Monday, March 29, 2010

Dalton feature

Yesterday I finished a feature on Matt Dalton, a Boston prospect who's a very interesting guy. Self-taught goaltender/farmer, it doesn't get better than that. When he came out of the locker room to find me, he was still buttoning his shirt and getting on his shoes -- he said he didn't want to keep me waiting. We talked for about 14 minutes, and it didn't feel like I was keeping him. He was very relaxed for a goaltender too. All in all, very impressive off the ice. I'm surprised more features haven't been written about him.

I don't think Reading has a very good team this year, but if Dalton puts them on his back, who knows.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NTDP at Indiana

A few photos from the USNTDP at Indiana last night. I'll have features on Johns and Moffatt in a few weeks.

Frank Simonelli with a high leg kick in warmups. I don't think this is in the textbook.

Luke Moffatt yakking it up on the faceoff. You might think he's just catching up with a former teammate in Mattson, but he seemed to chat up a lot of people on the faceoff. He's just a chatty kind of kid.

Jarred Tinordi vs. Brian Ferlin. Tinordi stood him up hard at the blue line, that's what brought this on. It was just a good defensive play.

Tyler Biggs vs. Chris Martin. I think Biggs grabbed him by the mouth here. He's someone I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. He looks like a great player for 2011 though.

This image cracks me up. Rather than smush into the end of the bench in a chair like most backups, Jack Campbell stood behind the bench with the coaches. Looks quite out of place. He got ice water dumped on him in the shower later and screamed quite loudly. A bunch of jokers these guys.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Indiana vs. Green Bay (USHL)

I came back to Indianapolis to catch the NTDP, but also caught the game against Green Bay last night. After bad experiences with poor lighting in the building last time, I was spurred to pull the trigger on the new camera purchase, which I'm very happy with. If they would only use all the lights during warmups.

Notes on players:

Mattson (IND) -- I was pleasantly surprised how he's come along. I didn't like him much at last year's U18 WCs, or the USHL All-Star Game. But he looks very good now. I'll put together a feature on him soon.

Morris (IND)-- He looked good during the game, beaten high only on a couple high shots. The shootout was a different story. More broadly, his glove placement looks too low. His coach acknowledged it was an issue.

Fallon (IND) -- I just don't see much here, other than hustle. I think he'll be a big dropper on the spring 2010 rankings.

Crane (Green Bay) -- He was benched after taking a roughing penalty that resulted in a goal. That was the first period, so good thing I was paying attention early. His game isn't pretty, but is effective. Spoke to him afterwards, an interesting guy. Late rounder, but I think he'll get picked. He's committed to OSU, and has been asked to come this fall (now that Dalpe etc are gone), but told me he might report to Windsor depending on what the NHL team who drafts him wants him to do.

Lee (GB) -- Islanders fans seem to think we overlooked Lee on the latest Top 20 list. I've looked at him twice this year, but I still can't get onboard. He has size and skates well, but ultimately is disappointing.

Max Cook (IND) -- He's a 1990, so he probably won't be drafted, but he should be. Late bloomer. Miami University is going to be happy with him.

Harstad (GB) -- Healthy scratch. That won't get you drafted.

Ferlin (IND) -- Poor skater. He's going to have to correct that.

A few photos.

Ref catches some unwanted air.

Coach Jeff Blashill draws on his white board with his back turned.

And now the reveal.

Green Bay won in a shootout. The funny part of this photo is Crane in the upper right corner hugging his teammate like they just won the championship. Note he hadn't been on the ice for 2+ periods at this point.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

College free agents 2010

Some names that may be signed by NHL teams in the coming weeks, in no particular order.

Tom Gorowsky, F, Wisconsin, 23
Dion Knelsen, F, Alaska-Fairbanks, 21
Carter Hutton, G, UMass-Lowell, 24
Chay Genoway, F, North Dakota, 23
Darcy Zajac, F, North Dakota, 23

There doesn't seem to be a hot commodity out there, like there is occasionally. Generally college free agents get overrated though. They are already 23 or 24 when the come out, which is near the top of the development curve. They won't improve much once they are signed. What you see is pretty much what you get.

Simon Gysbers and Casey Wellman already went to Toronto and Minnesota.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Coaching prospect: Chuck Weber

Usually I write about player prospects. But today I want to say a word or two about a coaching prospect, Chuck Weber.

I first encountered Weber when he was coaching his Cincinnati Cyclones in the 2008 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals. After the game, he came into the room where the press conference was set up, and instead of sitting down at the table and microphone, he stood. Here's a picture I took that day:

It was obvious that he had a lot of energy. He struck me as very intense, businesslike. And he got it done -- his team won the thing on the road in Las Vegas.

For the fourth straight year, Weber's got his Cyclones in playoff position, leading their division. The most impressive thing about it to me is that they're doing it this year with two 20-year-old rookie goaltenders -- one from the Predators, one from the Canadiens -- who are not top prospects. These are the kinds of goaltenders who most teams wouldn't want to have to rely on. But the Cyclones play such great team defense that it's working. Weber was himself a defenseman and he knows how to teach it, obviously. He never played pro hockey himself though.

I interviewed Weber about the goalies last night as his team came through town. I wanted to hear about them, but equally I wanted to know more about how he goes about things too.

He was again very professional, fully answering every question. It was after a loss, so this was a good test. Some coaches don't hold it together very well after losses. That's not the case with Weber. He made thoughtful comments and treated the little people (me) with respect.

He won't likely be in the league long. Or, if he is, it's the AHL's loss.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shugg vs. Shalla

On paper, Justin Shugg and Josh Shalla look fairly similar. They're both offensive OHLers who tend a bit more towards goalscoring, both eligible for the 2010 draft, and have similar names. When I was planning my trip to see Windsor and Saginaw, I had some trouble keeping them separate.

Boy did that change. The thing that impressed me the most about Shugg was how hard he worked. Windsor was down by two goals (rare I know, but they had some guys out of the line-up), and Shugg played as if he thought they could quickly get it back. His hard work was rewarded with a goal, though they did still lose. I spoke to him and he's a stand-up guy. Here's the interview.

Shalla, who I saw the next night, did not impress at all. He was even benched in the second period. He seemed to just have one speed, and no intensity. I had questions prepared for him, but instead decided to head to the Erie locker room and talk to Robbie Ftorek about Greg McKegg. McKegg deserved the time, Shalla did not. After I was done with that though, I swung by the Saginaw locker room, wanting to speak to a coach about why Shalla was benched. I wanted to know how different this was than his normal play, so we know where to rank and rate him. I was treated so rudely by associate coach John Kisil, that I just had to laugh. Someone doesn't take losing well, and takes it out on everyone else. In any case, it will make me remember Shalla for sure. And not in a good way.