Quite the first day of Blue Jackets development camp we had here at Nationwide Arena. The players came in for off-ice workouts in the morning, had a running test around lunch time and took the ice in the afternoon. Oh, and there was a live television broadcast going on outside of the OhioHealth Ice Haus!
Speaking of that broadcast, thanks to Bruce Drennan, Gene Winter and Ashley Collins for coming down to spend the day with us at development camp. They had a full lineup of Blue Jackets guests throughout the show, including RJ Umberger, Jarmo Kekalainen, Todd Richards and Ryan Murray.
You can watch all those segments on BlueJackets.com in the morning – just go to our homepage and they’ll be featured in the main rotator.
Now, on to our observations and analysis from the day…
-Was really impressed with Alexander Wennberg today. We’ve heard a lot about his skating and how effortless he makes it look…and we saw it first-hand on Tuesday. He still has plenty of room to grow into his frame and get stronger, but there’s a ton of talent there already. He had some really good looks (and a sweet finish) in the 2-on-2 and 2-on-1 drills.
-Talking to Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark last year about Joonas Korpisalo, it’s easy to see why Clark thinks he’s got the potential to be a special player. He has the size, athleticism and work ethic to make it happen, and he was impressive in his 2013 development camp debut. One thing that always stands out: how aggressive he is in challenging shooters and eliminating as much of the net as possible.
-Lukas Sedlak figures to be a solid two-way center for Brad Larsen’s club in Springfield this year, and you can tell he’s got good hockey smarts, too. He played important minutes on a regular basis in Chicoutimi (QMJHL) and is primed to take a step forward this year.
-Anton Forsberg was one of the standouts of last year’s development camp, and he was among the notables on Tuesday. There’s a lot to like about his game: good recovery skills, economic with rebounds and keeping pucks out of trouble, and seems to think the game really well. There were a handful of flashy glove saves mixed in there, as well. The number of pucks that made it past him could probably be counted on one hand. Glove, blocker, stick, leg—you name it, he used it and he had it covered.
-First thing you notice about Ilari Melart: he’s an enormous human being. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 211 lbs. (which may be a bit generous, because he’s huge), Melart was signed to a one-year, entry-level deal by Jarmo Kekalainen and he’s coming to Columbus with intentions of making the team. His highlight today: laying a thunderous hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand during the half-ice scrimmage. Pretty sure everyone in the building felt the impact.
-The best way to describe Kerby Rychel’s game: aggressive. He likes to be around the puck and with back-to-back 40 goal seasons in Windsor, it’s clear that he possesses a scoring touch to go along with his tenacity. He was zipping around the rink on Tuesday and showed off some pretty good wheels, too.
-The line of Jenner-Langlois-Collins had great chemistry in some of the line drills. The three constantly connected every pass, made every read and put several pucks in the back of the net. Even past a red-hot Anton Forsberg.
-Markus Soberg and Michael Chaput were the best offensive duo of the day. Every time they took the ice or did a drill together, something happened, even when unexpectedly forced to play defense on a turnover.
-Oscar Dansk had the highlight reel stop of the day when he blocked a shot with an epic somersault save to close out the on-ice session.
-One word to describe Ryan Murray’s play today: Wow. That kid has a bright future ahead of him. As a defenseman, his 2-on-1 play eliminates every option and he keeps shooters guessing. There were more than a few rushes that just dissipated when they got to Murray, and on the offensive end, not many of his shots missed the net either. Quick, accurate, and on the net.
-You couldn’t help but take notice whenever Chaput was on the ice. Whether it was skating with the puck, taking a shot, making a pass or setting up shop in the zone, Chaput dazzled and did a lot of things well.
-Dillon Heatherington and Thomas Larkin both took advantage of their size (Heatherington is 6-foot-3 and Larkin stands at 6-foot-5—without skates) during the on-ice sessions, bringing the physicality to their already intimidating frames. In 2-on-1 play, both used their size to force players to take tough shots from way outside and though it was a "limited contact" practice, going into their corner isn't recommended.
-Daniel Zaar was the hardest worker on the ice by far. If he thought he had a chance at a rebound or to recover his pass, he took it and finished the job without missing a beat. He battled in front of the net and won almost every battle simply due to outworking every other player. He's added some muscle since he was drafted by the Blue Jackets a year ago, as well.
Alright, that's all we have for Tuesday - but we're right back at it Wednesday with two sessions (goalies-only first, then the full group after that) at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. Be sure to check back at BlueJackets.com/DevCamp throughout the day for continued coverage of development camp.