Ruff met the media Wednesday and said he's looking forward to seeing how the 12th player taken in the 2012 NHL Draft handles himself against bigger, stronger players.
"I think everyone is intrigued," Ruff said. "I think he's had an elite year in juniors. He's got very good hands, he's a very good playmaker, and he had a real good tournament at the World Juniors. Now you take that to a level where you're going to play against better competition, stronger bodies, guys who are heavier on the puck and compete at a stronger level.
"I think he'll be able to make plays, and I'm very intrigued to see what he can do against, and with, top-level players."
With a shortened season approaching, Ruff said he sees starting goaltender Ryan Miller playing 36 to 38 times, with backup Jhonas Enroth handling the rest. Miller did not play during the lockout, but Enroth has been playing in Sweden to stay sharp.
"All reports are than Jhonas has played really well over in Europe," Ruff said. "He's going to have to step in. He struggled a little bit last year, and we need him to be where he was the previous year, when he helped get us into the playoffs."
With a short training camp and no preseason games, Ruff said he's concerned about how quickly his players will be able to get into game shape while avoiding injuries.
"I think they are all going to be in good shape. The area I'm concerned about is the physical part of the game that you don't get when you train and practice," he said. "You can skate and do drills, but until someone is trying to track you down or someone is trying to backcheck you and you've got to hit that extra gear or get that extra stride that makes your legs burn when you don’t think you have any more inside you -- those are examples of what the players will have to deal with."
However, Ruff said he doesn't plan to do anything differently because of the shorter schedule.
"I'm not going to treat it any differently than a normal schedule," he said. "If you look at our schedule [last year], we were playing every other day with a couple of back-to-backs or four games in six days.
"This time of year, we're always playing a lot of games. Rest will be important, and we have to stay healthy."
Ruff said the early part of the season could be affected by the mix of players who've been competing overseas and those who haven't.
"Goal scoring has been pretty tight, and it got even tighter last year," he said. "But things could start off a little more ragged because of the number of players who haven't been playing. That could lead to more scoring and more penalties."
As for the abbreviated training camp, Ruff said he and his players would likely have different views.
"Coaches always want more camp time. Players always want less camp time," he said with a laugh. "If you asked players, they'd tell you that five or six days is good.
"It's going to be about playing the way we know how to play: keeping it simple and going out and playing."
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