The Phoenix Coyotes wrapped up their fourth and final day of prospect development camp at the Scottsdale Ice Den on Friday.
Over the four day camp, there were three days of 90 minute on-ice practice sessions which consisted of skating drills, shooting drills, one-on-one drills, and scrimmages and one day where the players hiked Camelback Mountain. Thirty-three players, with no NHL experience, were invited to take part in the camp including seven out of the eight players drafted earlier this month.
All eyes were on Brandon Gormley and Brendan Shinnimin as many expect them to compete for a starting role with the Coyotes in training camp. Gormley was the Coyotes first selection (13th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He spent last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) playing for two different teams. Gormley was traded from the Moncton Wildcats to the Shawinigan Cataractes at the trade deadline. He went on to win the Memorial Cup with the Cataractes. After having a slow start to camp, Gormley came on strong in days two and three of the on-ice sessions. His skills shined during scrimmages where he constantly pestered forwards with a very active stick and good body position. He often times looked like a man amongst boys during the final scrimmage of camp. It was a very strong finish and a good transition into training camp in a few weeks.
Shinnimin came into camp as an undrafted free-agent who signed with the Coyotes in March. Shinnimin was the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) player of the year and the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) player of the year last season. Shinnimin scored 58 goals and tallied 76 assists for 134 points in 69 games played last season for the Tri-City Americans. The Coyotes hope that Shinnimin can add some much needed offense to the team. He displayed a nice wrist and slap shot throughout the offensive drills. Unfortunately, he was knocked down several times reminding observers about his smallish 5′ 10″ frame.
Two players saw their stocks rise over the four days of camp, Jordan Martinook and Evan Bloodoff. Martinook displayed a wide variety of skills during days two and three of prospect development camp. He showed off a powerful wrist shot to both sides of the net, he deflected a punk into the net during the net-front drill, and made some beautiful tape-to-tape and drop passes throughout the session. The Coyotes are high on Martinook after he scored 40 goals last season for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Martinook was selected in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (58th overall).
Evan Bloodoff, who spent last season in Portland for the Coyotes AHL affiliate, had a very solid prospect camp. Throughout the camp Bloodoff was the fastest player on the ice displaying great skating ability and speed. Bloodoff also displayed a wicked wrist shot that had goalies throwing their hands up in disgust. This is a player who only scored eight points in 48 AHL games last season. If he keeps this up into training camp, Bloodoff may find himself a fourth line role.
First round pick Henrik Samuelsson looked fine in camp but did not do anything dazzling. Samuelsson labored around the ice and displayed an un-conventional skating style that many believe hurts his speed. Samuelsson displayed great puck control ability in the offensive zone and showed off a powerful wrist shot. If he can improve his skating, Samuelsson could make it into the Coyotes line-up by the 2013-2014 season.
While most of the on-ice activities were not very conducive to goalies, all four goalies in camp looked good. The most surprising goalie might have been free agent Chris Rawlings who more than held his own in competition against top goalie prospects Mike Lee, Mark Visentin and Louis Domingue.
With prospect development camp now finished players will scatter back to their homes to proceed with their individual training regimens and hope to get a call in a few weeks to return to Arizona for training camp.