or seen slap pucks around in black and white jerseys.
This is boring.
Yep, today was honestly my first prospect camp experience, and I have to say that after four hours of standing against a wall watching a bunch of kids run through drills, I haven't exactly come away with any more knowledge or anything poignant to say. And how could I, really?
Anybody who sits there and says that they were impressed with this guy or didn't think much of that guy is lying to you. Well, maybe not lying, but certainly not giving you the entire story. These are judgments made off of line rushes and stickhandling drills. Oh, and maybe five one-on-one or two-on-one attempts at the net per player.
If someone is saying they were impressed with Brayden Schenn, it's because he roofed a beautiful shot on Brad Phillips (Brad f'n Phillips), and then followed it up with a pretty backhander. Whoop de doo, two plays. If someone says they were impressed with Zac Rinaldo, it's because he was able to control the puck through a little wood thing on the ice, and then he got off a nice shot afterwards with no defense on his back.
Did he show he had some hands today? Sure, but it was in a freakin' drill. With the defensemen in the locker room.
I'm not saying prospect camp is meaningless. Far from it, in fact. The scouts know these players better than we all do and can take what they see on the ice and the hard work the players are being put through and actually use that knowledge to their advantage. They wouldn't do it if it were meaningless. Really, this camp is just to acclimate these players in the organization, have them meet people they otherwise wouldn't meet and to give them a taste of what it takes to play at the NHL level.
For us, though, who have never watched most of these guys play the game, it's almost impossible to come away with anything that resembles an honest opinion. All I'm saying is that as much as we want to make snap judgments on all these players based on their performance in camp, we can't. None of it really matters.
If Schenn has a horrible camp, does that mean he's horrible? No, it means he looked bad in drills for five days. Same goes for any player, good or bad or mediocre or whatever.
Besides, not one player necessarily stands out anyway. Schenn, maybe, but that's because we're all watching him closely. In reality, he doesn't look much different from Rinaldo or Tom Sestito or Mike Testwuide or Luke Pither or anybody else. These guys can all shoot, pass, stickhandle and skate. Some do it better than others, of course, but those are meaningful differences you notice in games, not drills.
It's impossible to come away with an honest judgment of a hockey player after watching them play a single game or two games or even five games. How are we supposed to come up with honest judgments about them after five days of drills and scrimmages?
Some more notes after the jump.- I have to say that walking into Skate Zone for the first time since the mayhem that this offseason has created is a weird experience. If you walk into the store, you'd think Claude Giroux was the only player left on the hockey team. His jersey lines the walls, mostly because every other jersey that hung on display is now irrelevant.
- The crowd was impressive. I missed Day 1, but I can't imagine it was too much bigger than today's crowd. The bleachers were mostly full and people lined the glass in the corner near the doors.
- Tom Sestito is a giant man. Again, I can't make any real judgments on his hands or his speed or whatever, having only watched a day of drills and two AHL games. But he's freakin' huge.
- On the flip side, I couldn't help but notice Zac Rinaldo skating in circles and playing with the puck while the rest of the forwards were attentively listening to the coach explain what was going on before several of the drills. It looked like he just wanted to get on with it, and couldn't be bothered to listen to what the coach had to say.
- I noticed Sean Couturier once, and that's because he was standing directly in front of me. Again, this doesn't matter one way or another. They were doing drills.
- The instructors today included Ian Laperriere, Derien Hatcher, Kjell Samuelsson and some other dude that I have never seen before. Dave Isaac says it was former NHL defenseman Joel Bouchard, who played with every team in the Atlantic except for the Flyers. Hm.
- Dave also says they're going to scrimmage on Saturday, so at least we'll be able to see a bit more then. Seriously, drills suck.
- I didn't go in the locker room after today's events, mostly because I forgot my camera and recorder (slacking). Apparently Rinaldo said more funny things. I'll make sure I'm in there on Saturday, Sunday and Monday for more.
- The Trial on the Isle is tomorrow, and we're likely going to completely ignore it for reasons herein.