The Gazette notes that while is no doubt that 22-year-old goaltender Carey Price has a tonne of talent and potential, the fact is that he simply didn’t get the job done over the second half of last season and the team’s new head coach, Jacques Martin, appears poised to repeat the same mistake his predecessors made in terms of rolling the youngster out there no matter how he’s playing.
Martin gave Price a strong vote of confidence when he was asked whether he would more willing to switch to Jaroslav Halak if Price struggled.
“I’ll reserve judgment on that,” Martin said.
“I think I believe strongly in Carey Price. I think he’s got tremendous skill. He’s very young. “I think competition is always great and I’ll see how things go at camp.
We got Halak, we got (Curtis) Sanford, we have people competing for jobs. In Carey’s case, I think he’s an exceptional young goaltender. I expect him to keep getting better and be a key part of our hockey club.”
I think I believe strongly? Hmm. Don’t you either believe strongly or you don’t believe strongly?
Anyway, if you’re in a deep keeper league there really isn’t going to be a better time to get Price on your team at this low of a price. It remains to be seen how effective his stats can be this season with how many changes Montreal has made (and you can see where he slots in on the goaltending rankings on Thursday of next week), but Price himself remains someone that is on his way to becoming an elite goaltending talent and chances to get a guy like him don’t grow on trees.
Has he gone through some struggles early on? Of course. It’s natural. Believe in the talent though – he’s the real deal.
JVR INVITES KANE COMPARISONS After being taken right after first overall pick Patrick Kane in the 2007 draft, Flyers prospect James van Riemsdyk has no problems with the comparison to Chicago’s star winger.
“It’s no pressure at all; it gives me more confidence just because I put myself in a similar level to play like him,” van Riemsdyk told The Inquirer after the first on-ice workouts were held at the Flyers’ rookie camp yesterday in Voorhees. “He’s having some good success, so hopefully, I can follow off him.”
New Flyer Ryan Dingle, who played with 2005 second overall pick and late bloomer Bobby Ryan in the AHL, said van Riemsdyk and Ryan have similar personalities and aren’t weighed down by expectations.
“They don’t let it get to them,” said Dingle, who, along with van Riemsdyk and Patrick Maroon, is among the candidates for open wing spots. “They’re both phenomenal character guys and both great, great hockey players. And once they get that chance, they’ll get their foot in the door. There’s a reason why they were drafted No. 2. I’m excited to see the future of James.”
For his part, van Riemsdyk told The Inquirer that playing seven games with the AHL Phantoms late last season made him feel more comfortable in his first Flyers camp.
“Just watching how guys carry themselves and take care of their bodies on and off the ice was huge,” he said. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Van Riemsdyk gained nine pounds in the off-season and a rigorous off-season weightlifting program helped him prepare for the physical NHL. His goal is to start the season with the Flyers.
“You’ve just got to earn the respect and trust of everyone around you, whether it be the coaching staff, management or the players,” he said. You earn that respect, he added, “by going out there and being prepared and working hard. Just taking things very seriously and paying attention to details. I mean, if you’re always on time, always working hard, and doing the little things right, guys will take notice of that.”
Whether or not he can make this team immediately remains to be seen, but the Flyers have done right by this prospect. He spent the past two years developing his game at the University of New Hampshire, which at some point is going to pay off with a top-six winger at the NHL level. It’s likely too early to expect fantasy production from JVR in ’09-10, even if he does make the big squad, but he’s certainly one to have on your radar in deeper keeper leagues.
QUOTABLE “I’m not quite there yet, I still have another month and a half to go and we’ll see how it goes,” Canucks winger Pavol Demitra told The Province about his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. “The shoulder is not quite strong enough yet.
“Hopefully my shoulder gets stronger and (in six weeks) I’m ready for the season.”
BERGFORS’ BEST SHOT The way 22-year-old Swedish forward Nicklas Bergfors sees it, this year may be his best shot yet at earning a spot on the Devils’ NHL roster.
Bothered by shoulder problems in the past, Bergfors told The Star-Ledger Wednesday he feels there are spots there for the taking in training camp. That wasn’t the case last year.
“It was kind of a full team last year,” Bergfors said as rookies took their physicals at the Prudential Center. “They had 12 forwards. I honestly didn’t see any spots last year. I know there are a few this year. I have a better feeling going into camp.”
He told the paper he has his fingers crossed when it comes to his shoulders, which have had a tendency to become dislocated.
“My shoulder is all of the injuries I’ve had,” he said, dismissing a minor groin problem last September.
“It’s something I was born with. I have to take care of my body. You never know. I know it’s there.”
Bergfors has spent four seasons in the AHL
PREDS LOVE FUTURE CENTRES The Tennessean reports that the Nashville Predators’ hope is that in the not-too-distant future, Colin Wilson and Zach Budish will provide a punishing and prolific one-two punch in the middle of the ice.
Coach Barry Trotz went so far as to offer comparisons to likely Hockey Hall of Famers.
“Wilson is a big strong center and physically very fit, so maybe he’s a Rod Brind’Amour type of guy, who’s had a real strong career,” Trotz said. “Budish could be very similar to a Keith Tkachuk-type guy, who’s also had a great career. When we draft, we obviously try to take the best player. But whenever we can add some size, we’re always going to try to do it.”
They’ve each got characteristics that the organization loves and poolies will appreciate them eventually too.
“They’re both power forwards, guys that are hard to knock off the puck,” Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton said.
“They both have soft hands and a good scoring touch, they compete at a high level for the puck and they have the ability to play offensively and defensively. And if need be, they have the size to handle any type of game that can be thrown at them.”
The Tennessean projects that Wilson, a finalist last season for the Hobey Baker award, promises to be one of the bigger stories in training camp. He’ll either make the jump straight from college into the Nashville lineup, or he’ll get seasoning on the AHL level.
Budish won’t attend rookie camp or training camp because of NCAA eligibility rules. He’ll be playing for the University of Minnesota this fall, looking to bounce back from a knee injury that cost him the majority of his senior season in high school.
QUOTABLE “Three weeks before camp, the whole team was here,” St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason told The Post-Dispatch about the Blues’ summer participation level. “I’ve never seen that. I think it’s a result of how everyone feels about our team and how excited we are to get going this year. It’s unbelievable that all the guys are here.”
BENN LIKES RISING EXPECTATIONS The Dallas Morning News reports that after posting breakthrough numbers last season in his final year of junior hockey, Jamie Benn realizes that he’s now seen as a guy who is expected to score. After posting 65 points in 51 GP (33G, 32A) in his first season with Kelowna, the sniper ramped up his game in his sophomore season with 46G, 36A for 82 points in only 52 starts. He added another 33 points in 19 playoff outings.
“Every year, there are expectations. That’s part of the game,” Benn said. “It’s a challenge. It’s nice to have and something I look forward to.”
Dennis Holland, who scouts Western Canada for the Stars and has watched a great deal of Benn’s development, offered his take on the youngster while referencing the winger’s move from the BCHL to the WHL.
“He put on weight, he was more physical and he really started to work on the defensive side of the game,” Holland said. “Now, I would say he is as good on the penalty kill as he is on the power play. He sees a part of his game that needs work, and he goes after it. He wants to be a complete player.”
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is just starting to get to know Benn as a prospect, but he’s already impressed.
“I definitely think he’s ready for the next step,” Nieuwendyk said. “You just look at him and he’s already in a man’s body. If he doesn’t make our team out of camp, you will definitely see him play for us at some time this year.”
The AHL seems to be a more likely destination for Benn in ’08-9, where he’d play a prominent role for the team, but you just never know. James Neal (who, albeit, had four WHL seasons and one in the AHL heading into ’08-9) impressed the socks off the Stars at camp and the preseason last year and gave them no choice but to find room for him… and he went on to score 24 goals in his rookie campaign.
HELM SET TO MAKE WINGS Wings GM Ken Holland told The Detroit News that this seems to be young Darren Helm’s time to finally make the big club out of training camp.
“A year ago, we won the Stanley Cup and he played most of the playoff games and my feeling was coming into this year, I wanted him to develop into a better player,” Holland told fans at Hockey Fest 2009. “And by playing in Grand Rapids he played 20 minutes, he was on the power play, penalty kill, 4-on-4, where up here (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk eat up all those minutes. I think it’s time for him to make our team.”
Helm said his 41 NHL playoff games over the past two springs will be something upon which he can draw headed into this fall too.
“All the experience and knowing that I can play in this league, all the confidence that I’ve built up throughout the last two playoff runs will help me going in, knowing that I can do what I can,” he said.
Detroit veteran Kris Draper is looking forward to what Helm can bring to the team.
“I think you’re going to expect to see a guy that brings a ton of energy. He has unbelievable speed so he’s certainly going to use that, and he competes every night.”
QUOTABLE “(John Carlson’s) going to play in the majority of the preseason games, I assume,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told The Washington Post on the young defenceman’s chances of making the team out of camp. “And John Carlson is going to be the one making the decision. He’s going to make it really easy on us or he’s going to make it really tough on us. We like what we’re seeing right now, but there’s a different calibre next week. We’ll see how it much he’s grown. He’s here to make our team, which is going to push other guys to be better. And if he’s [one of the best guys] it’s going to be a tough decision for us.”