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Blue-White scrimmage thoughts
Just finished the scrimmage night, with a very good crowd of 5,235 announced at the Coliseum. Here are some tidbits off the game:
-- Jack Capuano singled out Anders Lee and Brock Nelson as stars of the week, and those two teamed with undrafted OHL winger Cody McNaughton to have the biggest impact in the scrimmage. Lee is a smart, smart player, using his big body to shield the puck from defenders and is, as he put it, "not afraid to go in the dirty areas."
Nelson, who has gotten bigger and stronger since he came to this camp last year, worked well with Lee and was strong on the puck and in the offensive zone. A big leap from last season.
"His power has really improved from a year ago," Capuano said.
-- The top line for the Blue squad was Kirill Kabanov-Ryan Strome-Nino Niederreiter, and that trio really didn't get it going until the latter half of the second, 25-minute period. Strome scored twice, once on a penalty shot (those were given instead of power plays), and Kabanov scored on a penalty shot in the final minute. Kabanov wasn't terribly effective otherwise, though; Strome showed his skills but looked raw in a team setting. Niederreiter looked poised and made strong moves.
-- Casey Cizikas didn't get himself involved much until later on as well, but he started throwing his body around on the forecheck and showed the kind of energy he can bring. I fully expect him to go to Bridgeport and be in line for a call-up when injury creates an opening. He's a consummate depth center, as long as he can pay attention to the defensive side.
-- Mitchell Theoret also threw his body around well and set up 2011 second-rounder Johan Sundstrom for a goal. Sundstrom looks like he could do with a few more pounds, but he's got some skill.
-- As for the defensemen, the Calvin de Haan-Scott Mayfield pairing did some good work. De Haan tried to be physical and made some very assured plays, though he was tentative in the offensive zone until a late goal. Mayfield also got more physical as the night went on, and he can be very physical.
-- Another D who stood out was 2011 fifth-rounder Brenden Kichton. He's only 5-10, 175, but he wasn't afraid to step up and make a hit or a play and wasn't out of position. One to watch down the road.
-- G Anders Nilsson was good in his 25 minutes, despite giving up three late goals. In the skills competition, Strome pulled a ridiculous between-the-legs, spin-o-rama goal on Nilsson that the big goalie hadn't seen before.
"A sick move," he said with a smile. "I'm from the same town as (Oilers rookie and shootout whiz) Linus Omark, so he's gotten me a few times. But Ryan's was a new one. You see the skills, that's for sure."