Training Camp Thoughts

With the start of the season right around the corner after an improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals last spring, the talk of the town is all on the training camp. Fans raging over the trade of playoff hero Jaroslav Halak have been keeping a keen eye on acquired forwards Eller and Schultz. While neither player can be expected to play as large a role as Halak played last season (playing a different position being a major factor why), the two young men have garnered quite a bit of attention. Schultz, the 6′ 1 winger, impressed many with his work ethic and attention to the physical side of the game, while showing that he can chip in offensively, scoring a goal in the second day of camp. While not expected to make the team (possibly due to the apparent aversion Canadiens brass has to physical forwards over 6′), fans now see that “the other guy we got for Halak” can at the very least play the game. More importantly, Lars Eller, the main return in the Halak trade, has also impressed fans and coaches alike, for different reasons. While not scoring a goal in his inter-squad scrimmages, Eller displayed nice poise with the puck, good playmaking skills and above average vision, finding some nice chemistry with Russian prospect Alexander Avstin, who scored twice this camp and he himself displayed some skills of his own.

The vets are of course the real center of attention, however for the most part have remained fairly quiet stat wise, which is not too concerning due to the fact that these games mean essentially nothing. While the depth players have been getting some attention with Moen and Pyatt scoring goals, and Lapierre adding two of his own (not to mention O’Byrne showing that he actually does know how to hit the net with a shot, giving him the only goal he’ll score all year), the big guns have remained fairly quiet, Plekanec being the most impressive. Coming off a great season, Plekanec, scoring a goal and adding another in the shootout, looks poised both physically and mentally to justify the five million dollars he’ll be making over the next six years.

The first five cuts of training camp were made Monday, leaving Lefebvre, Ellis, Gallagher, Stejskal and Champion all off the final roster, deemed not ready for NHL duty, although I for one wouldn’t be surprised if the local media were to claim anti-french bias to defend local boys Lefebvre and Champion. I mean come on, his name is Champion. It’s obvious he has all the tools to succeed in the NHL, right?

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