Someone let a girl in here! Nah, it was just me today at camp with the aforementioned Thrashers bloggers (and I almost forgot Rawhide, AKA Ben Tiller, from the AJC - it was nice to finally meet you!), and I managed to prepare some questions for a few of the guys.
When I say managed to prepare (and keep in mind that this is summer vacation) I mean I did 4 days of research of stats, compiled player statistical sheets, read every profile on Hockey's Future, took notes as to what these guys' strengths and weaknesses were, and wrote 4 questions each for 10 players that I wanted to talk to. So, yes, one could say that I went in there totally unprepared for any sort of interview. This was my only chance to talk to some of these guys, and I didn't feel the need to waste it.
The first player I talked to was Zach Redmond (if you're interested in hearing my inane questions, please, do listen - and then thank TimmyF from Thrashing About for the audio). Zach is a defenseman who plays for Ferris State. He was noted for his mobility, and he did not disappoint. I paid probably the most attention to him on the ice today out of all of the skaters. He is extremely fast, can poke away a puck in a heartbeat, and once managed to do a cool soccer move to kick a puck away from an oncoming player. For a 7th round pick in the 2008 draft, he looked fantastic. Quite frankly, he outperformed individuals who were drafted higher than he was. He looked to be trying to map the play in his mind while the offensive player was working, which flummoxed the other guy.
I asked him how he thinks that he would fit into Anderson's system. Zach is a puck moving offensively minded defenseman who was 6th on his team in scoring last year and who was also a +14, so he can score and he also can remember what position he plays. Zach said that he had not really spoken to Coach Anderson at length about specifics, but from what he had watched of us play, he feels like the style that is expected of the defense is something that he could fit extremely well into. He wasn't too positive about making the big club this year, but if he continues the way that he has been, he will make it in good time. He looked to need to put on a little weight, but not too much as he does not need to slow down - his speed is a major strength. When I asked him what he thought his strength was, he mentioned his stick skills. I would agree, though his foot skills weren't half bad either.
While some were crowded around Postma and quite a few other popular players, I decided to wander off the beaten path - and I honestly didn't think of any questions for Klingberg, either. Sad, I know. Anyway, I have an affinity for goalies and always focus on their skills. Ed Pasquale impressed me today, but he was not in the room for the questions. Chris Carozzi was, however, and I did have a few questions for him.
This was probably my worst Q&A of the day, because I didn't want to be insulting. Not in a bad way, but everything that I noticed today about his lateral movement was not stellar. When he dropped to the butterfly, he dropped. And stayed there. His push left to right (and vice versa) was not particularly strong and a few people scooted pucks past him because of that. Also, his glove hand was not nearly as quick a Pasquale's. Blocker/stick side he was perfectly fine. I didn't want to go up to Chris and ask him if he thought he needed to work on this, because he's the hockey player and I'm the dork with the computer. Thankfully, when I asked my canned "what do you consider something you need to work on?" question, those were the first (and only) two things out of his mouth. He said that he works with a trainer one-on-one practically constantly on fixing those issues and he knows that they're a problem. I find that comforting to know that he can recognize an issue and work very hard to correct it.
When I asked what he felt he had in common with Kari's style of play (weak glove side aside), he said that he feels that he has a strong ability to see where the play's moving and to react appropriately to prevent the goal. I noticed that he did not drop early on shots on him and he did try his best to move before as the puck was shot to block. This might be to compensate for his lack of lateral movement.
I posted the audio of the interview with Kane (and if anyone could please tell me the WHL's leading scorer last year, let me know so I can tell Hockey's Future), but one thing that struck me was the fact that he was a +51 last year. I asked him what he plans on doing to maintain that defensive responsibility in the NHL. He said that he realizes that one-way players are exciting and serve a purpose, but it's better for the team in general to make sure that you maintain a 2-way focus and be aware of every player on the ice. Something very specifically he said that he liked is that he has a responsibility to his coaches to be the best two way player he can be, because he knows that expectations for him are high and he does not want to disappoint. His family apparently instilled a great work ethic with him, because he seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to make the squad this year. My main concern would be weight - he needs to add a little bit more (again, not enough to slow him down because he is extremely fast) to maintain a competitive edge against some of the bigger guys that the league has to offer.
Needless to say, I did not get a chance to talk to everyone today that I wanted to - especially Ben Chiarot since I was scared I was going to fudge his name. Ben played with (though not on the same line as) Petro on the Ice Dogs of the OHL, and I wanted to ask him questions about his playing style and if he picked up anything from Petro. See, gotta work some Blues something in there somewhere.