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Prospect scrimmage wrap-up
From talking to several of the Isles' front-office types either watching the game or coaching it -- scouting chief Trent Klatt and assistant coach Doug Weight handled the Orange squad, while player development director Eric Cairns and scout Chris O'Sullivan coached the Blue team -- here are the standouts from last night's game and the camp overall:
-- 2011 2nd-rounder Scott Mayfield was the best player on the ice for either side. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman plays a poised, smooth game with the puck and has an edge without it. He delivered a shoulder check to camp invitee Johnny McGuire that would have been a debatable hit to the head in a live game -- and McGuire left the game with what I can only presume was a concussion -- but Mayfield is a load out there.
He is headed back to the University of Denver for his sophomore season, but he'll get plenty of interest to turn pro after that.
-- The scouts and coaches like the maturity they've seen from Kirill Kabanov so far. He's been less boisterous during drills and during the game, and contributing in positive ways. There wasn't much flash on display during the game -- Kabanov's Blue team was shut out -- but Kabanov needs to fit in first before he can utilize his talent.
-- Ryan Strome, who skated with Kabanov on most of his shifts, missed a couple penalty shots and fluffed a one-timer, but he was relentless in his puck pursuit and played a smart game. He talked about trying to dedicate himself to a more all-around game, focusing on winning faceoffs and being responsible, so he knows what he needs to do to turn heads in the big camp in three months.
Whether Garth Snow and Jack Capuano can commit second-line center minutes to Strome is the bigger question, and with the four center spots fairly well set on paper for now (John Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Casey Cizikas, Marty Reasoner), it'd be tough to bump one of those players with more defined roles for Strome if the 18-year-old isn't really ready.
But he's an eager student of the game, so nothing's for certain.
-- 2010 3rd-rounder Jason Clark drew some solid notices for his work this week. He's barely been able to crack the Wisconsin lineup through two years there -- just 35 games over that time, with just two total points -- but he's good size and plays a good game on the wing. Clark skated with Brock Nelson much of last night, and they were a good combination.
-- D Brenden Kichton continues to get the sort of nodding accolades from the front office that tell you they think they could have another Andrew MacDonald sort of depth-draft find on their hands. Kichton is only 5-11, but he's a pretty solid 193 pounds and plays a smart, calm game, making himself available for plays from his D partner and rarely getting into trouble.
On the first shift of the scrimmage, he went in for the body on Nino Niederreiter without hesitation, an example of how he needs to play to get noticed. Kichton will almost certainly have a contract this summer and get a chance to start his pro career in training camp.
-- Niederreiter and Cizikas were a pair for most of the game and neither did much aside from an effort play by Nino to set up an empty-netter for Mike Halmo for the Orange side. Cizikas tried to do a little too much and got caught out of position, but he knows what his role will be coming into camp and is smart enough to not do too much when the big boys are around.
-- Griffin Reinhart was steady last night, not terribly noticeable and about what you'd expect for a young man playing for the first time under the glare of being a top-5 pick. Among the other numerous 2012 D picks, 2nd-rounder Ville Pokka showed some good awareness and jumped into the rush a few times.
Camp concludes today and then it's time for free agency. I'll be back with a Saturday post on who the Isles hope to target in FA, and whether it's realistic that they can find some bodies amidst the overpaying hysteria that begins Sunday at noon.