CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche Development Camp officially kicked off on Tuesday at Family Sports Center, and the on-ice sessions offered fans their first glimpse at the newest members of the Avs organization.
Six draftees from last weekend's 2017 selection in Chicago--Cale Makar, Conor Timmins, Nick Henry, Petr Kvaca, Denis Smirnov and Nick Leivermann--highlighted the list of camp invites, which also featured newly-signed defenseman Andrei Mironov, seven returning players--Adam Werner, Nicolas Meloche, Nate Clurman, Tyson Jost, J.C. Beaudin, Travis Barron and Cam Morrison--and eight free agents--Francis Leclerc, Ryan Larkin, Tom Gregoire, Desmond Bergin, Sami Moilanen, Ty Lewis, Hugo Roy and Brady Shaw.
The day's activities were broken into seven stations, three of which occurred on the ice. With players split into four groups based on position, they rotated between stops that focused on skating, passing and fundamentals, shots for the goalies, workouts, shooting for everyone else, nutritional education, video analysis and finally an organized practice as a complete group.
"It's really important," defenseman and Boulder, Colorado, native Nate Clurman said of what he learns at the summer event. "They're trying to teach us stuff that you don't get to learn hands on for awhile. It's mostly over the phone with development guys [during the year], so when you get to come here and see it be done and work with them and have time set out for you, it's really helpful.
"Instead of just talking on the phone during the year, because you can see some stuff in your game, but really having the time to work on it is really helpful, and you can move it into the season."
Video: Nate Clurman at 2017 Avalanche Development Camp
Skating has been a serious focus for the Avalanche at camp for the past three seasons, and consultant Tracy Tutton was once again present to work with everyone on the intricacies and efficiency of fanciful footwork.
"Tracy's great. She uses video that she shows you right on the bench," Clurman said. "She's the first person I've ever seen do that for me, and she gets your knee bend down to the degree. So that's really cool to see, and then she can just critique you all over."
Goaltenders Werner, Kvaca, Leclerc and Larkin spent time working with goalie coaches Jean-Ian Filiatrault (San Antonio Rampage) and Ryan Bach (Colorado Eagles), working on position dynamics and facing shots from A.J. Greer, Ben Storm and Avalanche general manager and executive vice president Joe Sakic's son Chase.
"I think it was good," Swedish netminder Adam Werner confessed. "This was my first ice practice in a few weeks, so it was really hard but, I think it's getting better every day here. It's always fun to be here and go on the ice with the guys."
Video: Prospect Adam Werner on his season in Sweden
Passing and skating work featured Avalanche legend and development consultant Adam Foote, who stressed the importance of weight transfer between legs as players moved forward and backward while receiving and making passes.
"Foote, he's been through it all, and he's watched so much hockey and played so much, he just knows everything that you need," said Clurman. "Everything is down to the last detail, so it's not you doing something half-effort. Everything's got to be [full-effort], and he'll correct you and it's good to see, because he's pushing you to be your best."
Shooting sessions took place at Slammers, just down the street from Family Sports Center. There skaters faced a variety of challenges while shooting on synthetic ice toward nets at the far end of the facility.
"We went to a baseball indoor batting cage, and we were shooting pucks. So that was kind of fun. It was a couple good laughs, and it was also a challenge. It was a good part of the day," forward Travis Barron said of the unique session. "There were different types of shots you had to do, some that made you uncomfortable, but the hardest thing was there were targets you had to hit, and the targets were probably the size of a puck. So you really had to be accurate to hit those pucks."
Video: Prospect Travis Barron on captaining the Ottawa 67's
The first day's practice session included a series of mini-games set at center ice to get the juices flowing after a long start to the three-day camp. Day 2 offers more of the same.