I've kinda been waiting for someone to just come out and give their thoughts on the Camp, especially among the ones who were there all 4 days. Guess I'll go ahead and do it.
Hopefully this goes well, since it's the first time I've posted something on here and I've got to get used to the system...
Okay, the Pro Orientation camp, obviously, was this week, and I'm lucky enough to live less about a mile from the Mills, and was able to attend all 4 days (including sitting around almost 3 hours before the Scrimmage on Saturday). So, I think I'll go ahead and give some thoughts on some names that stood out.
Jay Barriball: Barriball was someone that I came in without much expectation for, as I thought his lack of size would really hurt him against a deal of bigger more physical players, but over the first 3 days, he was my pick for the most impressive forward on the Blue team. His passing skills were great, and he was finding the corners of the net with more regularity then anyone else I noticed out there, and I don't think he played badly on Day 4 to say the least either. While he is undersized, I think his skill level is high enough that once he leaves Minnesota, he'll have a solid chance to make something of himself in the NHL.
Lars Eller: Eller to me was a mixed bag, though his talent level wasn't exactly hidden. His skating ability was clear, as he was one of, if not the single fastest person on the ice, but he seemed to have some problems stopping during some of the drills on day 2 (at least the drills that were in front of my section), and him coming of the injury meant he didn't get to do much on day 3. Still, his shot looked strong, and assuming the falling thing isn't a constant problem. I think Eller is basically ready to get playing time, though I imagine he'll still spend most of next season in Peoria
Anthony Peluso: To say I came in with little to no expectations for Peluso in this camp would be an understatement. After doing some research on him, it seemed like he was being type cast as a prototypical enforcer role. Peluso is known as a defensemen by trade, but looks more to be a RW if he gets to the higher levels of hockey. I think the best way to describe the way Peluso performed in camp would be this. Either on day 2 or 3 (their starting to blur together) the Blues did a drill which was basically a game of keep away. Every player was given a puck, and they were to skate around in between the blue lines, trying to knock other player’s pucks past the blue line to eliminate them. Well, in the 2nd time around the drill, it came down to 3 players: Erik Johnson, Ian Cole, and Anthony Peluso. Peluso calmly got Johnson’s puck out of the zone when Johnson made a move at Coles, and used his superior strength to out muscle Cole and eliminate him to win. I would be willing to write this off as an aberration, but in the first time they did this drill, he made the final 3 as well. That's mighty impressive puck control exhibited by an enforcer. Combine this with just how collectively solid he looked all week, and I'd say Peluso's stock certainly went up over the course of the week.
Kristoff Berglund and David Warsofsky: I feel a little dirty bumping this two together, but basically my impressions of them were the same. They are both undersized, but really hard workers with good offensive instincts. Despite their size neither of them looked afraid to mix it up in order to get people of the puck. They looked as good as you could hope for defensemen their size.
Ian Cole: I'd say Cole looked to be one of the elite players in the camp, which is exactly what I'd hoped for. He has great speed, he showed a good shot when needed to use it, and he made intelligent passes, and most importantly, his ability on the defensive end was really impressive. To me, Cole looked like an NHL defensemen. The question still remains if he is going to stay with the Irish, or jump ahead and sign with the Blues. I'm starting to wonder if the Blues are holding out on signing another defensemen waiting for Cole's decision, because to me, he is the type of player that would be on the NHL roster getting playing time from the first minute he got here. We currently have a need for a 6th defensemen, and he'd fill it quite nicely.
Brett Ponich: What can you say about the big guy? No offense to Brett, but I wasn't expecting him to be anywhere near as solid as he was. I was expecting some tall lanky awkward kid that would look like he was years and years away from the NHL, but honestly, he held his own out there with some really good players. Blues management have said he surprised even then with how he looked out there, so that's a big statement from the team that felt like his talent level was worth a 2nd round pick when nobody else did. First thing I noted was his skating. Hockey's Future called it his biggest weakness, but I honestly didn't see a bit of that. Admitted, he wasn't the best skater out there, but for a guy his size, he looked basically as good as one could hope. He also looked really good on the defensive side of the puck, as I don't think he was caught out of position much if at all during the scrimmage. His offensive game seems to be a work in progress, but I can certainly live with that. Offense isn't the reason I'm excited for Ponich. Sure, we have a need in the NHL as of this second for an offensive D-Man, but we have a ton of those guys in the making. I want Ponich to become a monster. I want him to be feared. I want him to turn into a defensive machine that makes opposing forwards dread getting in front of the net. And while he's certainly not there yet, what he showed this week really makes me think he could end up being that guy. And that's all I wanted. He wasn't up with Johnson, or Pietrangelo, or Cole, and probably not even with Berglund, Warsofsky, and Fast. But he showed me more then I could have hoped for at this point.
Erik Johnson: While Johnson didn't play in the scrimmage, he was involved in the first 3 days, and wasn't red-jerseyed either. And he looked like a No.1 overall pick should look. Looked perfectly fine for most of everything with no effects from the injury I could tell.
Alex Piertrangelo: While this camp was great for players like Ponich and Peluso (And a lot of others that I don't have a good enough memory to go into serious detail about), I think this camp might have did more for Pietrangelo then anyone else. Because I think it basically put Alex (much easier to type, I think I'll stick with that) in a position that his placement for the Blues next year is rather secure. While it was already his to lose, I think it would now take a huge drop off for it to get to that. I got a chance to meet our resident scouting supreme Tommarows Blues on day 3, and he pointed out to me that Chris Pronger, who a good deal of Blues like to compare Alex to, wasn't an overly physical player when he first got into the NHL. It was in fact a point of complaint among fans that he didn't use his size enough. That seems to be the complaint with Alex now, and I think it's something he will get, it's kinda just a matter of when. Well, if the practices and scrimmage were any indication, the when might be really soon, as he played the part of someone who knew he was just physically better then anyone else on the ice out there. Now it's just a question to see if that carries over to the NHL.
Notes I don't have a good enough memory to really go into detail on
Oshie was indeed seemingly above everyone else, but I'm not sure if that has more to do with everyone else lacking, or Oshie just flat out being better right now then he was at the end of last season
The rest of our draft picks in attendance (Shattock, Shields, and Tardy) each looked impressive, most notably Shattock who I almost put up in there with a big bold marker
Palushaj wasn't looking bad before he was out, though he didn't look remarkably good either.
All of the goalies looked rather good, but none of them stood out. That's good news for Karpowich and Berra, but not the best news in the world for Jake Allen
McRae, Livingston, and Hjalmarsson looked good enough that they certainly should be in the above category, but I can't remember anything notable enough to put up there. Let’s just say they all looked really solid and all are in that "should develop into NHL players" area.
TJ Fast lived up to his name.
Aaaaand that's a rap.