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Rookie Camp Day 1

September 13, 2010, 3:13 PM ET [ Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Notes and observations from the first day of rookie camp.


Veterans:

* Bill Guerin is still practicing with the veterans who have reported to Voorhees ahead of the main camp. Nothing new to report on a contract signing.
* Nikolai Zherdev is still having visa issues and is not in camp yet.
* Backup goaltender candidate Johan Backlund is still not skating. Unconfirmed word around the Skate Zone was that he's still having post-surgical discomfort in his hip.

Rookies:

* The rookies practiced with the following combinations:

Andrew Rowe - Ben Holmstrom - Mike Testwuide
Tye McGinn - Luke Pither - Michael Chaput
Justin Dowling/ Brendan Ranford - David Labrecque - Shane Harper
Matt Bissonnette - Zac Rinaldo - Blake Gal

Erik Gustafsson - Tyler Hostetter
Marc-Andre Bourdon - J.P. Testwuide
Ricard Blidstrand - Joonas Lehtivuori
Neil Manning - Jesse Dudas

Sergei Bobrovsky
Nic Riopel
Adam Morrison
Brian Stewart

* The practice setting wasn't ideal to evaluate players and it was just the first day of camp, so my observations below need to be taken with a huge grain of salt. These were non-scrimmage conditions but players were put into some game-simulated conditions in drills. No one was wearing numbers on their jerseys, forcing you to try to catch the number on the back of players' helmets, so hopefully I jotted down the right numbers and combos. With all that said, the skills of a few particular players at camp were clear.

* Among all the defensemen, the passing acumen of Erik Gustafsson leaped out right away. In passing drills from blueline to blueline, he put pass after pass right on the tape. He looks smaller than his listed 5-foot-10 but he has good wheels and good hands.

* Marc-Andre Bourdon could take awhile to develop into an NHL prospect but he attacks the ice aggressively and can really boom the puck. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in his second pro season. His footwork still looks a bit rough.

* Ben Holmstrom skates well, too, but he had trouble finishing in close. Good energy line prospect.

* 2010 draftee Tye McGinn, although not necessarily projected as a scorer, showed good hands on several occasions. He is adept at deflections and going to the "greasy" areas in front of the net. That can take a willing player a long way even if he lacks stellar natural skill. Keep an eye on McGinn, because I think he'll be a pro.

* Sergei Bobrovsky has fast reflexes and appears to be focusing on one of the key aspects of making the small-rink transition -- coming out from his crease and challenging shooters. He was also working on his own with fellow goalie Brian Stewart on a puck-handling drill. Stewart did OK, nothing special. Bobrovsky looked like he will need work in that area, which isn't surprising because it's a goalie skill that Russian training programs rarely emphasize for goalies. In a non-game setting, however, it was tough to make any observations about Bobrovsky beyond that.

* Mike Testwuide was a little better puckhandler than I expected. I was lukewarm of what I saw of his goal-finishing hands, though perhaps it was just first-day-of-camp rust. Off the ice, he seems like a real nice, articulate kid. After the training session, he told writers Tim Panaccio and Chuck Gormley that he had been heavily scouted by various NHL teams last season, and chose the Flyers because they showed the most commitment to him. He indicated that he met with several people around the organization last year, including former coach John Stevens.

* Overage signee Luke Pither has good hands in close but did not otherwise stand out in any way, shape or form. I was hoping to see him stand out a little more. I was a lot more impressed by fellow overager Shane Harper, who finished last season with five games on the Phantoms. Twice yesterday, Harper blew past defensemen on rushes. One time, the victim was Ricard Blidstrand on a crossover. I believe (but am not positive) Tyler Hostetter was the other one.

More camp observations forthcoming tomorrow.
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