Now that Party in the Park is behind us and Jim Nill has dropped his annual July hockey bomb, Dallas Stars fans have a long, long summer in which to ruminate over every last possibility for a season that seems a long, long way from here right now.
So why not revisit 2016 Prospect Development Camp? Here are a few random observations from the Thursday sessions:
- It's easy to tell where Dallas is making its team identity. Fast skating and good stickhandling were everywhere at camp this year, from the team's own draft picks to the invited guests.
- What can be said about Roope Hintz? Two words: flapping jersey. His loping, even casual skating stride eats up space deceptively; he barely looks like he's working until his work is already done. If you think of him as Dallas' second first-rounder of 2015, you may not be wrong.
- Markus Ruusu looked confident in net; his major weakness (dropping too early and getting beaten five-hole) probably is something he can fix with coaching. Colton Point looks like a potential good-value pick; he's big and physical but makes most of his stops with good positioning. Invitee Dawson Carty plays a similar game and looked good in drills and practice.
- Denis Gurianov's skating stands out. His deep edges and explosive strides made it all the more surprising when he looked almost tentative on the attack at times. It's easy to guess that he could use a confidence boost after a fairly futile year in the KHL. The extra attention to his development needs that he'll receive in Texas should do him good.
- Scandinavians with soft hands and swift feet? Camp invitee Hampus Sjödahl joined draft picks John Nyberg, Fredrik Karlström and Jakob Stenqvist to demonstrate some of that Swedish hockey magic. When Rickard Oquist talks, the Stars listen, and the European scout we have to thank for John Klingberg doesn't seem to be coasting on that success.
- Michael Prapavessis also showed the skills of what appears to be the new model Dallas defender – quick skater, good passer, tricky shooter. He's coming off a great season at Rensselaer and looks ready to push for even more.
- Chris Martenet is indeed a Big Giraffe, noticeably taller than practically everyone except Riley Tufte and
- Speaking of Karjalainen, I spent a little time watching him, as the big Finnish blueliner is one of the true mystery men on the Stars' prospect list. He appears to be working on a very particular set of skills – his huge wingspan gives him an advantage with using the stick to disrupt plays and scoring chances, and he's not shy about it. Also worked quite a bit on making good first passes to puck carriers.
- The two Korean players the Stars invited to camp were noticeably fast and scrappy – good qualities to have, since both Yeong-Jun Seo and Sang-Hoon Shin would like to play for their nation at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Shin bodied the head-taller Karjalainen into the boards before barreling to the net for a goal against Desro, to the amazed cheers of the crowd.
Watching the prospects also gives you a renewed appreciation for the cut-above work of young pros like Devin Shore, Gemel Smith, Branden Troock, Cole Ully and Philippe Desrosiers. They provided a good point of reference for that extra effort the next level will require.
Did you get to attend the 2016 development camp? Use the comments to tell everyone what you saw.