The buzz that was created in the playoffs in Columbus has now carried over into the summer, and in a big way. The Blue Jackets prospects on Monday hit the ice at Nationwide Arena for their first on-ice session of this year’s Development Camp. Judging by the size of the crowd that took in the events of the first few days of camp, there is an excitement about the future of this team. I had the chance to watch a live stream of the morning sessions at this year’s camp. A few things stood out to me that are worth mentioning.
I’m sure many of you have had the chance to see Sonny Milano’s YouTube video which demonstrates his crazy good puck skills (if you haven’t yet, fear not, it is posted below.) At least in the first couple of days of Development Camp, those skills were on display on the ice. He is a great skater, and very creative with the puck. You can just tell when someone has that “it” factor. Milano demonstrated that “it” factor and more during drills. When you thought he was in trouble, he was able to skate his way out of it. He has the makings of being an offensive force. He committed to Boston College, but has his rights owned by the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. He will vastly improve either team where ever he decides to go. Things are very much looking up for Sonny.
Wennberg, Dano, & Rychel
The thing that jumped off my screen about the Blue Jackets 2013 First Round picks is how much bigger each of them got, especially Alexander Wennberg. They were each able to get bigger, while still being a fluid skater. Wennberg came into Development Camp this year adding 10 pounds of muscle. Combine that with the hockey IQ that he has, and you are seeing someone who has a chance to start the season in Columbus. Dano and Rychel came in with more muscle as well. However, with the amount of competition in the Blue Jackets Bottom 6, Springfield seems like a likely destination for both.
Camp Focus on Skating
Head Coach Todd Richards after last season said that one of the biggest priorities for the Blue Jackets in the off season would be to become a faster team. If the Development Camp drills thus far are any indication, he was true to his word. There has been a real focus on skating. On Wednesday, the prospects had to go through 45 minutes of endurance drills. Many of the skaters were gasping for air. Some were seen laying on the ice between drills, and that wasn’t sufficient enough recovery time in some cases. Expect the Blue Jackets to be a much faster team when the season does begin.
Thursday will be the last day the Blue Jackets prospects are on the ice. After a crew race on the Scioto River in the morning, the prospects will play in a 3 on 3 tournament at Nationwide Arena at 430pm. This week has shown that the future here is very bright. There is a lot of talent waiting for their chance to make an impact on the Blue Jackets. The buzz that started in the playoffs, has carried over to this Development Camp, and will carry over to Nationwide Arena for many years to come.