Although the NHL season is more than three months away, the Columbus Blue Jackets prospects gave fans a look at the future on the opening day of Development Camp on Tuesday.
Although all eyes will be on the young players this week, Development Coach Tyler Wright, who is in charge of the camp, said this week's camp will be a chance for the players to learn more so than for the coaching staff to evaluate.
"This week is about seeing how we work out and how NHL players work out," Wright said. "What type of routines they go through, down to what guys eat before workouts or pregame. We’re trying to cover all the bases."
Tuesday was the longest day of the week for the players. The day began with medicals at 7 a.m. followed by off-ice ice fitness testing, on-ice practice and finally finished at 6 p.m. in the gym.
"You go all year watching them but don't have the chance to interact like this," Wright said. "There are lots of nerves and it’s been a real long day for these kids. They're pretty tired but they'll get settled in as we go on."
For the second straight year, former Blue Jackets' first-round pick Ryan Johansen headlined the group of 30 players in attendance.
After spending much of last year's camp getting acclimated with the organization, Johansen said he was much more comfortable this time around.
"It's nice to have a year under my belt. It's a great learning experience and it's been a tough first day but it's been fun," Johansen said. "We feel like it's been a month already and it's just been one day, so it's definitely going to be beneficial."
Wright said Johansen and the rest of the players should take this opportunity learn in order to better their chances at making the NHL squad.
"We're all excited for a guy like Ryan Johansen, who had his coming out party for everybody last year. Many people think he has a chance to play on our club but he'll determine that," Wright said.
After completing his junior year at Boston College, Cam Atkinson was back at development camp for his third year. As a Hobey Baker Award finalist last season, Atkinson ranked second in the nation in goals. Now he is trying to prepare himself for his first full year as a professional.
"I'm looking forward to giving myself the best opportunity to make the team," Atkinson said. "Playing my junior year gave me tons of confidence. I tried to get a little bigger and more mature and I think it benefited me in the end."
While Johansen and Atkinson are camp veterans, four of the Blue Jackets' 2011 draft picks, including first pick Boone Jenner were in attendance.
Less that 72 hours after being selected by Columbus with the 37th pick this past weekend, Jenner was trying to get acclimated with his new team.
"It's been a whirwind for sure. Two days ago I was getting drafted by Columbus and now I'm here," Jenner said. "I'm happy to be here, you couldn't ask for a better place. The facility is unbelievable."
Like Johansen and Atkinson, Jenner said his goal is to take in as much as possible.
"I'm going to be a sponge and soak everything in. There are so many good guys around here with a lot of knowledge. They know what it takes to make it in this league," Jenner said.