The first full day of the Blue Jackets' 2017 Development Camp got underway on Monday. Twenty one forwards, 12 defensemen and three goaltenders are in Columbus to get to know the organization, and each other, as the Jackets' get to know more about the players, too.
"It's tough to evaluate players at this time of the season," development coach Chris Clark said. "We don't put a lot of emphasis on (on-ice) evaluating. It's more about evaluating off the ice. Their personalities, getting to know them, especially our new draft picks and our invited players who we haven't met before."
After arriving Sunday, the Jackets' prospects went through medical testing, endured off-ice testing and attempted a grueling two-mile run in 12 minutes or less, a test John Tortorella introduced to the organization last year. A welcome dinner concluded the day and it was back to the hotel to rest up.
Video: Pierre-Luc Dubois talks about Development Camp
For many players, Monday was the first day back skating after the usual post-season break away from the ice, and more than a few admitted to needing to shake off some rust. A brisk hour skate full of shooting and skating drills seemed to be just the remedy.
Broken into two groups, the players skated in one of two consecutive on-ice sessions with all three goalies in attendance participating in both sessions. "Hard," is how newly-signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks described the morning.
After lunch, they players will have time for a rest before they are back to the Arena for another set of on and off-ice workouts.
Video: Kole Sherwood talks to the media about Draft, camp
There have already been some highlights. Kole Sherwood went bar down with his heavy shot a few times; and 6-foot-4 Swedish forward Kevin Stenlund showed his good hands and intensity.
Jumping on the ice for what is perhaps your first time in a Blue Jackets sweater can be a bit nerve-wracking in and of itself, doing it when you don't know anyone can be even more stressful. Players who are returning to camp, like defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and 2016 third overall Draft selection Pierre-Luc Dubois, are taking it upon themselves to help the newer players get comfortable.
Video: Carlsson talks about his late-season experience
"I've been talking to the young guys or the guys at their first camp," Dubois said. "Just making them feel more comfortable on the ice, in the locker room. I know it's not fun just going to your hotel room and not talking to anybody, it's fun to include everybody and make them all comfortable."
Tuesday promises to be another full day with on and off ice workouts and a group lunch followed by a community service event. After half of the players complete CPR training and half participate in a cooking class Monday evening, the two groups will switch activities the second day of camp.
"There's not a lot of down time," Clark said. "They're long days but it's four-and-a-half days of us getting to know them, them getting to know us and the organization, and them getting to know each other. After all, some of these guys will be teammates down the road."
Video: CBJ prospect Carson Meyer talks about getting drafted
- Other notes:
QMJHL MVP Vitaly Abramov is in Columbus but not currently at Development Camp due to illness. Clark hopes that he will be able to join the rest of the players later in the week.
- Alexandre Texier, fresh off being drafted 45th overall by the Jackets, is participating in the off-ice portions of camp only. He is in the final stages of healing a shoulder injury suffered while playing with Team France.
- Defenseman Veeti Vainio is also recovering from injury and will not participate in group skating activities. He skated on his own Monday with Jackets' coaches.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois didn't make the two-mile run in 12 minutes, it took him 40 additional seconds. He wasn't happy about it. "I'm a bad runner, and it's the beginning of the season." Assembled media were quick to challenge Dubois to reconsider his definition of "bad."
- Camp invite Michael Joyaux, a defenseman, is the brother of Ohio State hockey player, Matthew.
Development Camp coverage is presented by Mike's Hard Lemonade.