Day four of Wild Development Camp commenced on Friday morning with players getting a bit of a break from the physical grind and routine of the first three days.
After two days of on-ice work with coaches and a scrimmage on Thursday night, players broke down into smaller groups on Friday for sessions with skating coach Andy Ness and shooting coach Scott Bjugstad.
Players skated in three sessions, with groups broken in two — half working with Ness on one end of the rink and half with Bjugstad on the other. Each player worked 30 minutes with Ness before switching ends and working with Bjugstad.
“A lot of the stuff that we do right now is teaching and explanation,” Ness said. “It’s not about just running through drills, it’s about trying to teach them. They video everything and give guys explanations written out so they can use that when they go back to wherever they are from.”
Ness, in his sixth season helping the Wild, worked players on a variety of different skating techniques, including drills designed to help players improve balance, their stride and playing on their edge.
“You see a big difference in players who have been working with Andy over the years,” said forward Alex Tuch. “There is a lot of speed and power that goes into his teaching and everything he does here at development camp helps a lot.”
Since players are divided into smaller groups, Ness and Bjugstad are afforded more opportunity to provide player-specific instruction. What works for 5-foot-8 Sam Anas may not work the same for 6-foot-6 Jordan Greenway.
“I think it’s always important guys for guys to understand shooting,” said Wild Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir. “[Bjugstad] does a great job working on form; how do you release the puck, whether it’s a quick snap shot, whether it’s off the backhand or the forehand.”
In addition to form, Ness and Bjugstad break down the science of both skating and shooting. Ness uses iPad technology to help players understand how they are skating and what they can do to get better.
Players also got a crash course in what kind of stick could help make their shot even better. The ever-changing science involved with sticks is an important lesson for players that may not know — or had even thought about — in the past.
“Every year, they make a little adjustment to the sticks, as far as kick points, how the curve works, where do you load the puck up, how do you shoot; all these different things and a lot of these guys have no idea,” Bombardir said. “It’s just starting them to think about, ‘How do I shoot the puck? Am I shooting it the right way? The form that I use? Is this the right shaft for the way I shoot, for how tall I am?’ To me, that’s a great thing for them to start working on their shot that way. It’s easy to just go out there and shoot, but to do it the right way and with the right form is really important.”
With two days remaining in camp, players will participate in a 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday before a final scrimmage on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center. Coaches plan to make the scrimmage as close to a game-type situation as possible, with a morning skate scheduled several hours beforehand.
The Sunday scrimmage is set to begin at 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public.