Deciding to take a break from what seems like a never ending job search, I headed down to the First Niagara Center for Day 2 of the Buffalo Sabres 2012 Development Camp. While I missed some of the first session, I was able to take a few notes and quite a bit of video of the second session which featured the Sabres' three most recent first round picks (Joel Armia, Zemgus Girgensons, and Mikhail Grigorenko). SPACE K has done a nice job with defining Day 2 with some personal insights, so I will try to focus my post more on the drills and video I took from the practice. If you are interested in some notes, an outline of Day Two's practice and some video, come take the jump!
Below is an outline of the practice that took place today for both the first and second session. I am not sure of the actual names to each of these drills, but I tried to do my best in defining what each one could be called. Perhaps readers with a more extensive hockey background could detail the actual names of what the coaches had the prospects practicing today.
2. Dump-In 2 on 1 Drills
3. 4 on 2 Drills (Video of 2nd Session)
4. Dump and Retrieve Net Drills (Video of 2nd Session)
5. 5 on 5 Zone Play
6. 4 on 4 Play (Video of 1st Session)
7. Shootout: First to Five Goals (Video of both Sessions)
Each of these drills were split up with an explanation to the prospects and/or skating and push ups (I supposed depending on the mood of the coaches). The explanation was usually longer for the second group since they included many of the Sabres newer players (Grigs, Girgs, and McCabe to name a few). Overall, the pace of the session was quite brisk; both practices were about an hour with very little down time. Pile that on with the Navy Seals training they are receiving, and I bet these guys are quite tuckered out once mid-day is reached.
For those who cannot make it down this week, I decided to take some video that would show some of the drills in action over the course of Day 2. For some of the videos, the left screen became blurry which was a direct result of me eating popcorn while at the Development Camp. Since I am a rookie at this event, I will take this occurrence as a learning tool. Anyways, to the videos!
2012 BUF Development Camp 4 on 2 Drills (via bgred105)
This is the 4 on 2 drill from the second session. In this drill, two defensemen are defending against three forwards and a defenseman who have to bring the puck behind the red line before bringing the puck back up the ice to enter the offensive zone. The drill ends with a goal or a clearing out of the zone. I don't have many notes on this section of the practice, but I do not think any goals were scored in this drill during the second session.
2012 BUF Development Camp Dump and Retrieve Drills (via bgred105)
The Dump and Retrieve Net Drills consisted of three separate parts:
- D-man feeds the puck to the corner where a forward picks it up and passes in front to a crashing forward
- D-man wraps the puck around the net, puck is picked up by forward and fed in front
- D-man shoots from point with a two man screen on the goalie; tip is attempted
In this drill, I noted that Joel Armia was especially snake-bitten; there were multiple times when he was robbed by Mark Guggenburger on point blank opportunities. Grigorenko and Girgensons were paired together during this drill, and Girgs had a nice finish on the second part of the drill. Armia was paired with Christian Isackson, who actually showed some good skill in both this drill and the shootout.
2012 BUF Development Camp 4 on 4 Drills (via bgred105)
The 4 on 4 scrimmages were arguably the most exciting part of both sessions. In this drill, two lines of four competed directly against each other in a mini-game of sorts. The Group 1 lines were quite consistent, while Group 2 had quite a big of juggling; therefore I tried to put together who I saw the most on the ice while together. Also for this reason, I was only able to keep score of the first game against the second. While these may not be all the line combos, the following sets were witnessed on the ice on Tuesday:
Luke Adam - Cody Hodgson - Corey Tropp - Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
Daniel Catenacci - Kevin Sundher - Logan Nelson - Drew MacKenzie
Team Catenacci: 3, Team Adam: 1
Brian Flynn - Colin Jacobs - Jonathan Parker - Mackenzie Braid
Alex Leptowski - Kevin Czuczman - Justin Jokinen - Brad Navin
Team Leptowski: 1, Team Flynn: 0
Even with Team Adam losing their mini-game, I really liked the overall play of the Adam-Hodgson-Tropp line. They obviously are the most experienced players on the ice at all times, which says a lot for the winning team of the mini-game, Team Catenacci. While he is one of the smaller centers in our system (excluding Tyler Ennis), Catenacci has some superb skating ability and soft hands. Logan Nelson (just as SPACE K had wrote) also worked quite well on the line, though his best skills were seen in the shootout drill. Another player I enjoyed watching was Brian Flynn, who hopefully can aide Rochester this season as a solid offensive pivot. I wasn't able to examine his two-way play much in the 4 on 4, but his work ethic and offensive skill is quite noticeable.
Brayden McNabb - Nick Crawford - Judd Peterson
Christian Isackson - Mark Pysyk - Jake McCabe - Mikhail Grigorenko
Phil Varone - Marcus Foligno - Jacob Legace
Riley Boychuk - Zemgus Girgensons - Joel Armia- Corey Fienhage
Frederick Roy - Justin Kea
For this group, it can simply be put that Marcus Foligno is a TOTAL beast. Against a group of prospects, Foligno almost single-handedly controlled play at times. With him cruising around the zone with puck possession and breaking up defensive zone exits, it was almost impossible to not notice him on the ice. As for the young kids (The G-Men and Armia), they somewhat struggled with the puck when it was in their zone. While they all have a good offensive skill, their age definitely shines through at times.
2012 Buffalo Sabres Development Camp Shootout (1st Group, Day 2) (via bgred105)
On this side of the shootout, the Team Catenacci and Leptowski players shot against Linus Ullmark in a race to five goals. The two goals scored in the shootout were by Catenacci and Nelson on the high-blocker side of Ullmark. I was impressed with the hands of Nelson, who I was not aware of until the Sabres drafted him in the 5th round this season.
2012 Buffalo Sabres Development Camp Shootout (Day 2, 2nd Group, Part 1) (via bgred105)
For the Group 2 shootout, each team started from the bench and had to place the puck back on the blue line before the next skater could take his breakaway shot. The video above starts off with three straight goals by Mikhail Grigorenko on Guggenberger. The moves Grigs pulled off where quite exciting, as you can hear from the cameraman (me). The other two goals were scored by Judd Peterson and Christian Isackson.
2012 Buffalo Sabres Development Camp Shootout (Day 2, 2nd Group, Part 2) (via bgred105)
Unlike Group 1, Group 2 ended up switching goalies, allowing the shooters to also shoot on Connor Knapp. This turned out to be a much harder task, since it took over 5 minutes until the shootout was complete. Again, the team closest to me (which included the G-Men and Army) won, with Joel Armia scoring two goals high glove side (3:16 of video) on Knapp. The first goal of this video was scored by Isackson on a backhand, Mark Pysyk scored the second (1:40 of video) and the last goal was put in five hole by Boychuk.
Other personal notes/thoughts I take away from Day 2:
- I know Adam is talked about in many trade deals, but we must remember that he is still quite a young player who has five RFA years ahead of him (i.e. five years where the Sabres control his rights). He looks great in this camp (as he did last year), and I really hope fans could give him a little more patience before deeming him a failure.
- Some people commented that Knapp looked shaky today; from what I saw, he looked quite solid. Extending a shootout for over 5 minutes either means the shooter stinks or the goalie is good; I am choosing the later.
- Mark Guggenberger has a cool name....and he is a solid goalie, which was a nice surprise for today. Jim Corsi was working on his positioning a lot at the beginning of the second session, showing him how he should be exiting the crease to challenge a shooter and how he should move corner to corner to cover the net. I tried to get video of this but was too late...sorry Ogre.
- The G-Men and Armia struggled in moments when trapped in their own zone. Grigs and Armia clearly have offensive skill, but their defensive ability will need to improve to be a prototypical (excluding Breire) Ruff forward.
- I think Catenacci could be a solid NHL player...perhaps a new Derek Roy? I can hear the scoffs as you read that, but he was one of our best offensive players in the post Drury/Briere era. If Catenacci=Roy, that is a good draft pick.
Overall, this was a great experience. It was great to see the prospects in action, and it is phenomenal to see hockey in July. If any of you can get down there today or Thursday, I highly recommend it. One thing I also recommend is a jacket for tomorrow; with only a few thousand watching the practice, there is not body heat in that arena to offset the chillers and it gets mighty cold! This was my first Development Camp, but I can't wait for Thursday's scrimmage and seeing a new group of "kids" come to camp next season.