The Carolina Hurricanes’ annual Prospects Development Camp drew to a close 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 from what we saw on the ice today.
-- Prior to the scrimmage, Noah Hanifin signed his three-year, entry-level contract in front of the fans in attendance. It was, for lack of a better term, a really cool moment that set the stage for an exciting conclusion to Prospects Development Camp.
“Yeah, it was pretty cool. It got a lot of attention, but I’ve got a lot of work to do,” a humble Hanifin said afterwards. “It was definitely cool to sign in front of the fans.”
Though signing his contract doesn’t guarantee him a spot on the Hurricanes opening night roster come October, he has committed to putting in the work necessary to make that a reality.
“I felt that I wanted to challenge myself again,” he said. “There are a lot of good defensemen here. Nothing is guaranteed. I’m going to put in a lot of work this summer until camp. I’m hoping I’m going to make it.”
“What I see is that there’s going to be unbelievable competition on the back-end between Hanifin, Fleury, Pesce, Slavin and all the returning guys,” head coach Bill Peters said. “The competition there is going to be unbelievably high, and we’re going to give everyone an opportunity to see who takes advantage of it.”
-- I liked Team White heading into the scrimmage. They were down 1-0 after the four-on-four session, but I liked their chances heading into the three-on-three, especially with the dynamic Sergey Tolchinsky with plenty of room to dangle. Sure enough, they jumped out to an early lead in the three-on-three before Red stormed back for a 7-3 victory.
“There were good plays throughout,” head coach Bill Peters said. “I thought everyone did a good job getting better as the week moved on. It was probably a by-product of them becoming more comfortable and settling down.”
-- Unofficially, we’ll call Sebastian “Sea Bass” Aho the first star of today’s festivities. The 17-year-old forward had three goals in the scrimmage, one of which was a snipe top-shelf.
“It was fun,” the soft-spoken Finn said. “I just tried to enjoy the moment.”
“I thought Aho was pretty good today. He might have had five points today in the scrimmage. He’s pretty good,” defenseman Haydn Fleury said. “I’ve played against him a couple times before this and got to meet him this week. He’s a real special player.”
Aho, selected 35th overall by the Hurricanes this June, will head back to Karpat of the Finnish Elite League for the 2015-16 season.
“He’s a real good player,” Peters said of Aho. “He knows what he has to work on: he has to get stronger and quicker, but his compete is very good. His skillset and vision are outstanding.”
-- Tolchinsky, of course, scored in the shootout on a move that prompted “ohhs” and “ahhs” from the crowd. Fleury tried his hand at this move again but didn’t connect.
“I did it one this week so I tried to do it again in front of all the fans, and I botched it,” Fleury said with a smile.
On Tolchinsky, Fleury had high praise.
“He’s greasy. He’s got some of the nicest hands I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Some of the things he can do with the puck – he went viral twice this week.”
“Tolchinsky was good,” Peters said. “He was good with and without the puck, which was encouraging.”
-- Ultimately, this week was about learning about and preparing for the next step, both in on-ice systems and drills and in off-ice lessons about social media, money, cooking and more. It’s an informative week with a medley of activities that, in the end, leave these young men with something more than they had when they arrived in Raleigh.
“We’re all here to work hard. That’s the main thing,” Fleury said. “We’re all here trying to get the same things accomplished. We all want to be NHL players one day. It’s pretty easy to bond when you all have the same goal.”
“I just liked the interaction with each other. I think they were respectful to each other and the process in each of the seminars they attended. They had good feedback,” Peters said. “It went the right way, I know that.”
That does it for Prospects Development Camp, as the 20-plus hockey players again scatter across the globe to continue their summer training regimens.
Though camp is over, there will be plenty more to come on CarolinaHurricanes.com in the coming weeks, including a look back on camp through the eyes of social media. We’ll also put the feature spotlight on some of the camp attendees. If you missed any of our coverage throughout the week, you can dig back through it here on the web and on all of our social media properties.