CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche development camp officially began with a day full of on-ice sessions at Family Sports Center on Friday.
It was the first time that six of Colorado's selections from the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas--Martin Kaut, Justus Annunen, Sampo Ranta, Tyler Weiss, Brandon Saigeon and Nikolai Kovalenko--got to be on the ice in front of the Avalanche staff.
Although the camp will be the first for the newest members of the Avalanche, there are some attendees that have gone through the camp before. Some of the returning prospects include 2017 draftees Cale Makar, Conor Timmins, Nick Henry, Petr Kvaca and Denis Smirnov.
"Definitely my experience here last year, coming into this year I feel a lot more comfortable with everybody," Makar said of being at his second development camp. "I built some bonds with guys last year, especially our draft class, and I think that carried a lot over this year and we kind of want to spread it through everybody. I feel like everybody is starting to get to know each other here and everything is starting to open up."
In addition to current prospects, the Avalanche has invited nine free agents, including forwards Matthew Boucher, Robbie Holmes, Vladislav Kotkov, Logan O'Connor and Cole Reinhardt and defensemen Alex Breton, Kevin Davis, Turner Ottenbreit and Sean Strange.
Video: Ty Lewis on signing with the Avalanche
It is the second development camp for forward Ty Lewis, who was invited to come last summer and joined the organization when he signed with Colorado on Oct. 3, 2017.
"I think it's a great week to learn and develop as a hockey player. Everybody here has been great, you know, coaching and staff," said Lewis. "Everybody has been so supportive and helping everybody out. The guys I am in a group with have been really good, lots of joking around, so having lots of fun here, learning lots. Just trying to put some stuff into my game that I feel like can make me a better hockey player and hopefully things work out."
All of the prospects were split into small groups on Friday morning that were focused on power skating and skill drills led by the Avalanche player development staff.
After a break from on-ice activities in the middle of the day, the busy day ended with a full-team practice, led by the Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar and his coaching staff.
Coach Bednar ran some drills with the Avalanche prospects before he closed the session with a fun, two-on-two competition between the blue lines.
Video: Cale Makar discusses his season at development camp
"It was definitely awesome. I think just especially all of us being able to go on the ice together, it was great," said Makar. "I might have had a little bit of a wonky day myself, but you are just kind of getting the early jitters out and getting to know everybody and how they play. But, definitely awesome to be on the ice with an NHL coach that's for sure."
The next time the whole group will be on the ice together will be at EPIC - Blue Arena in Fort Collins for a three-on-three game on Sunday afternoon.
The five-day camp will wrap up with off-ice team activities in Northern Colorado on Monday.