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Canes Ramp Up Intensity on Second Day of Training Camp

Five takeaways from the second day of on-ice activity

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

If 8:45 a.m. on Friday was an early wake-up call for the first day of training camp, imagine what 8:45 a.m. on Saturday after the first day of training camp was like.

Is "rise and grind" still a thing?

Here are five takeaways from the second day of on-ice activity at Carolina Hurricanes training camp.

1. Upping the Physicality

It wasn't by design, but the physicality in camp seemed to ramp up on Saturday morning. In particular, a drill that featured two forwards jockeying for position in front of the net against a pair of defensemen got bodies banging.

"Guys are competing," defenseman Haydn Fleury said. "It's a pretty deep camp roster, probably the deepest since I've been here."

Fleury was noticeably one who upped his physical game, something he knows he's going to need to carry into the regular season with a chance to solidify his position as a full-time NHL defenseman.

Video: Fleury: "Got to keep building each day"

"There's no question this is a big year for me," he said. "I need to take a step, help this team win and contribute on an everyday basis."

I wouldn't expect to see the physicality dip much from here, especially once the guiding hand of camp stirs in the competitive ingredients of exhibition games and looming roster cuts.

"I want to see intensity all the time," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Really, right now, it's more getting familiar with what we're trying to do system-wise. The first few days have kind of changed over the years. Now, we're trying to get our systems in place. Then, we'll heat up the battles and competitions in games. That's when we want to see guys do their thing."

2. Mrazek's Headgear

Petr Mrazek is rocking a new mask thanks to David Gunnarsson, best known as DAVEART, a prolific NHL mask artist. It's a sharp-looking lid, and it's already been battle tested, thanks to a shot off the stick of Erik Haula that caught Mrazek high on Saturday. The impact of the shot left Mrazek with a slight cut at the top of his nose, right in between his eyes, but everyone and everything - including the relationship between the new teammates - is all good.

In other headgear news, Mrazek had custom hats made for the locker room. The black hats, custom created in the Czech Republic, feature paint splatter-like white strokes with the Hurricanes' secondary logo front-and-center. Each player's number is scrawled next to the warning flag mark, while their initials sit in red above the right ear.

I'm now on the fashion beat.

3. First Impressions of Haula

Speaking of Haula, we've gotten our first on-ice look at one of the newest Hurricanes in these first two days of training camp. There is only so much you can glean from practice drills, but Haula doesn't seem to be hampered by a knee injury that ended his season in early November 2018. He's super speedy and, as Mrazek found out, has a blazing shot. Jordan Martinook referred to Haula as a "rocket ship" at Media Day, and that seems to be pretty accurate.

Video: Haula: "Everyone has been great towards me"

"He's certainly confident in what he's doing. He's enjoying himself. You can see that," Brind'Amour said. "He brings that energy. A real positive guy. That's all good. What little we've seen so far, he certainly has a flair about his game, and hopefully that translates to a good season."

4. Claesson Joins Camp

The Hurricanes made a late addition to their training camp roster, bringing in free agent defenseman Fredrik Claesson on a professional try-out contract (PTO) for the time being. The 26-year-old blueliner has played in 150 regular-season NHL games with Ottawa and the New York Rangers since 2015. He has totaled 26 points (6g, 20a) and 50 penalty minutes.

Claesson didn't skate with the Hurricanes on Friday but was on the ice with Team Passion on Saturday.

Video: Brind'Amour: "Getting guys familiar with the system"

"He definitely brings a different element than what we have right now. A little insurance there with a guy who's been around for a while," Brind'Amour said. "Seems like a pretty down-to-earth guy. I think he's just something different. You can never have enough good defensemen. We picked up another one, which can only help us."

Depth is never a bad thing, and neither is competition. The Hurricanes have both in spades on the blue line.

5. The Latest on Injuries

Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who underwent surgery on his left shoulder in early May, has skated without contact following the group practices on the first two days of training camp.

"I don't expect him to be ready for the start of the season," Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell told me last week. "It just depends on how things go for him. There's no reason to rush him back in game one or game two. It's a long season. If we're going to go deep, we're going to need him. We'll be very patient."

Defenseman Chase Priskie, who signed with the Hurricanes as a free agent in late August, left Friday's skate with an undisclosed injury and, after further evaluation by team doctors, is now considered "week-to-week."

"I don't think it's as bad as we feared, but obviously he's going to be out for a little while, anyway," Brind'Amour said.

Up Next

Shortly after Saturday's camp sessions wrapped, the Hurricanes sent three players back to their respective junior clubs, trimming their roster to 48. Team Passion is first up on Sunday at 8:45 a.m. followed by Team Pride at 10:45 a.m. Drop by PNC Arena to check out the action (yes, practices are open to the public!) or stream training camp live on Twitter via @CanesNHL.

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