It was a long, action packed week for the Vancouver Canucks prospects, so perhaps it was fitting that the final scrimmage went nearly 10 minutes into overtime before Adam de Champlain scored, finally wrapping up camp.
The players impressed Canucks management from the get-go, wowing them with their fitness testing and on-ice evaluations on Sunday, to their final ice-time Friday morning.
“We are really pleased with the quality of the camp we’ve had. In terms of skill and the guys competed really hard, we had three-on-three right down the end,” said Director of Player Development, Dave Gagner.
“They battled pretty hard, so you can see there was a lot of pride out there.”
As much as the camp allows for the team to more closely examine the players on the ice, Gagner said it’s almost more beneficial as it give management some face-time with the prospects, allowing the two sides to know each other away from the rink.
“During the week we get to interact with all the kids, so we get to know them all individually. During the season you are just watching them from afar, the invites especially, so it’s good to get to know everybody.”
For first year attendees, like Bo Horvat, the camp served as a first impression to the organization and the city of Vancouver.
“It’s a great organization. They have a beautiful facility here,” said Horvat after finishing the final skate of the camp.
“The fans that came out to the scrimmages were great. I was surprised to see that many people here which was good to see. You can really feel the passion they have.“
While it could be tempting to take a short break following a non-stop week of activities, Horvat can’t wait to get back home and hit the gym in preparation for the Young Stars Classic in Penticton this September.
“Pretty much as soon as I get back I’ll be on the ice again and in the gym and keep working hard.”
Horvat displayed the skills that earned him that 9th overall selection at this year’s draft, but said he is still looking to boost his explosiveness as he hopes to crack the Canucks opening night roster.
Take it from Tom
The Prospect Development camp serves a different purpose for different players. While rookies are getting their first impressions, guys like Frankie Corrado, who finished his third go-around at the camp, it was all about building on the foundation from years before.
“My goal is to always improve my fitness testing. You also want to come out and show your skills and what you can do with the puck.”
Prior to yesterday’s scrimmage, Dave Gagner showed the group a video focusing on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The three-time Super Bowl champ began his career in obscurity with little-to-no expectations, but has risen to be one of the greatest players of all time, a story that had a resounding effect on Corrado especially.
“The message was it doesn’t matter how high you get drafted, or what you name is. Brady went 199th overall and he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL,” said Corrado who himself was taken in the 5th round, 150th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.
“I love hearing stories like that, you know, being the guy was picked late and never really had the recognition before the draft. It’s great motivation hearing stories like those.”
After their one-on-one exit meetings with the coaching staff, the players will return to the homes to prepare for the Young Stars Classic in Penticton this September, with the aim of earning an invitation to the Canucks Training Camp.