Development camp is a sort of funny necessary beast.
You get your first look at players, but it’s for the most part a glorified skate around and photo opportunity with a team’s new draft picks. It’s easy to get overly excited over a particular 10 second clip of a player. But with the regular season still being about three months away, it’s hard to really draw any substantive conclusions on where prospects’ talent levels really are.
That being said, here’s a a few highlights from the first three (of six) days spent at the MasterCard Centre.
Much of the talk centred around the first on-ice look of the Leafs’ 2017 first-round pick.
Friend of the blog and Leafs superfan Jason “Dart Guy” Maslakow decided to show up and watch some Leafs hockey, and caught a glimpse of the Leafs’ new young stud defender. There was only one problem…
— DartGuy (@LeafsMaz20) July 8, 2017
I would’ve let him stay, tbh.
Then there was this six minute scrum with Liljegren:
He also did a series of smaller interviews. His one on one with Gino Reda can be viewed here. They discussed his own Erik Karlsson comparisons, how he was told to cut his hair on draft day, and his childhood growing up in Sweden. In both cases, he set his own NHL timeline as one season after this one.
Likely the second biggest name at the camp (but far from the second biggest guy), Bracco was back for a third straight year after being selected in 2015.
In an interview with the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran, he had this to say about how another slight Leafs player:
“Just look at what Mitch did, he had a fantastic season,” says Jeremy Bracco, a Windsor Spitfires forward listed, perhaps generously, at five-foot-10 and 190 pounds. “It makes the small guys like myself feel really good. It captivates you. It shows you have a chance going forward. It’s an exciting time.”
It was mostly a lot of cliche, but it does sound like Bracco is poised to push his way through to the NHL in the near future.
The other guys
TSN’s Kristen Shilton filed a trio of stories on the camp.
Some highlights from:
“Three years ago, I [was with] coaches I had had for a long time and I thought ‘they can’t show [me] anything new, right?’ Dzierkals said after camp practice on Sunday. “[But] here, it’s completely new work, completely new hockey and there’s so much to learn about still. I opened up a new world here.”
“When I went back [to Regina], I don’t know if I was disappointed – obviously you want to play at the top level – but I was also excited knowing we were going to have a good team,” Brooks said. “I took a lot out of [training camp], being around NHL guys every day. It was exciting. But it was a blessing to go back and play a lot [in Regina] and hopefully it helped my game grow.”
And lastly, here’s a video link on the budding friendship between Leafs goalie prospects Ian Scott and Joseph Woll. Apparently, Ian Scott wasn’t even watching the draft, but playing video games instead. Crazy millennials.
The camp runs until Wednesday. It’s the last official on-ice Leafs session until rookie camp, and eventually the full camp begins in September.