With the NHL entry draft now out of the way, teams have changed their focus to the development of prospects in their respective systems. Training camp is still a couple months away, but for young players, development throughout the off-season is key to their chances of cracking an NHL lineup or turning pro with an AHL team. For the Ottawa Senators, things got started June 28 when 22 players congregated at Scotiabank Place for the annual development camp. The six-day camp (ending July 4) included on and off-ice training, physicals, fitness testing, conditioning and strength coaching, team-building, and even a specialized healthy eating seminar held by a culinary expert. The camp was lead by Randy Lee, strength and conditioning coach; Ron Low, goaltending coach and pro scout; Tim Pattyson, video coach; Shawn Camp, Saginaw Spirit assistant coach and assistant general manager; and Marc Power, power skating specialist. The development camp was capped off by two 3-on-3 tournaments and a mini award ceremony.
Of the 22 players attending camp, there were 13 forwards, seven defenseman, and two goaltenders. Fifteen players were returnees from the 2006 camp and three of the Senators four draft picks in 2007 were present. Seven players had previous professional experience with two having played briefly in the NHL. The NCAA was well represented at the camp with 10 players coming from the college ranks and two committed to colleges for next season. Four players played in the OHL last season, while the QMJHL and the WHL were represented by one player each. There were also two European players present, coming from Russia and Sweden.
The 22 players were divided into four teams (white, gold, black, and red). After the initial fitness testing, medicals, and equipment fitting, the camp proceeded with various on-ice drills and off-ice workouts focused on balance, stability, puck skills, technical skating, acceleration, agility, timing, endurance, flexibility, and strength.
The first 3-on-3 tournament took place July 1 with Team White – Ben Blood, Kaspars Daugavins, Shawn Weller, and Ilya Zubov – emerging victorious. Goaltender Ryan Daniels, who allowed only 12 goals, beat out his counterpart Brian Elliott. The second 3-on-3 tournament took place on the final day of camp and was attended by over 100 fans. Two games were played concurrently in opposite ends of the ice. A team had to clear the zone before attacking the net and offside rules still applied. Teams were only allowed to make substitutions while on offense. Senators mascot Spartacat also made an appearance and the tournament intensity increased when newly appointed General Manager Brian Murray came to observe. Team Black – Danny Bois, Erik Condra, Eric Gryba, and Matt McIlvane – came away with the victory after a suspenseful 12-man shootout, beating out Team White. Elliott made 11 consecutive saves before McIlvane put the puck past him to seal the victory. Elliott was stellar in the second tournament, allowing only seven goals. The other teams were Team Red – Nick Foligno, Cody Bass, Louie Caporusso, Tomas Kudelka, and Derek Smith; and Team Gold – Colin Greening, Josh Hennessy, Mattias Karlsson, and Pierre-Luc Lessard. Jim McKenzie, Jim O’Brien, and Brian Lee sat out for the tournaments with injuries, although Lee did participate in some on-ice drills.
Camp awards were handed out to Greening for Hardest Worker, while Bois and Hennessy were inducted into the Development Camp Hall of Fame for participating in camp and playing at least one game for the Senators.
Cody Bass, C
Last Team: Binghamton, AHL
Bass played on three different teams in 2006-07. He started the season as Captain of the Mississauga Ice Dogs, but was traded to the Saginaw Spirit in early January. After a disappointing playoff exit, Bass joined Binghamton for a brief stint, his second call-up in as many years. The native of Guelph, Ontario was a fourth-round pick of the Senators, 95th overall in the 2005 draft. With his junior career coming to an end, Bass signed a three-year deal with Ottawa and is expected to join Binghamton full-time for 2007-08. Bass also attended camp in 2006.
Camp Review: Bass had a terrific camp. He demonstrated his hard-nosed style of play and showed off a quick accurate wrist shot. His skating was effortless as usual and he was often one of the last players off the ice. Bass showed his feistiness and battled hard in the 3-on-3 tournaments.
Ben Blood, D
Last Team: Shattuck St. Mary’s, USHS
A native of Maplewood, Minnesota, Blood spent the 2006-07 season with Shattuck-St. Mary’s High School, the same school that produced superstar Sidney Crosby. Blood was the Senators last selection in the 2007 draft, 120th overall. The lanky offensive-minded defenseman is committed to the University of North Dakota, though it is not certain that he will attend this fall. He may return to Shattuck for one more year of development.
Camp Review: Blood was very noticeable throughout camp, and not just because of his size. He displayed a smooth stride and decent speed along with some deft stickhandling ability. He made several outstanding one-on-one dekes during the tournaments and scored a goal.
Danny Bois, RW
Last Team: Binghamton, AHL
Bois was the oldest player at the development camp and the most professionally experienced overall. Originally a draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, 97th overall, Bois spent the 2006-07 season with Binghamton and attended camp in 2006. He was an emergency call-up for one NHL game when Ottawa was struck by injuries. Though he saw limited action, he did make an excellent first impression challenging and holding his ground against NHL heavyweight Donald Brashear. The restricted free agent signed a new two-year pact with Ottawa and will provide depth for the team but will likely spend the majority of the year in the AHL.
Camp Review: Bois had a solid showing at camp, often looking like a seasoned veteran. He was a key part of his Team Black’s victory in the 3-on-3 tournament and was inducted into the Development Camp Hall of Fame. Bois showed some finishing ability during the 3-on-3 tournaments rifling several laser beams into the top corner.
Louie Caporusso, C/L
Last Team: St. Michael’s, OPJRA
The diminutive high-scoring Caporusso got special recommendation from Ottawa Director of Amateur Scouting Frank Jay. Ottawa selected Caporusso with their third pick in the 2007 draft 90th overall. Caporusso played for St. Michael’s of the OPJRA, despite being a draft pick of St. Michael’s OHL team back in 2005. Caporusso has much development ahead of him including an obvious need to bulk up his undersized 5’9 frame. He will attend the University of Michigan this fall.
Camp Review: By far the smallest player in camp, Caporusso held his ground quite well and even stood up to some solid hitting from much larger players. Still, it was obvious that his lack of size was holding him back. Caporusso displayed some nifty stickhandling and speed, but was easily over-powered when contact was made. He did show determination though in trying to battle through checks.
Erik Condra, RW
Last Team: Notre Dame, NCAA
Condra, a smallish Trenton, Michigan native, was a seventh-round pick, 211th overall by the Senators in the 2006 draft. After a brief stint in the USHL, Condra went to Notre Dame where he has spent the last two seasons. He still has two years of college eligibility left and will likely use it to continue developing. Ottawa has not yet offered Condra an entry-level contract and there are still several areas of his game that need improvement before he can turn pro. This was Condra’s second development camp appearance to date.
Camp Review: Condra had an average performance at camp and did not stand out. He displayed a good hard shot that found the back of the net on several occasions during the 3-on-3 tournament and he was a key part of Team Black’s victory. Condra showed a good first step and a terrific balance. For a smaller player, he handled himself quite well in the physical department during 3-on-3 action.
Ryan Daniels, G
Last Team: Saginaw, OHL
Daniels became the undisputed No.1 goaltender for the Saginaw Spirit in 2006-07. He was a workhorse goaltender, finishing second in the league in minutes played. Daniels, a returnee from the 2006 development camp, was a fifth-round pick, 151st overall by the Senators in 2005. Ottawa has not yet offered Daniels an entry-level contract and it remains to be seen whether or not he will be part of their future.
Camp Review: Daniels performed well in camp often displaying both quick reflexes and strong glove hand. He made several excellent reaction saves in the 3-on-3 tournaments and bested his counterpart in the first tournament, allowing only 12 goals. Daniels’ main weakness of over-anticipating on plays was visible at times, but he showed good lateral movement and instincts.
Kaspars Daugavins, LW
Last Team: St. Michael’s, OHL
Daugavins had quite an impressive inaugural season in North America. The third-round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2006 was selected third overall in the CHL import draft and finished second in scoring with the St. Michael’s Majors and sixth among rookies in the OHL. Daugavins appeared in 11 games for Binghamton at the end of 2006-07. Daugavins was signed to an entry-level contract and will compete for an AHL roster spot this fall.
Camp Review: Daugavins had a good camp. He was very active and always around the puck in the 3-on-3 tournaments, but he failed to display his scoring touch. Still, it was clear the Latvian star has talent and poise with the puck. Daugavins used a very interesting shootout approach in which he zig-zagged his way to the net, scoring once on three shootout attempts.
Brian Elliott, G
Last Team: Binghamton, AHL
Elliot was Ottawa’s ninth round pick, 291st overall in the 2003 draft. In 2006-07, he was the No.1 goalie for University of Wisconsin and posted excellent numbers. Upon completion of the NCAA season, which was his final college year, Elliott joined Binghamton and started eight games in the AHL. Elliott, who attended camp in 2006, is entering the second year of his entry-level contract. Elliott should challenge for the No.1 position in Binghamton this fall.
Camp Review: Elliott had a solid camp and stole the show in the second 3-on-3 tournament allowing just seven goals and stopping 11 consecutive shootout attempts. He was very good with the poke check spoiling several shot attempts with his stick. Elliott also displayed strong movement for a goaltender his size. He showed enthusiasm and competitiveness never giving up on a play. Elliott made several excellent kick saves in 3-on-3 competition and cut down angles well, making him difficult to beat on the initial shot.
Nick Foligno, C/L
Last Team: Sudbury, OHL
Nick Foligno continued to develop with the Sudbury Wolves in 2006-07 under the watchful eye of his head coach and father Mike Foligno, former NHL veteran. He was named alternate captain and led the Wolves to their second OHL final appearance in franchise history. Foligno, who attended camp in 2006, was Ottawa’s first-round pick, 28th overall in 2006. Had the Wolves not gone so deep in the playoffs, Foligno would have gotten his first taste of professional hockey with Binghamton. Foligno signed his entry-level contract with Ottawa and will compete for a roster spot this fall. If he fails to crack the NHL lineup, he’ll likely be a top player for Binghamton.
Camp Review: Foligno was one of the best players at camp. His work ethic and determination was displayed in true color as he was the first on and last off the ice every session. While he did not light it up during the 3-on-3 tournaments, Foligno still played very well making some excellent plays. He showed good skating ability, a quick hard shot, and solid stickhandling. Foligno was a cut above the rest of the pack and drew the attention of GM Brian Murray.
Colin Greening, C
Last Team: Cornell, NCAA
Greening, a native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, was drafted out of Upper Canada College in 2005, going in the seventh round, 204th overall to Ottawa. Greening was a year older than most prospects in his draft class. Greening played a year in the BCHL before going to Cornell University, where he spent the 2006-07 season. The freshman had a terrific year at Cornell and was invited to camp for the second time. Greening will continue his development at Cornell.
Camp Review: Greening showed he has a good amount of speed and the ability to switch gears quickly, but his puck skills were a step behind the rest. He did score a goal in 3-on-3 action, but didn’t show much chemistry with his Gold team counterparts as several passes missed the mark. Greening displayed a willingness to go to the net and play in traffic areas as well as a good hard shot, though he didn’t get to unleash it often.
Eric Gryba, D
Last Team: Boston University, NCAA
Gryba hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and was picked up in the third round, 68th overall by the Senators in the 2006 draft. After spending a year in the USHL, Gryba went to Boston University. He just completed his freshman year with BU and will return there as a sophomore. Gryba is still quite raw and needs more development, but his size and willingness to play physical should help him reach the next level. This was Gryba’s second time attending development camp.
Camp Review: Gryba was the most noticeable player on the ice based on size, but there was no real opportunity for him to demonstrate his physical prowess, which he has become known for. His foot speed looked to be above-average, but he was still a tad slow in one-on-one situations. Gryba showed decent puck skills and played well for Team Black in their 3-on-3 tournament victory. He even displayed some rare offensive skill, picking up a goal.
Josh Hennessy, C
Last Team: Binghamton, AHL
Hennessy spent the majority of the year with Binghamton and received several brief recalls. Hennessy was the only player at camp with more than one game of NHL experience. He has spent two seasons in the AHL and is in the final year of his entry-level contract. Hennessy should compete for an NHL roster spot this season. Failing that, he will be a top player and leader for Binghamton.
Camp Review: Hennessy was very impressive in camp. He often looked like a seasoned veteran and controlled the play during the 3-on-3 tournaments. Hennessy displayed an NHL-caliber shot that found its way to the top corner on numerous occasions. During the 3-on-3 tournaments, Hennessy rarely took a break as the other three on his squad rotated sitting out. Hennessy’s vision and awareness were a cut above the rest.
Mattias Karlsson, D
Last Team: Bofors, Sweden
Karlsson, a native of Orebro, Sweden, was selected in the fourth round, 135th overall by the Senators in 2003. Apart from coming over for the 2006 development camp, Karlsson has spent his entire hockey career in Sweden. He has played at the junior, the Allsvenskan (second level), and the elite level. His most recent stint, coincidentally also his most productive, was with Bofors in the Sweden Allsvenskan league. Karlsson’s best season did not go unnoticed and he signed an entry-level contract with Ottawa at the end of 2006-07. He is expected to compete for a roster spot with Binghamton this season.
Camp Review: Karlsson is surprisingly quite mobile for a player his size. He’s not fleet of foot, but he can move well and keep up with most players. His lateral skating seemed especially strong during certain drills. Karlsson was one of the better defenders during the 3-on-3 tournament using his long reach and good body positioning to keep players from going to the net. Karlsson also showed good passing ability and a decent shot.
Tomas Kudelka, D
Last Team: Lethbridge, WHL
Kudelka has made a smooth transition from the Czech leagues to North America. In 2006-07, he completed his sophomore season with Lethbridge, becoming a go-to defenseman playing in all situations. He had a productive season and improved his numbers in all categories. Upon completion of his WHL season, Kudelka joined Binghamton for a second stint in as many years. Kudelka signed an entry-level contract in 2006 and is entering the second year of the pact. He will compete for a full-time roster spot with Binghamton this fall. Kudelka participated in the 2006 camp.
Camp Review: Kudelka had a quiet, but solid camp, showing good poise with the puck making some excellent passes in drills and 3-on-3 competition. He also showed good lateral movement and a solid accurate shot. He was one of the few who played a physical game in the 3-on-3 tournaments dishing out several board-rattling bodychecks.
Brian Lee, D
Last Team: North Dakota, NCAA
Ottawa landed Lee with the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft. After finishing up his high school career at Moorhead, Lee went to University of North Dakota where he developed into a solid two-way defenseman. Lee has also been a mainstay on USA’s World Junior team, but often played a depth role. The former Associated Press Player of the Year signed an entry-level contract during camp and will turn pro this season. He will leave North Dakota and start his career with Ottawa if he impresses in training camp, or Binghamton if more development is needed. It was Lee’s second time participating in the camp.
Camp Review: Lee battled an injury throughout camp and did not participate in the 3-on-3 tournaments, but he did take part in some of the on-ice workout sessions. In one particular drill, Lee demonstrated his poise with the puck making crisp outlet passes with ease.
Pierre-Luc Lessard, D
Last Team: Prince Edward Island, QMJHL
The fourth-round pick, 121st overall of the Senators in 2006 was a top defender for the Prince Edward Island Rocket in the QMJHL during 2006-07. After spending two seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques, Lessard was traded to PEI where he continued to develop into a reliable two-way defenseman at the junior level. The native of Thetford Mines, Quebec has one year of junior eligibility left. He has not been offered an entry-level contract and will likely return to PEI for a final year.
Camp Review: Lessard had a disappointing camp. He seemed disinterested and lethargic at times and was beaten consistently in one-on-one drills. Lessard was relatively unnoticeable in 3-on-3 tournament play and except when he was the recipient of a thunderous bodycheck. Lessard possesses skill and still has potential, but his showing at camp did not leave a good impression.
Matt McIlvane, C
Last Team: Ohio State, NCAA
McIlvane was a late draft pick, eighth round, 251st overall by the Senators in 2004. Plucked out of the USHL, McIlvane turned a lot of heads in 2003-04 after a productive season, which featured him becoming known as the hardest-hitting forward in the league. Open ice, along the boards, anywhere McIlvane had an opportunity to flatten an opposing player he did not hesitate. McIlvane, who attended camp in 2006, spent the 2006-07 season at Ohio State University. He’ll be a senior this year.
Camp Review: Unfortunately, the development camp did not feature much physical play or open-ice hitting, otherwise McIlvane might have been more noticeable. Though he did display decent skating and puck skills, McIlvane did not stand out. He did play on the 3-on-3 tournament winning Black team, but was by no means an offensive cog. McIlvane did score the winning shootout goal for Team Black in the final 3-on-3 tournament going five-hole on Elliott.
Derek Smith, D
Last Team: Lake Superior State, NCAA
Smith spent the last three seasons at Lake Superior State University. His 2006-07 season was by far the most productive and saw his point total more than double. The Senators took notice of Smith’s strong play and signed the free agent to a two-year deal at the end of the NCAA season. Smith will turn pro this fall and likely begin his career with Binghamton. This was his first appearance in an NHL development camp.
Camp Review: Smith had a average showing in camp. A relatively unknown player coming in, he displayed decent puck skills and skating ability. He scored a goal for Team Red in the 3-on-3 tournaments and played well cycling the puck with his teammates. Smith’s best asset in camp was his smooth passing ability, demonstrated during outlet passing drills.
Shawn Weller, LW
Last Team: Clarkson, NCAA
Weller, a Glens Falls, NY native, was a third-round pick, 77th overall by the Senators in the 2004 draft. After three solid seasons with Clarkson University and an appearance on USA’s World Junior team in 2005, Weller signed an entry-level contract with Ottawa and turned pro at the end of the 2006-07 season, joining Binghamton for five games. Weller, who participated in the 2006 development camp, will continue his development with Binghamton this fall.
Camp Review: Weller appears and plays much bigger than he is listed. A strong skater with an excellent top gear, he showed tremendous ability to drive to the net and blow by defenseman with quick acceleration. He is more a playmaker than a goal scorer, which was demonstrated during the 3-on-3 tournaments when he made several excellent passes that resulted in scoring changes. Weller also played with an edge, dishing out solid hits whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Ilya Zubov, C
Last Team: Ufa, Russia
Zubov went through some rough patches prior to his arrival in North America for his first NHL development camp. At the end of 2005-06, Spartak, his team in the Russian Super League, folded and Zubov was moved to Khimik. After a brief stint there, where he did not have an opportunity to develop due to an overflow of veterans, Zubov was shipped to Ufa where he played out the remainder of the season. Zubov, selected 98th overall by Ottawa in the 2005 draft, has spent his entire hockey career to date in Russia playing mostly in the Elite league. He has yet to signed an agreement with Ottawa and it remains to be seen whether or not he is willing to accept the learning curve, which could include some time in Binghamton.
Camp Review: Zubov proved to be one of the best players in camp. His raw skill and elite offensive hockey sense were clearly visible in drills and especially in the 3-on-3 tournaments where his teams’ offense ran through him. Zubov was constantly around the puck and he controlled the play dangling in and out of scoring areas and threading the needle with seeing-eye passes. He rarely took a shift off during the 3-on-3s and made several highlight reel plays. Zubov showed strong skating ability, elite level stickhandling and a laser-beam of a shot.
Jim McKenzie, RW
Last Team: Michigan State, NCAA
McKenzie, the second most senior player at camp, did not participate in on-ice sessions due to an injury.
Jim O’Brien, C
Last Team: University of Minnesota, NCAA
O’Brien underwent shoulder surgery on April 30 and was unable to participate in any on-ice activity.
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