Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.
Let’s get to it.
What aspect of camp is the most intimidating to the prospects? – Liz O. (@emohrberg)
If there were any intimidating aspects, those fears were assuaged as soon as the prospects stepped foot inside the Hurricanes’ dressing room.
“Everyone is here to just get better and have fun,” goaltender Daniel Altshuller said. “It’s a good experience, and everyone is just trying to benefit as much as they can.”
“You just come here to have fun, get to know the guys and show what you got,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin said.
For first-time camp attendees, camp invitees and third-year “veterans” alike, intimidation isn’t exactly a factor because, ultimately, these guys are all hockey players and that’s what they’re here to do. And, in the process, they learn from some of hockey’s great minds.
“Everyone makes you feel really comfortable,” defenseman Haydn Fleury said.
“I was really nervous before, but once I got here, the guys welcomed me in right away,” defenseman Josh Wesley said. “The guys that have already been to this camp made sure that the first-timers were OK, so it was a really easy [transition].”
From my vantage point, the ropes course seemed pretty intimidating, but the group largely enjoyed it, especially the zip line finale.
“As soon as I got up there, it was absolutely awesome,” Wesley said. “Everything was a lot of fun, and I’d love to do it again.”
What are the different returning prospects’ personal improvement goals? – David D. (@s1apshot)
For most of the prospects – returning or otherwise – the main focus is to get stronger and improve fundamentals.
“I just want to keep getting stronger,” a six-foot-2, 203-pound Fleury said simply.
This camp also presents a unique learning opportunity. For those on the precipice of making the jump to becoming a professional hockey player, they learn what needs fine-tuning in advance of training camp. For the first-timers, they learn what it means to be a member of the Carolina Hurricanes and what it takes to become a professional. Players learn from their peers and see how their skills compare, and they learn from the experienced and bright minds of the coaching and development staff.
The goal is that come Saturday, when the group scatters back across the globe, each player will take with him the information necessary to develop into a better hockey player.
“It’s just a learning curve to see what you’re up against and see what it takes to be a professional,” forward Warren Foegele said. “After playing in prep school, you don’t get to see players like this or this high-intensity competition. It’s a great experience to see other guys and see how I compare to them. I’ll take in as much as I can.”
“A lot of learning: we learn what to expect at the next level, how hard you have to work, how well you have to prepare for each and every drill whether it’s on or off the ice,” defenseman Kyle Jenkins said. “I’m just looking to put a little dent into what hopefully becomes my pro career.”
“You get a good foundation for what we’re about as an organization. They also learn from Pete Friesen and about some of the nutritional stuff they’ll go through,” head coach Bill Peters said. “If you’re paying attention and want to get better, this is a good week to do that.”
Question for any of the camp invitees: How important is it for you to get this chance to prove yourself to the Canes? – UK Caniacs (@UKCaniacs)
If a club likes what it sees, camp invites can turn into contracts. We saw this firsthand last year with Sergey Tolchinsky, the undrafted and undersized Russian that captured everyone’s imagination. A month after attending the Canes’ development camp (he had also attended the Rangers’ camp), he signed a three-year, entry-level deal with Carolina.
So, in short, getting the opportunity to prove yourself – especially if you are someone like Tolchinsky, who was projected by many to be a mid-round draft pick – can be vital.
Of the group of invitees in town this year, some draw a particular interest. Forward Alex Aleardi has already inked an AHL deal with the Charlotte Checkers. Defenseman Bryan Moore and goaltender Logan Halladay join Canes’ draft pick Josh Wesley as former Jr. Hurricanes and North Carolina-raised players vying to become the first homegrown prospects to play in the NHL.
Are Canes website items cleared through the NHL prior to posting? And who are Terrell Williams and Ken Preston? – Carolyn G. (@goCanes_score)
Tracking the Storm blog posts, including this 24th edition of Tweetmail, are not subject to NHL review, though I do wonder what the league office would have thought about a collection of Spongebob GIFs. News releases also do not have to be cleared through the league prior to posting, but, of course, we cannot post or comment on, for example, the signing of a player until it becomes finalized.
Terrell Williams and Ken Preston are premier news release writers whose identities will forever be shrouded in mystery; they are the men behind the news curtain, if you will.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you want to revisit LOST’s 20th episode of season three entitled “The Man Behind the Curtain,” you can reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.