The second and third days of Columbus Blue Jackets development camp may have seemed quiet on the ice, but they were packed with activity.
Day Two: For Goalies’ Eyes Only
Net presence was the focus during the second day, with four goalies each taking their spot between the pipes. The prospect goalies – Anton Forsberg, Martin Ouellette and 2012 NHL Draft picks Oscar Dansk and Joonas Korpisalo – were given quite the workout by Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark on Wednesday. Each young man had the opportunity to work on their skills in finishing and overall speed, and Dansk and Korpisalo in particular benefited from the drills.
Dansk particularly caught Clark’s attention. “(Dansk) has tremendous clarity in what he wants to become, and that’s an elite National Hockey League goaltender…he has excelled on the biggest stages and has a great mental makeup for goaltending. He’s a very well-schooled goalie with great positioning and he’s really good athletically,” Clark said.
The focus on goaltending is an extension of how the team has addressed their net situation. With the departure of Curtis Sanford, the club traded Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers and signed Mike McElhinney on free agency, all while Steve Mason remains their cornerstone. The emphasis on drafting young goalies like Dansk and Korpisalo shows the club’s need for top talent in net, and giving them a whole practice for themselves allowed them to get a taste of what coaches expect from them in the NHL.
“(The goalies at camp) are competing against each other and challenging each other to be at a higher level, and at the same time you’re teammates, comrades and all those things,” said Clark. “It’s a unique parcel that comes with the goaltending position.”
Day Three: Guitars, Team Bonding, Etc., Etc.
Day Three began early for Ryan Murray, who stopped by three Columbus radio stations – CD 102.5FM, QFM96 and WCOL – for appearances on their respective morning shows on Thursday. Murray talked of his impressions of the city, the draft and his musical tastes. He even showed off a talent he’s been honing over the past couple of years – playing the guitar.
After that, it was back to the rink for some on-ice conditioning and testing under the guidance of conditioning coach Kevin Collins. The prospects, broken into groups of four or five, were run in drills from the redline to the blueline and back, then through a maze of cones to test their balance. After the testing, some felt the effects of it, while others toughed it out with a smile.
With testing over, the prospects headed out to the woods for a team bonding exercise run by a formerly enlisted Marine. Rest assured that all the prospects made it back to their hotel in one piece.
Practice resumes Friday at the OhioHealth Ice Haus at 10:30 a.m. It is free and open to the public.