The Nashville Predators concluded the 2013 Development Camp on Saturday morning in front of hundreds of fans crammed into the practice rink at Centennial Sportsplex. In some areas, fans were packed three or four deep trying to catch a glimpse of the annual end-of-camp scrimmage. The week was full of excitement as many fans got to see big name players Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones compete against fellow Predators prospects for the first time. The week gave the front office and coaching staff a chance to further evaluate the upcoming talent and decide which prospects would be attending September’s training camp.
After of week of intensive training, both on and off the ice, as well as dinners, appearances, and meetings, the 31 prospects were split into two teams and played two 20-minute periods with a shootout to cap off the week. Team Blue claimed the Martin Gelinas Cup with a 9-5 win over Team Silver. 2010 first round draft pick Austin Watson led the charge for Team Blue with three goals. Hometown product and brother of former Predator Blake Geoffrion, Sebastian Geoffrion, added two more goals for Team Blue. Forsberg, Zach Budish, Pontus Aberg, Miikka Salomaki and Anthony Bitteto all netted goals of their own.
“It’s a good group of kids, good workers. There’s a lot of talent,” Nashville Predators Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty said. “You see the culture of the organization and the types of players we’re bringing in here. That shows all the way down through the young kids.”
“Everyone’s been great to me, getting me into the group,” Forsberg said of his first Predators camp. “Most of the guys have been here before. So, I’ve been enjoying it.”
“It was good, really professional and really fun,” said fellow first timer and 2013 sixth round pick Emil Petterson. “All the guys are nice. It’s my first time over here and the culture is a little bit different than Sweden, but I like it. I was a little nervous at first and my puck handling didn’t go well, but later on I felt very good.”
While the camp featured exciting new players, the foundation of the camp was rooted in players like fellow 2009 second round picks Zach Budish and Charles-Olivier Roussel, who were attending their fifth development camp.
“Mainly, I knew what to expect,” Budsish said of being one of the most veteran players in camp. “It was pretty similar to the past couple of camps in that we’re on the track, skating, having a lot of meetings and working out. It’s a busy week, for sure. It’s a grind. You have to take care of your body away from the rink, just making sure you’re getting rest and proper food.”
“I felt good,” Roussel added. “I knew what to expect coming in here so I worked out so I could be in good shape when I came here. But, the Predators have been doing a job developing new stuff, so it’s not the same thing every year. There are always good players, new guys, so that gives us an extra push to work even harder because they’re coming in and pushing us.”
In addition to being more aptly prepared for the week, the older players selflessly used their experience for more than personal performance.
“I think it went well. Like I said, it’s a tough week and I think I performed well,” Budish said. “I had a good week and tried to be a leader out there since it was my fifth camp and there are guys coming in that just got drafted a week ago, so I just tried to help them out. I think it was a productive week.”
“You learn new stuff every time. You get closer to the organization,” 2011 second-round pick Magnus Hellberg said. “It was maybe a little bit more relaxed this year. I know a bunch of guys here from last year and from playing in Milwaukee. I think there are seven Swedes here, so we’re a pretty good group of Swedes. We’re from the same country and for some guys it’s the first time here. I think it’s good for them. They’re more comfortable being with Swedish guys because with some guys it takes a while to get used to the language. I’m just trying to take them under my wings and make them feel comfortable since it’s my third year. It’s a good group and it’s awesome to be here.”
“We take pride in the camp every year, but having some of those high rated guys gives us a little extra spunk,” Kealty said in summation. “But overall we were happy with the whole group. The work ethic, the skill level we have, and they’re good character kids. It was a real good week overall.”