The Hurricanes made their first cuts of training camp immediately after the second red-white scrimmage Wednesday night, reassigning junior hockey forwards Drayson Bowman, Justin McCrae, Harrison Reed and Chris Terry.
The only other junior hockey player in camp, 2007 first-round pick Brandon Sutter, will remain in Raleigh for the time being.
Of the four players being reassigned, Drayson Bowman, this year’s third-round pick out of Spokane of the Western Hockey League, made the biggest impact. He looked good in the Hurricanes’ lone exhibition game last Sunday and drew praise from his coach after playing in both scrimmage games.
“I thought Drayson Bowman was good,” said Laviolette. “He played in the first exhibition game with us, and he displayed a lot of skill and poise with the puck.”
Also remaining with the team is a multitude of players who have already seen significant time in Albany or are likely to do so in the coming season.
One player clearly trying to earn more time with the big club next year is forward Ryan Bayda. Often used as an injury call-up by the Hurricanes for a game here and there due to injury over the course of his career, Bayda has impressed in camp thus far.
He had a nice assist on Justin Williams’ game-tying goal in the exhibition opener against Washington, and set up Erik Cole with a pinpoint pass through traffic in the second intra-squad scrimmage on Wednesday.
Scoring two goals in Wednesday’s scrimmage was newcomer Jeff Hamilton, although he was the first to admit that they weren’t exactly of the highlight-reel variety.
His first goal was deflected in, and the second he earned near the end of the game when Rod Brind’Amour won a faceoff too cleanly, sending the puck flying backwards into an empty net after his white squad had pulled goaltender Kevin Nastiuk for an extra attacker.
Since a goal has to be credited to somebody, Hamilton got credit for losing the faceoff to Brind’Amour.
“Obviously we got some bounces tonight,” said Hamilton. “I don’t know how many got deflected, and obviously one we didn’t touch but it still went in.”
Both scrimmages ended up being quite physical, with many players using the scrimmages to showcase that facet of their game.
That culminated in a fight between forward Kirk MacDonald and defenseman Tim Conboy in Wednesday’s game. No need to get carried away, however, as it was certainly more of a case of each player fighting for a job rather than fighting each other.
“If you’ve got a guy that plays a grinding, banging game, that’s a chance to do it, where if you’re doing skills in practice you might not get that opportunity,” said Laviolette.
One might think it would be difficult to play that physically against your own teammate, but there seemed to be little hesitation in the two scrimmages.
“I don’t think it was that hard because I thought they did a pretty good job of it,” said Laviolette with a smile.
“It’s understood, and there’s no hard feelings out there,” said Hamilton. “It’s just everybody playing hockey and getting ready for the season.”
Although it was the younger players who were trying to prove themselves, many of the established NHL veterans still shined in the two games. Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Frank Kaberle all got on the score sheet at some point, and Cam Ward looked solid in 30 minutes of Tuesday’s game by shutting out the red team and eliminating any scoring chances on the rebound.
We can’t just go out there and lollygag around the ice,” said defenseman Mike Commodore of the established Hurricanes players. “We want to get ready to play and we have something to prove too, we want to prove that we worked hard this summer and that we’re ready to go this year.”