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On-ice testing greets prospects on Day 1 of development camp

All 2017 draft picks in attendance for first skate

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

Welcome to Winnipeg.

All eight selections from the 2017 NHL Draft got their first impression of Winnipeg today, as the prospects performed on-ice testing at Bell MTS Iceplex on day one of Development Camp - with fans in the stands watching every stride.

"I knew it was going to be a little tough, but it was really tough the first day," said Kristian Vesalainen on the toll the testing took on Monday. "I'll try and get to know everyone in the Jets organization, and just get along with the guys, and work hard."

Vesalainen was selected 24th overall on Friday night in Chicago, and got to share that moment with his family and girlfriend, who traveled from Finland to see the 18-year-old's future take shape.

Now though, his family is back in Helsinki, and he's in Winnipeg experiencing his first camp. But he says he hasn't had much time to think, as the first activity got underway mere hours after he landed in the Manitoba capital around 3 pm CT.

"I think that's pretty cool how it all happened so quick, you don't have to think too much," said Vesalainen. "After the draft, I didn't really know what to do, and there were a whole lot of new things going on, so it was hectic.... The whole family said to just enjoy the moment and take everything from there. Try to learn as much as you can."

Video: DEV CAMP | Tucker Poolman


Though he won't be taking part in any on-ice activities during this week's Development Camp, Tucker Poolman is at Bell MTS Iceplex to take in the off-ice aspects of the camp.

Poolman, a fifth round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, is still recovering from the bi-lateral shoulder surgery procedures he had done at the end of March.

"I think the doctors told me four to six months, so it's a pretty broad scope. I'm happy with it so far, and I'm going to continue the next month or two here and see where it takes me," said Poolman. "I haven't skated. I just started holding a stick again. It's a slow process. In a month I should be able to get on the ice and start progressing from there."

The defenceman signed a one-year entry-level contract on Mar. 30, after his junior season at the University of North Dakota came to an end. The 23-year-old tallied 30 points in 38 games in 2016-17, and was also named National College Hockey Conference Defensive Defenceman of the Year, and selected for the All-NCHC First Team and All-NCHC Tournament team. This, after winning an NCAA national championship with UND in 2015-16.

Poolman says he has a ways to go recovery wise before he'll be ready for training camp in the September.

"My plan is to try and get as healthy as I can and see what happens in the fall," said Poolman. "I haven't skated. I just started holding a stick again. It's a slow process. In a month I should be able to get on the ice and start progressing from there."

Video: DEV CAMP | Brendan Lemieux


This week, Brendan Lemieux is taking part in his third development camp with the Jets, and the fourth of his young career.

But while the routines at the camp may be similar, Lemieux says he feels much different in this camp, thanks to some off-season changes to his training regiment.

"I just tried to get a little bit lighter. I've never had an issue not being lean, but I've gotten a little leaner," said Lemieux. "I'm just trying to be a bit quicker, lighter, and work on being more flexible and more open. Maybe not as bulky or as big as I have been in the past. So kind of going the other direction from what I always thought.

"Last year, physically, I felt strong enough and mature enough, but I didn't feel that I had that quickness that I need to have. That's what I've been working on."

The 2016-17 campaign was a "tough" one for the 21-year-old forward, who was injured at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton and missed training camp. Then, his American Hockey League season with the Manitoba Moose was cut short following another injury, which he revealed to be a broken foot, on Mar. 15.

Still, he was able to score 12 goals in 61 games, and says he wants to take on more of a leadership role at this week's Development Camp.

"Every time you learn new things about your game and yourself," said Lemieux. "You try to take on a little bit more of a leadership role being one of the older guys here. It's nice to know what you're walking into for sure."

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