WINNIPEG -- This was the first year that Winnipeg Jets development camp had two scrimmages during the week, and Logan Stanley made sure to make his final skate at MTS Iceplex count before heading home to train.
Stanley scored two beautiful goals during today's game, helping Team Blue to a 6-4 win over Team White. For Stanley, it was a sign of the comfort that had been growing all week.
"I think I was a little bit nervous when I came out for the first practice and the stands were full of fans," said the 6'7 defenseman, who scored five goals with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires this season. "It's been an awesome week and the nerves definitely went down as it went on."
Kevin Cheveldayoff watched the game from above the ice surface, as he has all week at MTS Iceplex. Stanley's performance, even in early July, only made the Winnipeg Jets general manager more excited about Stanley's future development.
"He scored a couple nice goals today. He's got that ability in him. He's a big player, moves well, has a bomb for a shot," said Cheveldayoff. "He's a guy that's going to continue to grow into his body, grow into his frame, grow into his game. There's lots of room for development there, and that's what makes him a real exciting prospect."
Thanks to the quality selections Cheveldayoff and his team have made at the NHL Draft since 2011, Stanley isn't the only prospect to be excited about.
Jack Roslovic, a first round pick in 2015, scored twice and had four points in Tuesday's scrimmage. Add to that, the overtime winner from Erik Foley the same night, Kyle Connor 's speed throughout the week, and the quality play from other prospects as well, and Cheveldayoff has a lot to look forward to.
"As exciting as it is, it's still a time consuming process. Development doesn't just happen overnight. These guys, it's gratifying to see the year over year maturation of these players, and see what they're like," said Cheveldayoff. "You look at a guy like Logan Stanley, and you just think back to an Adam Lowry , what he was like at 18-years-old and how much of a different person he is from a physical and mental standpoint.
"The difference that a player is from 18, to 19, to 20, to 21, the process happens at different rates for different people. Look at what Jack Roslovic did these couple days here. It's a testament to the work they've put in and the growth that's in their game."
Growing is exactly what Connor wants to do, as he prepares for his first NHL training camp. Even after a season at the University of Michigan that ended with him on a 27-game point streak and as a Hobey Baker finalist (among many other conference and NCAA awards), Connor says he needs to prepare for the rigors of the pro game.
"I think just being physically ready. Just try to come in a little bit heavier than last season. Not heavier, but just more muscle, and just be ready for the season," said Connor, who took a lot out of Wednesday's practice ran by Paul Maurice.
"It was really valuable. I learned a lot as a player of what to expect come training camp," said Connor. "He kind of really sets the tempo for everybody. He makes the pace in practice that much better."
Those situations are exactly what development camp is about in Cheveldayoff's mind. Whether those interactions between prospect and staff member are on the ice or off, it's valuable time spent learning more about each other.
"That's what this week is about. It's not necessarily all about what's on the ice. It is summer hockey, so to speak, in a lot of regards," said Cheveldayoff. "The coaches get a chance to see the players up close on a more intimate setting than training camp. For some of the college players they don't get an opportunity to come to training camp. So it's really the only opportunity that everyone gets to do some things with them."
With development camp in the rear view mirror, the prospects will go their separate ways to focus on training and preparing for the coming season. While Connor's goal is to add on muscle, Stanley wants to get quicker.
"You always want to keep getting better and keep improving," said Stanley. "I just have to go home and keep working on my skating and my foot speed. Come back in September ready to go."
So while the short-term goals may be different depending on the prospect, the long-term goal remains the same.
"Just focus on what you can control," said Connor. "Don't worry about where coaches are slotting you, just give them a reason to keep playing you out there."
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com