Sixteen Predators prospects are in town for conditioning camp this week, and nashvillepredators.com is taking the opportunity to catch up with each of them and get their thoughts on last season, the Predators camp and more. Below is Part 3 of a four-part series that will continue this week.
Photo by John Russell
Acquired: Sixth round, 2005 Entry Draft
Team: Harvard (ECAC)
Q. How has camp been for you so far?
A. It's great. Everyone has been real helpful. It's kind of nice to get to know some of the players that you may potentially play with in the future. It's interesting with some of the guys from overseas. You have to help them out a little bit. It's been a good experience though.
Q. Did you know anyone coming in here?
A. Actually I'm rooming with Johnny Vigilante, who I actually played minor hockey with growing up and then I played one year at the U.S. National Development Program with under-17 year olds, so I knew him. And actually, it was kind of a coincidence I guess--I think they threw us together in whatever room--so I knew him a little bit. So that was kind of nice. That's a familiar face.
Q. How did you feel your season went this year?
A. The team had a pretty good season. Obviously we didn't have the end result that we wanted. We had a tough loss to Maine there. But I thought we showed a lot of improvement over the season. I think we kind of had a rough start in the first quarter or first half of the season. Toward the end of it we just really started putting the parts together and it just seemed like we were clicking everywhere.... I thought I had a decent season. I think I was in a slump there in the middle of the season for a little while. I guess I was kind of getting away from my game. I was trying to be a little bit too, I guess my coach said "Pretty." As a power forward I think I need to focus on the way that I generate offense is by getting in there and hitting people. And kind of showing the physical side. I think that's what helps my teammates. I know a lot of my linemates look to me to kind of create room for them. Once I started doing that we had a lot of success as a line and as a team.
Q. Does it encourage you to see Nashville pick some power forwards in this year's draft, that that's a need the organization is looking to address?
A. Absolutely. It's kind of a concern for players like myself that the new NHL is all about small players and quickness. But you also need guys that can be quick but there's also a physical aspect to the game. It's still hard work and it still has a grittiness in the corners. It's good to see that teams realize that's a priority too. I think every team needs a balance of both of those.
Q. How has the fitness testing been going?
A. Some of the bike tests were pretty tough. It's a good experience. It's nice to see guys that really don't even know each other until a couple days ago are kind of in there and rooting each other on and trying to help each other out. I think that's good because you can see there's a lot of chemistry already forming. There's a lot of team building, stuff like that. Obviously this camp is made to be educational toward training and stuff like that, but it's also to form friendships and team building.
Photo by John Russell
Acquired: First round, 2005 Entry Draft
Team: Guelph (OHL)/Milwaukee (AHL)
Q. Is this an important week for all the young participants here to bond?
A. It's good. You meet a lot of new friends here and those are the guys that you're going to be seeing around here for a long time. So it's good to establish good relationships with them early on.
Q. How hard is it not to want to make this Predators tomorrow--to be patient and let yourself develop and be ready for the NHL level?
A. Well, it's tough but I guess everyone would want to be here tomorrow if they could be, right? That's what all these steps are for, getting there as soon as possible but making sure that once you get there you're prepared for it. I think it's right to go through all the steps first and just want to get your feet wet at the start.
Q. What is your timetable?
A. It depends on how you progress, I guess. It's good jumping up with the AHL team, the [Milwaukee] Admirals. You gain experience from that. Each step really helps you out a lot.
Q. How do you feel your development went this past season?
A. I think it was good. We had a good season in Guelph and the Admirals obviously helped me a ton [when I came] up in the playoffs. I learned a lot there.
Q. How about the World Junior Championship experience?
A. That was big as well. You kind of see more guys your own age and where they're at. You can compare yourself against those guys. I played against other guys like [Teemu] Laakso and [Alexander] Radulov and other guys from the Nashville organization. It's always fun to do stuff like that too.
Q. Did you feel there was quite a bit of a spotlight on that event?
A. There always a big spotlight. Even moreso that it was in Canada with our Canadian team that had lots of highlighted players.
Photo by John Russell
Acquired: Seventh round, 2005 Entry Draft
Team: Djurgardens IF (Sweden)
Q. What are your thoughts on how your season went?
A. It was good. I played with Djurgardens in Sweden. I've been [learning there]. I think I played much better this year.
Q. What is this experience like, coming to conditioning camp?
A. To see the other guys here, everyone is so professional--skilled trainers. Everything is perfect here.
Q. What has been your favorite part so far?
A. Everything is good. No favorites.
Q. Are you getting to know the other guys here? Is the camp set up so you're forced to interact with your fellow prospects?
A. [I didn't know anyone here] before, but now, yeah. Everybody is very good. Wednesday afternoon we [had] some competition with climbing and stuff (at Camp Widjiwagan). It's very positive being here.
Photo by John Russell
Teams: Toledo (ECHL), Cleveland (AHL)
Q. What's it like to be invited to this camp?
A. It was neat. I went to the Canucks camp last year so I do have a bit of experience with NHL camps, but it's really cool. It's a little different going in June when the year doesn't start until September, but it's good to sort of get the summer off to a good start with conditioning and already starting to work hard.
Q. What are your thoughts on your most recent season?
A. It went pretty well. I played in the East Coast Hockey League. It was my first year there, rookie year. It went pretty well for myself and for the team. We won our division. It was a lot of fun and my first sort of crack at professional hockey. I felt like it was a success. Hopefully it leads to bigger and better things.
Q. Any activity or event at this camp that has been your favorite or that you're looking forward to?
A. Getting on the ice. But [the fitness training off the ice] is definitely neat. In the gym, working on things that maybe you're not used to and technique and stuff that's really beneficial for the summer.