No sooner did I mention that this week is a big one for player arrivals did more new faces show up at the OhioHealth Ice Haus this morning.
Comparatively speaking, the weather outside was much better today than yesterday, but when you're inside an ice rink and hearing the familiar sound of skates carving up ice, there's no place I would rather be. It's even better than a round of golf on a sunny day beside the ocean, which in my book, is second only to a new jar of Nutella.
May have been kidding about that last part. But, alas.
A few more guys joined the ranks today at the Ice Haus, and the total now sits somewhere between 13 and 15 players who have arrived in town. Forward Cam Atkinson, who will be living with the Umberger family this season, is due to arrive sometime this evening and is expected to skate with the group later in the week.
Adrian Aucoin, James Wisniewski, Steve Masonand Artem Anisimov were additions to the Wednesday group after being absent for the prior day's session. Mason, sporting some new-look leg pads featuring the club's third jersey color scheme, skated for the full hour-plus and looked good in his first action.
I'm no talent evaluator, but I thought Mason was quick, efficient and even made some highlight-reel stops - which are the only kind of stops you make in a wide-open game of shinny between a bunch of professional hockey players. These guys were making the puck sing out there, whether it was a 2-on-2 drill or a breakaway sequence.
Maybe it was a summer full of house league hockey (no offense, guys), but all it took was watching a couple of these skates to realize how good NHL players are.
Here are some of my general observations from this morning:
-- Much like yesterday, I really liked Brandon Dubinsky's energy level. There seems to be a synergy developing between he and Vinny Prospal. I touched on it yesterday, and the more I see them play together (albeit informally), I think they could be a good pair.
-- This was my first time seeing Aucoin skate, and he looked fresh. He's been training hard over the summer and, like he told me a few weeks ago, is coming to Columbus to be more than just a mentor to the young defensemen. Watching him move around the ice and smartly transport the puck today reaffirmed that. He's got a lot of game left.
-- Anisimov is a dark horse impact player in my book. He's fast, has great size (6-foot-4), and can finish scoring chances. Granted, this format is a lot of run-and-gun without much resistance, but he's a skilled player that could easily pot 20 goals this season.
-- Contrary to what my poor eyesight tells me, Atkinson was not skating today. Please pardon my error on Twitter, and special thanks to Jeff Rimer for confirming that I'm getting old (just kidding, Rims).
-- If the guys skate tomorrow, you'll hear more from me. You, my friends, are lucky.