Dev Camp Day 1

In many ways, the first day of Nashville Predators Development Camp is like the first day of school.

The excitement is palpable as one-by-one, members of the Predators organization not seen under the same roof in many months step out onto the fresh-cut ice at Centennial Sportsplex, skate blades sharp and smiles beaming.

The teachers, an extensive makeup of coaches, trainers, specialists and guest speakers are eager to impart their wisdom onto the next generation of Predators talent.

The pupils, who range from third-year camp veterans to first-year draft picks, are eager to learn.

There is, to be certain, plenty of learning to be done.

Over the course of the week, each of the attending prospects will discover what it takes to compete and thrive at the NHL level, and more importantly, what ‘The Standard’ is for those who wish to don the Predators Gold and Navy.

“There’s lots of different directions on what ‘The Standard’ is,” Predators Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development Scott Nichol said. “It’s how you prepare during the year, how you prepare in the summertime… We take a lot of pride in Nashville in that the culture is to our standard. And I think it's a really good thing that we can build off of. If the guys are dragging one day and they open their book that we give them, they can be like, ‘OK, am I up to the Standard? Am I choosing the right food? Am I working out correctly? Am I communicating with my coaches?’ I think it's a great motto and it's a great life lesson to live by.”

Poised to make his professional debut with the Milwaukee Admirals this season, returning development camper and 2023 sixth-round pick Austin Roest already has a head start on what’s expected from him and his fellow prospects in the to come and the grueling months that will follow.

“‘The Standard’ is just about using the resources that they have here to try and get as much out as you can,” Roest said. “It'll be a lot easier to do that. It's obviously my second year and I'm a lot more comfortable; I know a lot of the guys. So for me, it's kind of just taking what I got out of last year and trying to learn more.”

Returning campers will not only be expected to continue furthering their own development by taking advantage of Nashville’s resources, but in setting an example for the week’s newer players as well.

“Maybe they're not in a leadership role in college or junior, but this gets them in a leadership role among their peers,” Nichol said. “So that's what we like to see. We like to see the confidence, just the way they carry themselves, how they communicate with the staff. A lot of these players are young kids and they're in a new environment and they're trying to learn a lot of new faces, but just your everyday pleases and thank yous, we appreciate… And again, that goes back to ‘The Standard.’”

One of the several new Predators prospects already exceeding in that regard is Andrew Gibson, who arrived in Nashville via trade with the Detroit Red Wings last week.

While learning to navigate a new city and a sea of new faces, Gibson is also hoping to familiarize himself with the Predators mantra before he returns to the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds in the fall.

“I just want to prove myself here,” Gibson said. “It's a new spot and they haven't seen me as much as Detroit has. I was traded for and I take that as a compliment and want to show them that I am worth it. I want to thank them and show them how thankful I am by working as hard as I can to get [to the NHL].”

Nashville’s newest draft picks - all eight of whom are attending this year’s Development Camp - are eager to prove themselves too over the course of the week.

“Pro-level habits are kind of everything,” third-round pick Miguel Marques said. “We're treated really well around here and the players all want to make it to the pro level, so I think that's kind of the biggest thing, is the pro mentality. And that's something I'm picking up.”

As much as there is to learn, camp should be personally fulfilling too.

After all, each and every one of the players who stepped onto the ice on Tuesday deserved their coveted invitations, and each and every one of them deserves to take it all in.

“Being here, it's kind of like a dream come true,” Marques said. “Being a little kid wanting to grow up and play in the National Hockey League - and finally being able to put that jersey on - it's pretty special.”

Development Camp continues at Centennial Sportsplex through Friday, before the Future Stars Game finale caps the week off at Ford Ice Center Bellevue on Saturday.

Click here to view a full camp roster and click here to view the full schedule.

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