Skilled, speedy forwards, Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson, made a splash during the Preds 2014-15 season when they suited up for a combined eight games in the NHL, just a few months removed from being drafted by the club. Despite still being two of the younger players at Nashville’s 2015 Development Camp, the pair of European wingers enter the week with a certain air of swagger and expectation with the thought they are on the cusp of signing up for a full-time role with the team from Music City.
“Arvidsson is so dynamic speed-wise, and for a smaller player with how the new NHL is - you’re not allowed to hold and hook - the way he can dart in and out of traffic, he plays a very brave game for such a little man,” Predators Director of Player Development Scott Nichol said. “He also loves to shoot the puck; he gets a lot of attempts. And he’s also won. He’s spent several seasons in Sweden and won championships there, so he’s got that pedigree of winning and he knows what it takes.”
For Fiala, who even logged minutes during the Predators Western Conference Quarterfinal series in April, the next step in his mind is contributing points and minutes at the NHL level starting this fall.
“I just wanted to come here early to Nashville, get to know the city better and practice with [Predators Strength and Conditioning Coach] David Good and do what Nashville says to make the team next year,” Fiala said. “Everybody has goals and my goal is to make the team this year. I’ll do everything for that and go 100 percent to make the team next year.”
Joining the highly touted forwards in his fourth time attending Development Camp, Jimmy Vesey also promises to be a standout at the week’s festivities.
“Hopefully he’ll have another good season at Harvard, and it’ll be a seamless transition into the NHL, but there’s still a lot of more work needed,” Nichol said of the 22-year-old Vesey. “They don’t just hand out roster spots in the best League in the world. That’s what we’re trying to get into their heads, is that if you’re 18 years old or 38 years old, you’ve got to continue to develop and get better.”
The Golden Helmet:
Each day on the ice, a single player will don a bucket a different shade than the rest in honor of their work and leadership among their peers. Nichol instituted the 212 Degree Award prior to this year’s camp to help some of the “veteran” attendees at the camp in guiding their younger teammates.
“It’s at 211 degrees (fahrenheit) that water is hot on the stove, at 212 degrees it starts to boil, produces steam and you can power a locomotive with it,” Nichol explained. “That’s our award we’re handing out. They get to work out with [a gold jersey] that day and then on ice they use a gold helmet. If you’re the best of that day and you put the commitment in and you push yourself over that one degree more and level, then you should be proud of yourself.”
A Preds 2012 third-round pick, Vesey accepted the initial recognition at this year’s camp and will pass the golden gear following Tuesday’s activities.
“Coach Nichol gave [the gold helmet] to me yesterday as kind of a veteran of the camp, and he’s leaning on me to be a leader with some of the younger guys,” Vesey said following his on-ice conditioning test Tuesday morning at Centennial Sportsplex. “I’m going to give that helmet away tomorrow for the hardest worker of today, and they’re going to wear that then…Coach Nichol gave me that helmet right away, so I think guys are kind of looking up to me a little bit this week and I’m just trying to be a good leader for them.”
Keep an eye out to see the skater sporting the gold bucket throughout the camp to see who is making an impression among his fellow prospects and the Preds coaching staff.
“Every day it’ll be somebody different, so it’s pretty neat for these kids to strive to be the best out of all of them,” Nichol said.
On-Ice Drills and Activities:
While there are plenty of off-ice plans in store for the Development Camp participants, it’s the on-ice sessions where the prospects get to show their stuff. The practices during the week, and a scrimmage on Saturday, afford an opportunity for the players to make an impression on the Preds coaches from the NHL and American Hockey League levels.
“The main purpose is to show what the Predator Way is all about; the foundation to our culture,” Nichol said. “We just want to open their eyes to what an NHL camp is like and what it takes to make it to the next level… We’re introducing them to the staff and getting them a little more comfortable, but also saying that the guy next to you is in competition for your spot.”
Once on the ice, there’s much more to analyze than just some simple stickhandling and shooting. Not only are the skaters able to see where they stack up against their fellow competitors, but they’ll receive some feedback to utilize throughout the coming months leading into next season, wherever they may play.
“There won’t necessarily be a lot of skating, but we’ll do a lot of video work with them and get a lot of data on them,” Nichol said of the upcoming Wednesday practice. “We’ll send that back with them for the summer, and even over the course of the season, if he makes a nice, inside-out move to the middle and shoots, we’ve got that video of him. It’s great to show that, and him working on it for 15 minutes before practice every day. That’s what you’ve got to do.”
The end goal for the 30-plus participants is to one day play in the NHL. There’s always room for improvement, and it’s sessions like these that aid in the process of developing a work ethic and making an impression.
“When you make it to the NHL, you don’t just put your gear on and practice,” Nichol said. “These guys are constantly working on their game, and that’s what we’re trying to get through to these guys - you have to evolve every single year.”
Yakov Trenin, Anthony Richard and the 2015 Draft Class:
Two weeks ago, seven hockey players officially joined the Nashville Predators organization when their names rang through the BB&T Center at the 2015 NHL Draft. Nearly 900 miles north and two states away, five members out of the collection of four forwards, two goaltenders and a defenseman will be making their extended first impression at Development Camp.
Pinned as a future first or second line center for Nashville, Yakov Trenin’s large frame looked powerful as he skated around cones during Tuesday’s conditioning test. Anthony Richard, a 91-point scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2014-15, flew around the rink during his first time on the ice in Nashville. The team’s director of player development says he wants to see more of the same from the new group in Preds Gold.
“Yakov Trenin, our first pick in the second round this year, a big centerman, he’s out doing the skating tests (today) and it’s not easy,” Nichol said. “What I like to see is the guys push through being uncomfortable. It’s real easy to just shut her down and finish the drill, but I like to see guys on the verge of pushing their bodies over to that next threshold where they haven’t been. I think that shows a lot of character.”
Third-round pick Thomas Novak left the camp on Monday to prepare for his first season at the University of Minnesota, but the remaining duo in his Preds draft class will be worth keeping an eye on, including Vesey’s Harvard University teammate Tyler Moy.
Used Equipment Sale, Scrimmage at Ford Ice Center:
On the Camp’s final day, fans are invited to a long list of free, family-friendly activities at the Ford Ice Center. Featuring a scrimmage at 11 a.m. (CT) on the newly-renovated ice - now showcasing the NHL 2016 All-Star Weekend logo - the Saturday event will serve at the can’t-miss send off to the week.
- 9 a.m. - Season-ticket holder entrance to Used Equipment Sale
- 10 a.m. - Park activities open/General public entrance to Used Equipment Sale
- 11 a.m. - Nashville Predators Development Camp scrimmage
- 1 p.m. - Prospect autograph session
- 1:30 p.m. - Free public skate
Other events throughout the day include:
- Inflatable games
- Interactive games for kids
- Nashville Food Trucks (Arti’s Food Truck, Sehrt Seafood Co., Lil Choo Choo BBQ and S’mores Love Truck)
- Appearances from Preds personalities