There are plenty of fresh faces on the ice this week during Predators Development Camp - two of them just happen to have a bit more experience than anyone else.
Sebastien Bordeleau and Rob Scuderi - both hired by the Preds as forward and defense development coaches, respectively, less than 10 days ago - are the two newest members of the organization.
Stated in the simplest terms, their task is to help Nashville's top prospects reach their ultimate goal of one day skating for the Predators. Bordeleau and Scuderi are more than qualified to take on the challenge, too, with both of them boasting successful NHL careers. Although their playing days are now over, they still have plenty left to offer to the next generation.
"[Around the time I retired from playing at age 37], I was trying to teach my son how to play, so I kind of developed a good coaching ability toward my son and some of his friends and teammates," Bordeleau said. "I really enjoyed that, and I said maybe this is something that I'd like to do. It's still like coaching, but it's different. It's more individualized, and I really enjoy that."
"With my position, it's not to be overly technical with the players since they have coaches at their respective levels, but it's more of a mental approach," Scuderi said. "It's about knowing how to attack the game again like a pro and knowing what you're supposed to do and when you're supposed to be doing it - those are the nuances I hope to help guys with and clear some hurdles up so they can put their best foot forward."
With many of his students born after the year 2000, Bordeleau's highlights don't jump into the minds of many Preds prospects, but the former forward is an original member of the Preds, appearing in 72 games during their inaugural season and recording 40 points during that span. He skated in 146 total games with the Preds, part of a professional career as a player that concluded in 2012.
For years, he's worked with junior players and NHLers in the summertime to help them improve, and he also filled a role with the Canadiens organization at the minor league level with similar responsibilities. Now, he's utilizing all of those experiences back in Nashville once more.
"I'm looking at their shooting habits, their skating habits, how can we improve them in every little aspect," Bordeleau said. "It's a game of details, so every little detail, you want to make sure they master it as much as possible so they don't have to think when they're on the ice. Instead, they can just react and be good with their own instincts, but to do that they need to master all their skills."
Video: Scuderi joins Preds as defense development coach
A two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Scuderi patrolled NHL bluelines for 783 games over 12 seasons. He retired from playing after the 2016-17 campaign, and after a couple of years away from the day-to-day aspects of the game, he served as a development coach for the P.A.L. Junior Islanders, a junior hockey team located in Hauppauge, New York.
That experience showed Scuderi he had a passion for helping players improve and advance to the next level, something he now hopes to do with a club known for drafting and developing from within.
"Given the history of the team, they've had a lot of guys come through the system, a lot of draft success, and I would just like to continue that trend," Scuderi said. "Hopefully, I can help these guys get out of their own way sometimes and do what it takes to be a professional."
One of those defensemen Scuderi will be keeping a close eye on this week is Dante Fabbro, one of three players at development camp who already has NHL experience. After only two days on the ice together, Scuderi has seen what Predators fans witnessed last spring - Fabbro is ready for the spotlight.
"He has a lot of maturity," Scuderi said of Fabbro. "When he goes back, he has a presence about him that he's not overly rushed. He's doing things fast, but he's not rushing at the same time, which can often lead to bigger mistakes. His passes are crisp, he skates up well, he's always in the right place at the right time and those are the little things you may not notice, but in a game, they make a big difference… He's the type of guy that has a lot of details in his game, on the puck as well as off the puck, which is again just a sign of a good maturity."
Video: Bordeleau returns to the Preds as development coach
Every player at camp may not be to Fabbro's level quite yet, but that doesn't mean they can't get there one day. If Bordeleau and Scuderi have anything to do with it, there will be a few more prospects who become NHL regulars soon.
They haven't forgotten those who helped them along the way, and now, it's time to pay it forward.
"I want to get those guys to the NHL," Bordeleau said. "I'm going to try with my ability and what I know and my experience to guide them to make it to the NHL… and it's all about the progression. It's not always a sprint to get to the NHL. You want to get there eventually, but once you're there, you want to be there physically, emotionally and with your skill set as well."