The Carolina Hurricanes’ annual Prospects Development Camp wrapped up on Saturday with the Summerfest Celebration, which featured a prospects scrimmage and shootout among other fun events in front of an energetic crowd of 4,000 at PNC Arena.
Here are some notes, quotes and observations from what we saw on the ice today.
-- Echoing last year’s theatre of Noah Hanifin signing his three-year, entry-level contract in front of the fans in attendance, the Hurricanes did the same this year with first-round picks Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier.
“It’s pretty cool,” Bean said. “It’s definitely a first-class organization, and I’m really grateful to be a part of it. It’s a pretty special day for my family and I. I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
“It was a nice thing,” Gauthier echoed. “With a development camp, I didn’t think there would be that many people here. It was pretty exciting. Fans were cheering for us.”
This is, of course, another step in the journey to becoming an NHL player. Now Bean and Gauthier will take with them the knowledge and tools for training this summer and coming into camp looking to make a lasting impression on the coaching staff.
“I’ll try to get bigger, faster and stronger and come to camp in the best shape I can,” Bean said. “There are a lot of first-class guys here, and I’m pretty lucky to be in the spot that I am.”
“They should have the mindset that they’re coming here to camp trying to make the team,” head coach Bill Peters said. “What we’ll do is evaluate it as it goes and do the right thing for them in their long-term careers and the right thing for us to make sure we’re competitive when we get out of the gate in the regular season.”
-- Continuing my tradition of throwing my support behind the losing team, I liked Team Red heading into the scrimmage with the likes of Bean, Gauthier, Haydn Fleury, Alex Nedeljkovic and others on their squad.
It was a 0-0 game through 15 minutes of 4-on-4 play and even into 3-on-3 action.
“Me and David [Marcoux] are pretty happy so far,” joked Canes goaltending consultant Curtis Joseph.
“I thought the goaltenders were outstanding early,” Peters said.
Predictably, 3-on-3 opened the action up a bit more. First-rounders Bean and Gauthier hooked up for the first goal, with the former finding the latter for a top-shelf snipe and a 1-0 Red lead. It was a 2-2 score heading into the shootout, where White pulled away to a 6-3 victory.
“It was great. I liked it,” Peters said. “I enjoyed the whole week.”
“3-on-3 isn’t the most friendly for goalies, but at the same time, it makes for a good opportunity to come up with some big saves,” Alex Nedeljkovic said. “All four of us made some pretty big saves out there, so it was a lot of fun.”
-- Nedeljkovic performed highway robbery on his Niagara IceDogs teammate Josh Wesley in 3-on-3 play. Wesley one-timed a tape-to-tape pass from Andrew Poturalski, but Nedeljkovic dove over to deny the scoring bid with his paddle flush to the ice.
“It was a good show today. There were some good goals and some good saves,” Nedeljkovic said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Not to be outdone, Callum Booth had a nifty snag of his own, as he dove across to glove down a floater.
-- Camp invite and Raleigh native Josh Wilkins stole the show in the shootout, as he pulled a spin move and deposited the puck five-hole for the goal.
“10,” Peters said when asked to rate Wilkins’ goal. “That’s good enough for me. I’ve been impressed with this kid.”
-- Who else impressed Peters and his staff?
“I think a lot of guys did a lot of good things,” he said. “The pace we play at now – even in development camp – compared to two years ago is noticeably different. The size of our players is noticeably bigger; they’re big guys, but they still skate and haven’t given up the ability to have skill.”
Indeed, so. According to Mike Sundheim, the average drafted player at camp in 2012 was 6-foot, 177 pounds. This year: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.
-- That’s the end of a long but informative week for this group of 27. With them, they take away on- and off-ice lessons that will help them as players and as people as they continue to grow in the Hurricanes’ system.
“It was a lot of fun. Meeting the new guys and everything was a blast,” Wesley said. “To be able to come in and know a bunch of the guys already, it’s always a blast coming down here.”
The goal for all of these young men is to one day be in the Hurricanes locker room as an NHL player. For the development camp rookies and veterans, they now know what that’s going to take.
“A lot of hard work. It’s definitely not going to come easy,” said Wesley, who will this year begin his professional career. “It’s a long road ahead. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Just work on anything I can, anything they tell me to work on, just keep improving on my everyday life.”
That does it for Prospects Development Camp, as the 20-plus hockey players again scatter across the globe to continue their summer training regimens.
It was a fun week, and hopefully you had as much fun as this little guy.
Though camp is over, there will be plenty more to come on CarolinaHurricanes.com in the coming weeks, including a feature spotlight on some of the camp attendees and the newest additions to the Hurricanes’ staff. If you missed any of our coverage throughout the week, you can dig back through it here on the web, in our video player and on all of our social media properties.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email