A 2009 first-round draft pick in his first-ever NHL training camp, Peter Holland
is at the opposite end of the spectrum in his career compared to established veterans Kyle Calder and Jassen Cullimore. But despite their vast differences in experience, each is fighting at Ducks training camp to prove they deserve a coveted spot on the team’s final roster.
|"It's unbelievable how much the speed goes up and how much stronger the guys are," said 2009 first-round pick Holland. They are all a lot smarter and you need to play a smarter game yourself to keep up." |
Holland will get his first crack at making a big impression tomorrow night when he takes the ice for Anaheim in the preseason opener against Phoenix at Honda Center. The 18-year-old, who has already played in the three-game Rookie Tournament at San Jose and taken part in each of the first three days of three-hour practice/scrimmage sessions at camp, understands the level of play will be even greater against the Coyotes.
“It’s unbelievable how much the speed goes up and how much stronger the guys are,” said Holland, who scored 67 points for Guelph of the OHL last season before being selected 15th overall by Anaheim in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “They are all a lot smarter out here and you need to play a smarter game yourself in order to keep up.
“But,” he says, “It’s a lot of fun.”
When the clock strikes 7:05 p.m. tomorrow night, the center admits he’ll have some butterflies. But helping calm Holland will be the presence of Calder Trophy runner-up and 30-goal scorer Bobby Ryan
on his line along with former Bowling Green University winger Dan Sexton
|"This is my third year in a row doing this and it is different," said Cullimore of being in training camp on a pro tryout agreement. "It can be a little tough. But the guys and the coaching staff are good here. They make players feel a part of it." |
“I have a little bit of nerves out here in the scrimmage,” Holland said. “Going into an exhibition game playing against Phoenix, there are definitely going to be some. Hopefully, playing with Bobby will ease some of that because he’s playing unbelievable.”
For Calder and Cullimore, both in camp on pro tryout agreements and former teammates with Chicago in 2005-06, their chance to show their wares in exhibition games will wait at least one day. Though they are not in the lineup for Wednesday, the Ducks will have three more games the next three nights that they should see some action in.
“They are going to get an opportunity,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “I don’t think it would be fair to the players if you bring them in on tryouts and not let them play in some exhibition games.”
Being at camp on a tryout basis is nothing new for Cullimore. The 14-year veteran is doing it for the third straight year, having done so with Detroit in 2007 and Florida in 2008. He eventually wound up signing a one-year deal late in October with the Panthers each time.
While Cullimore says it can be an uncomfortable position not being under contract and unsure of what the next few weeks may hold, being given a shot is the most important part. He hopes he can stick around Orange County with his latest chance presented by the Ducks.
|"The Ducks were a team I thought would do well in the playoffs last year and they did," said Calder (right), who played the last two season with the Kings. "They showed they can play. Hopefully, I can get in here." |
“It’s a good team and it would be a good place to play,” Cullmore said. “That is what you look for when you are a player. This is my third year in a row doing this and it is different. It can be a little tough. But the guys and the coaching staff are good here. They make players feel a part of it. If you want to be a part of a team, you have to put yourself out there.”
A member of the Kings the past two seasons, Calder has seen plenty of the Ducks from the other bench. The nine-year pro is now vying for a permanent spot on the other side of the rivalry.
“It’s a great organization,” said Calder, a left winger with 292 career points. “The Ducks were a team I thought would do well in the playoffs last year and they did. They showed they can play. Hopefully, I can get in here.”
Whether it’s a teenager or 30-year-old among the 49 players with the Ducks in camp, it makes no difference – it’s all a battle to remain. “It’s been a good experience,” Calder said. “If I fit in, I fit in. It’s something I want to be a part of. I have to work hard and play my game.”
Said Holland, “I’m doing the best I can. That is what I’m here to do. I’m just here to play my game. Hopefully, they like what they see. I can just control what I do out there on the ice. The longer I’m here, the way better it gets.”