It’s just after the Fourth of July holiday weekend, and the thermometer is climbing beyond 90 degrees, a norm for a standard and sometimes swelteringly humid North Carolina summer.
But inside PNC Arena, it’s much cooler thanks to the sheet of ice that lives on the floor, and for the next week, that will be the focal point of the Carolina Hurricanes’ annual Prospects Development Camp.
After arriving in Raleigh over the weekend, the group of 29 prospects, which includes Noah Hanifin and seven other Canes 2015 draft picks, spent much of day one away from the ice. This morning consisted of medicals and training at EXOS at Raleigh Orthopaedic which was followed by a grocery tour just after lunch.
Monday evening marked the first on-ice session of camp. Here are some notes from the full team skate.
-- This was fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin’s first time in a Canes sweater on PNC Arena ice.
“I thought for our first day it was pretty good. It was a little rusty at first, but I think we came together. It should be a lot better moving forward,” Hanifin said. “I just have to work hard. That’s the biggest thing. There are a lot of great players here that compete really hard.”
“It’s unlimited potential there,” head coach Bill Peters said. “He’s a big, strong guy who skates well and has a good understanding of the game. I think he has a real bright future.”
Hanifin and Haydn Fleury, the seventh overall pick from a year ago, skated side-by-side a few times. That’s an intriguing pair, especially with their incredibly similar builds.
“The D as a group, there are a lot of big guys in there that look like they are puck-friendly and skated well as a group,” Peters said. “Noah did a good job. Haydn Fleury looks bigger and stronger.”
Hanifin and Fleury are also roommates for the week.
“I’ve been talking with him a lot,” Hanifin said of Fleury. “He said it’s obviously a tough week but you learn a lot here. It’s pretty important to take everything in.”
-- Speaking of big bodies on the defensive end, Jaccob Slavin and Tyler Ganly are poised to begin their professional careers, now having signed their entry-level contracts recently. As I noted last year, Slavin has really filled out his frame, and Ganly – though it wasn’t evident in a friendly team practice – plays with an edge to his game.
“I was really impressed with Jaccob Slavin. Wesley had good feet today,” Peters said. “Lots of good things out there. It will be interesting as the week goes along to see the progress.”
-- Tonight was also our first look at Sebastian Aho, who was not in South Florida at the draft. Aho, selected 35th overall in the second round, isn’t as small as he may sound on paper (5-foot-11, 172 pounds). He has a decent on-ice frame, and he skates pretty well. He’ll be one to watch as the week progresses and at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.
-- This year marks goaltending coach David Marcoux’s first Prospects Development Camp with the Hurricanes, and with four goaltenders in camp, he’s got plenty to command his instruction. He was out with the goaltenders prior to the team practice and was able to initiate a good bit of one-on-one teaching. That’s an invaluable addition to this year’s camp.
-- Other coaches present included Peters, assistant coaches Rod Brind’Amour and Steve Smith, director of forwards development Cory Stillman and director of defensemen development Glen Wesley.
Peters had been with the Canes’ organization just about a month when last year’s Prospects Development Camp took place, so, needless to say, he was a bit more comfortable this year.
“Much more comfortable, and there are some familiar faces on the ice, too. Some of the drills we did today were similar to what we did in last year’s development camp on day one, so some of the kids have seen it,” he said. “I just thought today was a better day, probably, and once the ice gets a little better, too, things will look a little smoother.”
-- Not present on the ice today were forward Steven Lorentz and defenseman Brett Pesce. Their availability for the balance of the week remains up the in air.
Tuesday’s schedule features more on-ice activity, both in the morning and evening. The morning session, which begins at 10 a.m., will be streamed live on CarolinaHurricanes.com and through our official mobile app. The evening session, which begins at 5:30 p.m., is open to the public.
A full schedule and additional information regarding Prospects Development Camp and Summerfest can be found here.