The past handful of summers, NHLers have gathered in Toronto to work out together. It’s sponsored by BioSteel, who provides some training and ice time in exchange for putting BIOSTEEL on everything in a two block radius. Look, I’ve used it twice in the first paragraph, it’s working.
The camp is packed full of current stars and future ones, from Tyler Seguin and Mark Giordano to Darnell Nurse and Josh Ho-Sang. On the final day they play a semi-serious tournament, which I figured I’d go check out.
It’s not every day you get to see these guys up close and personal, particularly in an environment when they’re under zero instruction from coaches and can get as creative as they like.
Given that privilege, I took some notes. Let’s dive in.
Some players are just cut out for shinny
I spent the first 30 minutes trying to figure out who was wearing a Stars helmet with #8 on the back. I’d know if it was an NHLer, so it must be an up-and-coming prospect, right? And what a prospect! Big guy, fantastic jets, good hands...he made some nasty plays against some premier players.
Nope. It was 27-year-old Kevin Henderson, who played for the Texas Stars of the AHL last year - a left winger hot off a 23-point season (65 games).
Along the same lines? TJ Galiardi of the Winnipeg Jets scored somewhere between nine and 300 goals out there, just dangling around. He had four goals in 62 games last season.
It’s a lot easier for players of a certain skill set when nobody puts the body on anyone and chances come up twice a shift.
Thomas Kaberle still exists
Well hey, who’s that smooth skating defenseman with great hands and a helmet from the late 90s?
Thomas Kaberle was out there with the kids, still looking as good as ever, as you’d expect in no-contact shinny.
With all the grit and contact stripped away Kaberle could be elite for another two decades. He should go play in the Swiss league or something.
Max Domi is a wrecking ball
Having never seen him in person, this is the imagery his game put in my head:
Just wide, low, stable and fast as hell.
Tyler Seguin is also a cube
I tweeted this yesterday, but it just shocked me. He’s listed at 6’1”, which I assume means he’s also 6’1” wide. His upper body is gigantic.
I’m curious to see how that plays out. It’s not exactly a necessary build for a goal scorer, so I’m looking forward to seeing if he put the same effort into his legs to make sure that mass doesn’t slow him down. Bulky isn’t generally the hockey player’s goal.
I mean, I’m sure the ladies are diggin’ it - and I’m sure that’s why so much effort has gone there. It’s just odd.
GIMME THE ROCK
You know the guy. He’s in every sport. He wants the pill. Give him the rock. He’s open. YUP! YUP! OVER HERE! JONESY! YEAH YEAH!
It’s not necessarily terrible to be that guy, but in summer shinny, c’mon man. Mike Cammalleri wanted the thing the whole damn day. It’s a trait of great players - Ovechkin, Subban and more - but summer is a different animal.
Actually, Cammalleri’s summer puck etiquette was a little off in general. He was also the guy pressuring his opponent the second they pulled the puck out of the net to start heading the other way. What is this guy, new?
Josh Ho-Sang is a fan of Josh Ho-Sang’s skills
Maybe it was because of his recent comments, but what stuck out to me about his game was how he wanted to demonstrate the things he could do with the puck every time he touched it. Easy passes were glossed over to thread the needles, open players were dusted off so he could pull it through his feet, and he held the thing for what seemed like ages. It’s summer, but pretty much everyone at that camp can do those same things, they just don’t feel the need to pointlessly do tricks.
The skill, oh boy, it’s there in spades. But for me, it’s something worth watching in the future.
A big thanks goes out to Mazda Canada for the invite and access to the camp.