This Just In
Posted By: Aaron Sims
Training camp has been a little different for the Nashville Predators this season.
Last season, the team held a lot of scrimmages early in camp. That hasn’t been the case this year. So, the coaches have had to wait for the exhibition games to evaluate the players.
The first 30 minutes of the first few days of training camp were spent with skills coach Shawn Allard
. Allard is a former professional player in Europe who has been running an elite skating program. The players have been working on their strides and stickhandling with Allard.
Reports I’ve received from Nashville say Craig Smith has been as impressive as his numbers from the two rookie games suggest. In case you missed it, the Madison, WI native scored six goals in two games for the Predators rookies against Florida and Tampa Bay.
Juuso Puustinen is equipped with a very good shot and, according to a Finnish scout, has some “jam” to his game. Maybe he can be another Antti Pihlstrom?
Michael Latta needs to improve the skating, but he has impressed with his tenacity and skill.
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm has been getting better as camp has progressed. Apparently, several veterans have remarked how impressed they’ve been with his abilities. If camp were to break today, it sounds as if Ekholm, Teemu Laakso and Jack Hillen would be the players to stay in Nashville to join Jon Blum, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Kevin Klein. If that is the case, six of the seven defensemen in Nashville would be Predators draft picks. (Remember, Francis Bouillon is out with an injury. His return would likely bump one of those three back to Milwaukee.)
Another defenseman, Victor Bartley, has played well. In one of the rookie games, he was forced to play forward and was able to show his fine skating ability.
Forward Matt Halischuk looks to be faster than he was last season.
In goal, Chet Pickard has been sharp. Pickard’s struggles last year have been well-chronicled. He has continued to work hard and looks to put his on-ice troubles behind him.
By the way, Josh Cooper of The Tennessean
continues to provide great coverage. I suggest you follow him
for the latest information.
Congratulations to two of my favorite people: UW Women’s Hockey Coach Mark Johnson and former UW Men’s coach Jeff Sauer. They, along with Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Pulford and long-time USA Hockey executive Toni Rossi have been named recipients of the 2011 Lester Patrick Trophy
. The Lester Patrick Trophy has been presented by the National Hockey League and USA Hockey since 1966 to honor a recipient's contribution to ice hockey in the United States. The recipients will be honored Wed., Oct. 26 in St. Paul, MN.
By the way, Admirals head coach Kirk Muller and Mark Johnson were teammates for five seasons with the New Jersey Devils.
Former Admirals forward Jason Guerriero has had an interesting summer. After he retired from playing, Guerriero was named assistant men’s hockey coach at Colby College to coach Jim Tortorella. However, Tortorella decided to leave the Division-Three school after 16 years to become an assistant at the University of New Hampshire. That left Guerriero in limbo. He did eventually get hired to be an assistant at Divison-One Holy Cross.