Once the 2019 NHL Draft ended, all eyes were on development camp that ended Friday morning with a scrimmage. Many of the team’s top prospects were participating such as Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki and 2019 first-round pick Cole Caufield.
The team camp took place from Wednesday June 26th to Friday June 28th and was the start of player bonding heading towards rookie camp in early September in Belleville. A lot of these kids were coming in fresh and some were veterans, but the players you would expect to stand out, stood out.
First thoughts :
Ryan Poehling – He looked like a man among boys. He said during an interview that he had gained around 40lbs since his draft season and it looked unmovable on the ice during the scrimmages. He picked up where he left off from the regular season and had a high motor for all three days. His stock on the depth chart is moving up and moving up quickly. If he continues like this, then the team will have to make a decision come the end of training camp.
Cole Caufield – Biggest smile at camp. Other than that, he had a decent camp. He showed some good signs overall. He was very involved in plays and shot a lot. The organization depth is missing that and it’s looking good. It is still unknown where he’ll play, but hopefully won’t be long before he wears a Canadiens jersey again.
Jake Evans – Four years of college hockey with Notre Dame and one year of pro level hockey with Laval has refined this former seventh round prospect into a real dependable two-way center. He also looked like he did not belong for all the right reasons. He moved well and scored some very nice goals. I would not be shocked if he starts in the AHL and ends the year in the NHL. He’s close.
Josh Brook – Another player who continued his success from the 2018-2019 season and looked like real smooth out there. Brook’s game focuses on moving the puck and generating offense. He looked very comfortable during drills and continued to show why he is a highly ranked prospect among the Canadiens depth chart on defense. He seems to be trending in a direction that could see him steal the third defence spot on the right side behind Shea Weber and Jeff Petry. A lot of positives from him.
Rhett Pitlick – If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it is. His father, Lance, played in the NHL with Florida and Ottawa. His cousin Tyler and brother Rem also play pro hockey. Rhett can flat out fly. I knew that watching it on a screen but when I attended the first day of camp he really blew by. The scary thing is he can maintain control of the puck at that pace and was on the opposing puck carrier like a hound. He’s set to play for the University of Minnesota of the NCAA in 2019.
Rapid Fire –
Otto Leskinen impressed a lot. He was in the right place at the right time.
Nick Suzuki played with pace and it was obvious to many who did not follow his season that he had worked on his skating. He’s only going to get better.
For the limited amount of time we saw them, Jayden Struble and Cale Fleury moved well out there and showed their mobility. Struble should head to Northeastern with some extra knowledge and Fleury to training camp with an idea of what he should work on during the summer.
Frederik Nisssen Dichow, the goalie the Canadiens chose in 2019, has a lot of athleticism and showed great movement. This may just confirm that the Canadiens know how to draft goaltenders.
In the end, attending camp and getting to see these kids practice and play together was great. I think many of them will go back to where they came from with some new knowledge. Some will be at camp and try to continue on their progression. This is only the beginning.