Here are some thoughts from training camp.
Keep in mind these are just my impressions and that I don’t have the eye for scouting like the excellent ICE management and staff.
Camp – For the second year in a row the club is going to have some very, very tough decisions on their final roster as there will be some prospects good enough to play in the WHL who will not make the club as there are not enough spots available.
Last Cuts 2011 – Luke Philp and Jesse Wood-Shatz were the last 2 cuts last year and are not assuming they have spots this year as they have been very impressive at camp.
Imports – Until you see them in person you are never sure what you get in the Import Draft but the ICE have to be happy with their 2 new forwards from the Czech Republic. Petr Vesely is a smaller type forward with great speed and is creative. Jakub Prochazka has good size and shot. Neither seems to be shying away from the physical game.
Overagers – I’m sure I’m not alone in guessing it’ll be Joey Leach and 2 forwards taking the 3 20-year-old spots. Drew Czerwonka is not skating at camp (injury) and the team has not announced his timeline yet. Czerwonka and Brock Montgomery both have the grit and offensive potential, Elgin Peace and Dylen McKinlay have the speed and skill. The ICE are in a good spot as they have luxury of keeping the players to fill the roles they need the most.
Goalies – Mackenzie Skapski has looked really sharp. Wyatt Hoflin is expected to make the club but both have to continue to earn their spots and not take anything for granted. It’ll be interesting to see if the ICE go with 2, 3 or 4 goalies in the preseason.
Defensemen – With 6 returning blueliners at camp there is a real battle for the final spot(s). 17-year-olds Tanner Faith, Kyle Krabben, Matthew Thomas and 16-year-olds Jake Dube, Jordan Steenbergen, Joseph Leonidas, Matthew Murray are some of the prospects that have been noticeable at times but there it feels like there are spots ready for the taking if someone wants it it.
Forwards – With 2 20-year old forwards and returnees Eric Benoit, Levi Cable, Sam Reinhart, Jon Martin and Jaedon Descheneau, means there will be 6 news faces this season. Summer acquisition Jordyn Boyd looks to be a good fit and when you add the 2 imports and the 2 last cuts from last year that equals only 1 open spot. Collin Shirley and Douglas Morris have been all over the scoresheets. Carter Sawicki and Ryley Risling could also get longer looks. 19-year-old Stefan Nicholishen dominated during the Prospects sessions against the much younger players and it’ll be interesting to see him against the veterans.
Unlisteds – Over the years there have been players make the team that were never selected in the Bantam Draft. Montogomery, Cable and Benoit are current examples while John Neibrandt and Luke Paulsen also earned spots at camp in recent years. Nicholishen, Morris, Sawicki, Mathew Alfaro are some of the players trying to duplicate that storyline.
97's - Led by 1st round pick Troy Murray the 15-year-olds are at their first WHL camp. As Director of Scouting Garnet Kazuik said at the Bantam Draft and at the beginning of Training Camp, there is a lot of size in this group.