A few thoughts from Panthers Rookie Development Camp: Day Two
Today's camp was a lot more physical and I got a chance to see how well the forwards and defensemen play together. Several people from the Panthers organization were in attendance; Tallon, Santos, and Bill Torrey were there for a few moments, and Steve Goldstein looked good in his Panthers tracksuit.
The practices this morning were two-on-one, one-on-one, and three-on-one drills, with a few passing warmups (Huberdeau saucer passes are fun to watch). The goalies didn't look all that impressive, but I don't think the team needed them to be today. And yes, Jacob Markstrom is still injured.
The defensemen got to check the forwards today, which mean we finally got to see Erik Gudbranson. And if you haven't heard about him on twitter yet, he was a bull in a china shop. I felt sorry for the poor forwards who had to try to score on him, because he was knocking them around. R.J. Boyd and Alexander Petrovic were both very tough and hard working, as both players did well containing the forwards and keeping them on their toes. But the guy that impressed me the most was Jonathan Racine. He was all over the forwards today, and hustled around the ice. He wasn't afraid to be physical, even against the 6'5" Nick Bjugstad, keeping him in check after he beat the other forwards (more on him later).
This was the first time I saw Rocco Grimaldi on the ice in physical play, and he didn't disappoint. Not only is he fast, but he's not afraid to fight for the puck. I witnessed him winning a lot of those battles, and getting the puck on the net, shooting low after fooling the defender covering him. He also showed some heart, giving a small boy a puck at the end of practice. I think Grimaldi just made a new hockey player in South Florida. Jonathan Huberdeau made an impression after a slow first day at camp. His passes were spot on and he was excellent at setting up scoring chances drawing the defender on to him and passing it to the other forward for a shot. Kevin Dineen took notice too, as he spoke to Huberdeau after the first practice for quite some time. Bjugstad was the last guy who made an impression on me; his size is a clear disadvantage for any defensemen covering him, and he often beat them to get a great scoring chance. His physical game was present, as he and Racine were fighting for position in front of the goal, but he didn't really use his body much on the other defenders.
I was really impressed with the camp, and had a lot of fun at the Saveology.com Iceplex. I enjoyed talking to many fans about the best sport on ice, and I feel sad that I won't be able to attend tomorrow's camp. But feel free to post your own thoughts of tomorrow's camp and which players impressed you.
And here are more bad quality pictures from my phone.