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Prospects Development Camp: Day 2

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
It was back to PNC Arena for the second day of Prospects Development Camp. An early morning bus shuttled the group of 27 from their hotel to the rink where they would spend the balance of the day. Closed morning on-ice sessions featured skills work in two groups, after which the prospects received an off-ice leadership seminar.

The group was back for a full team practice in the evening. Here are some notes, quotes and observations from that skate.

-- Perhaps as to be expected on day two, everything was a bit more crisp and in-sync. Players are beginning to understand what’s expected of them, and the more time they spend with each other, the more chemistry is developed.

Of course, by the end of the 45-or-so-minute skate, you could tell the group was a bit winded. After traveling on Tuesday, it’s been a long couple of days for these kids, but they are battling through it.

“It has been a very tough week. We are all tired, I think,” said Janne Kuokkanen, selected by the Canes in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. “The speed is very fast now.”

The week is, of course, busy by design. It’s a crash course in becoming a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, a chance to assess the progress of returning players and impress upon the first-year players what it takes to realize their dreams of playing in the NHL.

I asked Kuokkanen, a Finnish-born forward who was present in Buffalo for the draft and remained in the United States to train in the weeks leading up to camp, what he hoped to take away from the week.

“A lot of good advice. We had a couple of lessons and a lot on the ice,” he said. “We are getting a lot of information here. I’ll take all that I can.”

And who better to learn from than a handful of NHL greats?

“It’s amazing,” he said. “They are smart guys with smart advice. I’m very happy that I can listen to them.”

-- A couple of player-based observations from tonight.

Julien Gauthier, discussed at length both here and here roofed a shot glove-side high on Callum Booth at one point. Simply put, it was sick. I imagine that’s a big reason why he scored 41 goals last season in the QMJHL.

“I want to shoot the puck as much as I can. I’m a big guy, and I’m not afraid to drive hard [to the net],” he said yesterday. “Driving the net, shooting the puck and using my speed. I don’t need to deviate from my game. I need to focus and stick to what I can do best.”

Shortly after that, Alex Nedeljkovic robbed Warren Foegele on the doorstep. Nedeljkovic was sprawled out in the crease and turned away Foegele with a desperation glove stop. Much like the Gauthier goal, it drew a response, both on the ice and in the stands.

“It’s been pretty intense. Practice was pretty high paced – it was a mid-season practice and workouts this morning were pretty intense as well. We did a lot of different things. We learned some stuff too,” Nedeljkovic said of the camp’s first day. “It’s been a long and busy day, but it’s been good, been educational.”

Nedeljkovic has been injured the last two summers and unable to attend development camp. In fact, in his 2014 draft year, he participated in training camp and the preseason – and he’s just now a development camp “rookie.” He’s set to begin his professional career this season.

“Obviously it would be huge to play in Charlotte and to get the opportunity to get called up maybe once to Carolina would be amazing. [My goals] will come when the season gets here,” he said. “Right now it’s just focusing on off-ice, building strength and getting conditioned for the season.”

Colleen Hamilton penned a piece earlier today on Nedeljkovic, the season he had and the immediate future in front of him.

-- As he said yesterday, head coach Bill Peters took in tonight’s action from the stands in order to get a better individual assessment of the camp’s attendees. Charlotte Checkers head coach Ulf Samuelsson seemed to be doing the bulk of the on-ice instruction and joining him were Glen Wesley, Curtis Joseph and Derek Wilkinson.

Much like Peters did yesterday, Samuelsson didn’t spend much time at the whiteboard and preached speed throughout the drills.

-- Forward Nicolas Roy didn’t skate today. He was a bit under the weather, and his status for Friday remains undetermined. Roy turned heads with the season he had in the QMJHL, as he led the league in goals with 48 and totaled 90 points.

“He’s a big kid who has tremendous hockey sense. He’s very good around the net, and that’s how you score 48 goals,” said Hurricanes Video Scout and Assistant to the GM Darren Yorke. “Next year, he’ll be considered for the Canadian World Junior team, and he’ll continue on that progression that he first had when he was a first-round pick. … We’re very happy to have him.”

You can read more about Roy and the Hurricanes’ 2015 draft class here.

***

By comparison, Friday’s schedule will be a bit lighter. There will be more on-ice activity in the morning, which will be streamed live on CarolinaHurricanes.com and from which we will bring you more notes, quotes and observations. After lunch and some more off-ice seminars, it’s off to Durham for a Bulls baseball game. First-round picks Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier are slated to toss out first pitches.

A full schedule and additional information regarding Prospects Development Camp and Summerfest can be found here.



Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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