Charles-Olivier Roussel is one of many 2009 draft picks attending his first NHL camp this week. Selected 42nd overall last June by Nashville, the 6’1 offensive defenseman was probed, timed, and measured on Saturday in preparation for the first on-ice session today.
One of the youngest members of the 2009 draft class, Roussel is finally 18. He’s joined in camp by Shawinigan teammate Pierre-Alexandre Vandall, 19, who is here on a tryout.
Roussel displayed good passing and poise today, which he’s well known for. He had 44 points in 68 games last year in the QMJHL.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Roussel soon after he came off the ice today in Nashville.
HF: What do you think of training camp so far?
COR: I think it’s been great. The older guys are very nice to us. It’s my first camp and the guys who have been here before tell us what’s going on. So it’s been really good. The pace is good also on the ice. Everyone’s going with intensity.
HF: So this is a good way to spend your birthday, huh?
COR: Yeah (smiles), very nice day. It’s the thing I dreamed about all my life and now I get to be here on my 18th birthday, so it’s actually the best birthday of my life.
HF: Have any of your teammates done anything for you for your birthday?
COR: I don’t want to tell it to many people, but Vandall and (Gabriel) Bourque, guys who know me, they said happy birthday and did little stuff, nothing big. I don’t want everybody to know. I just want to remember this moment and this birthday.
HF: How did you do on the fitness testing yesterday?
COR: I think I did pretty good, actually. I came here to summer [conditioning] camp and we did the same testing. They gave us a sheet and asked us to improve [on those scores] and I improved on everything so I was very proud of myself. I worked hard this summer.
HF: What did you improve on the most?
COR: I think it was body fat. I changed the way I was eating. All the off-ice things — strength and all that stuff — I improved on almost everything.
HF: What food did you have to give up?
COR: It wasn’t a special food, but sometimes you eat too much and you eat when you’re not hungry. Nothing was too difficult [to give up], I don’t often go to McDonald’s and all that stuff.
HF: Ice cream?
COR: Yeah, actually ice cream, yeah I had to stop that. Good point (laughs).
HF: What’s your weight now?
COR: 196-198. Last year I was 200, but I turned it into muscles instead of — I was not too big actually, I was OK, but I just had to lose like two percent, and I did it. It wasn’t a big deal. Since I’m young, my muscles are not as expanded as the older guys.
HF: Is your dad here at camp? I heard some French speakers in the stands.
COR: Yeah, he came with Vandall’s dad and Bourque’s dad. They did a road trip for our first pro camp. They wanted to see it. They had no work so they came here. And also my dad wanted to be here for my birthday.
HF: Do you think you’ll have a good team in Shawinigan this year?
COR: Actually I do. It’s going to depend on us — we have good players, young players and veterans, and if we stay focused and do what we have to do, I think we’ll have a good team.