By Kyle Shohara
With the final day of rookie camp in the books, the focus for many now shifts to main camp, which begins Friday at The Rinks – Anaheim Ice. Excitement and nerves are to be expected when prospects such as Brandon Montour, Shea Theodore and 18-year-old Julius Nattinen join the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler.
“I’m more anxious than anything, with this being my first [training camp],” Montour said. “It’s going to be an exciting time. I can’t wait to get going.” The 21-year-old had an unorthodox season last year, playing in the USHL, NCAA and AHL, before serving as a Black Ace during Anaheim’s postseason run. After getting a taste of professional hockey from his 14-game stint in Norfolk during which he earned 10 points and a +10 rating, Montour says he’s entering main camp with one goal in mind.
“I’m just going to take everything in, battle hard and try to make this team,” Montour said. “Gather information and get ready for the season wherever that may be.”
The same can be said for Theodore, who, like Montour, made an immediate impact at the AHL level. The former 2013 first-round pick co-led Admirals defensemen in goals and finished with 11 points in only nine games.
Before finishing the AHL season with the Admirals, Theodore played the majority of the 2014-15 campaign with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, where he put up 13 goals and 48 points with a +17 rating in 43 games. He was named the WHL’s Defenseman of the Year and to the Western Conference’s First All-Star Team for the second consecutive season. Theodore also helped lead Team Canada to gold at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, earning a goal and an assist with a +12 rating in seven games.
“I’m all ears, trying to soak everything in,” said Theodore, who missed most of last year’s camp due to an elbow injury suffered a few days prior in a rookie game vs. San Jose. “I want to make as big of an impression on the organization as I can, and do everything I can to make the team.”
When the Ducks traded Emerson Etem and the 41st overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft to the New York Rangers for Carl Hagelin and the 59th and 179th overall selections in 2015, the organization used that second-round pick to select Nattinen from JYP-Akatemia in Finland’s second division. Nattinen recorded 11 goals and 29 points in 39 games with the club, and also helped lead Finland to a silver medal at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
Shortly after the draft, Anaheim’s Director of Professional/Amateur Scouting Martin Madden said he wasn’t sure if the player they targeted at No. 41 would still be available at No. 59. Sure enough, the club was able to select Nattinen, who was one of the players they considered at No. 41.
“We got a little lucky there,” Madden said in a June interview. “We were fortunate. Nattinen’s a big, smart, skilled player. He’s fast, straight ahead, but needs to work on his agility and mobility a little bit. He’s a really smart player. He sees the ice and has the skill to make plays and score goals.”
The Ducks wasted no time inking Nattinen to a three-year entry-level contract on July 16.
Nattinen’s play-making ability was on display over the weekend, where he recorded a goal and two assists in two Futures Games vs. San Jose. Earlier today, Nattinen expressed his excitement as he embarks on his first pro training camp.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “It’s nice to see the NHL players. It’s good for me to see what they’re doing. I’ll try to learn how they play because it’s [a different style of play] here than in Europe. I have so much to learn.”
The Ducks will begin their 2015 Training Camp on Friday, Sept. 18 at Anaheim Ice with practices running from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (three groups using both NHL and Olympic rinks). Anaheim’s training camp is highlighted by three scrimmages that will be held Saturday through Monday beginning at 12 p.m. on the NHL rink of Anaheim Ice. All scrimmages and practices at Anaheim Ice will be open to the public and free of charge.