Thrashers prospect camp review

By Holly Gunning

The Atlanta Thrashers held their fourth annual Prospect Development Camp from July 10-18, at the IceForum in Duluth, Ga. The camp focused on improving off-ice conditioning and advanced on-ice training. It was a very tiring camp for everyone involved. Below is a look at how each skater did.


Braydon Coburn – Coburn displayed his well-roundedness in camp, doing everything well. The difference in him this year is his poise on the ice. He looks much more confident and aggressive. He is ready to step into the NHL immediately.

Boris Valabik – Valabik had a very good first camp, working hard to improve. He won one of the three shootout competitions with his very good wrist shot. The first time he went in for it, he deked himself right into falling down, and was met with mock cheers. But the second time he simply beat the goalie with his quick shot and went on to win in the second round with a similar shot. He had the slowest time in the speed test among defensemen going backwards. This is probably the thing he needs to work on the most. Skating instructor Kenny McCudden was working with him individually on staying very square when he skates, instead of swaying from side to side and wasting motion.

Jimmy Sharrow – Sharrow showed his high skill level in camp. He had one of the quickest times among defensemen in speed tests. He shoots well in motion and will drive the net. There are no particular skills to work on for him, rather it is game play and strength.

Mike Vannelli – Vannelli was one of the most pleasant surprises of camp, impressive both defensively and skillwise. He excelled in defensive drills, his takeaways showing good reads and anticipation. He won one of the three shootouts. Showing some fancy moves, his skills are very similar to Sharrow’s. Vannelli can do everything without looking down at the puck, and holds onto it very well even when challenged. He’s very mobile and has good skating form. He didn’t do as well as expected in the speed tests though, and could stand to work on getting as fast backwards as forwards.

Nathan Oystrick – Oystrick is not very quick off the blocks, but does get up to speed adequately. He does not have the size or speed of some other prospects, but he makes up for these deficiencies with very smart play. The more like a game-situation, the better he looks. He takes the puck away almost every time in one on one situations and his man rarely gets a shot off. He owns his area of the ice when he’s out there.

Jeff Dwyer – Dwyer is solid all-around, not outstanding at any one thing. He does have a lot of skill, but it doesn’t seem to be in things that will matter much in a game. He has soft hands, but his shot could stand some more power behind it. He does need to work on keeping his head up more in traffic.

Scott Lehman – Coming straight out of the draft, Lehman looks very far from being ready for pro hockey. His best attribute may be that he’s very calm and patient with the puck, and doesn’t cough it up very easily. His skating is smooth but not fast. He has a very soft shot that will have to be improved. He needs a lot of development in the next two years.

Brian Sipotz – Sipotz showed his good strength in camp and did better than expected in the speed tests going backwards. He needs to improve his agility, however. His defensive game was good in drills. He improved as camp went on, but needs to round out his game into a more consistent package.

Lane Manson – Manson improved considerably from last year, though he’s still very awkward going backwards and was being helped by Kenny McCudden on proper form. He has an accurate slapshot and was effective defensively in most drills. Needs to work more on skating, puckhanding and overall strength.


Colin Stuart – Besides Coburn, Stuart looks the most ready to step in. He created offensive opportunities in the four on four play with his great anticipation and speed. Stuart has true breakaway speed, though was inconsistent in the time trials. He competes hard for the puck and is an accurate passer. He shields the puck well with his body.

Jim Slater – Slater did not stand out as much as one would expect for a player who is supposedly close to being able to play, and not seem to improve much from last camp. That’s not to say he’s not a good player, he just seems to have leveled off in development. Slater again showed his quick hands and feet, and skated as fast with the puck as without it in the speed trials. He climbed The Mountain in 45 seconds, which is very good. Another thing he does well is keep his head up in motion.

Pat Dwyer – Dwyer showed again a good nose for the net in both individual and four on four drills. He almost always gets a shot away. He skates the same speed with and without the puck. He does everything fairly well.

Colton Fretter – Fretter is fun to watch even in drills because of his high energy level. He has a good hard shot and his speed is adequate, though he skates better without the puck. He can work on being stronger on the puck. His size will always be the hurdle to overcome.

Brad Schell – There isn’t a shot that Brad Schell doesn’t want to take. He also did well in skating, climbing The Mountain in 45 seconds. He needs to show a bit more when he doesn’t have the puck. He was also somewhat inconsistent throughout camp, something he’ll need to work on. Schell suffered a strained groin in the last few days of camp and stopped skating with the group.

Rylan Kaip – Kaip looked fine for his first camp, showing good defensive work and good effort. His feet aren’t very fast though — he’ll need to work on this because if he’s going to make it, it will be as a checker. He did not do well at the passing accuracy drills so this is something else to work on.

Anthony Aquino – Aquino displayed the same positives and negatives as he has since he was acquired by the Thrashers. He gets breakaways with his speed but can rarely finish. He needs to slow down a bit and make the right shot. He also does not always handle the puck cleanly. His is an accurate passer when he concentrates. Aquino dribbles the puck too much on his stick when he’s skating. He’s faster without the puck than with it. In essence, he needs to work on combining his speed with other skills. Right now it only exists in isolation.

Stephen Baby – Baby’s issues continue to be skating and stickhandling. His skating times were better without the puck than with it.

Guillaume Desbiens – Desbiens really improved this year, he’s stronger on the puck and his skating no longer holds him back. In a bit of a surprise, his speed is the same with and without the puck. He was told by skating instructor Kenny McCudden not to kick up his heels so much when skating. Desbiens was one of only a few to score in the shootout contest on a high wrister. Skillwise, he can work on puckhandling and passing.

Chad Painchaud – Painchaud has a few things he does well, but really needs to put the rest of his game together. He can make a few fancy moves, but they’re not always the right thing at the right time. He often loses the puck off his stick doing simple drills. He should work on accuracy in passing and shooting. Painchaud has the speed to quickly recover from his mistakes, but he’d be much further ahead if he didn’t make the mistakes in the first place. He should work on using his speed in a smarter way like Colin Stuart. His timed speed was the same with and without the puck.

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