Jared Spurgeon ... discovered, signed, then developed ... all starting from a developmental camp invite ...
Every year, each NHL team (if I'm not mistaken) holds a prospect/developmental camp that brings all their youngsters together for a week of practice and fun activities. A summer camp if you will.
To most, its a chance to meet some new faces, learn a few tricks, and just play a bit more hockey. For a few others, its so much more than that, its an audition. The first round of auditions. Its their chance to show an NHL team that they are worth a contract or a pick in the following draft year.
The Wild has always taken this camp seriously. From the 2010 camp attendees, they signed Jared Spurgeon, Josh Caron, and Justin Fontaine. Caron has just finished up his junior career playing as a tough defensive defenseman, Fontaine has produced a very successful rookie year with the Aeros, and well all know how good Spurgeon has turned out.
From the 2010 camp attendees, we signed Kris Fredheim, who isn't the flashiest player but in his 3 games with the Wild last season, I thought he did pretty well.
Other notables names that attended the Wild camps but was not signed by us? From the 2010 camp, Darian Dziurzynski (selected by Phoenix in the following draft), Tyler Johnson (signed by the Lightning), Matt Read (almost considered for the Calder Trophy), Cameron Schilling (signed by Capitals).
From the 2011 camp, no one was signed or drafted by any other team. However, many of them are being invited back to the 2012 camp.
So if you been following Hockey Wilderness, you should already have a good grasp of who the Wild prospects are so no need to go over them again. The invitees are the new guys here!
And this is a long post, but its really for a quick introduction for when you go down to the Xcel Energy Center for the two scrimmages, so you aren't completely in the dark on these random players.
Take the jump and lets find out who they are.
#62 A.J. Michaelson 6-0 185 USHL
Michaelson may be one of the fastest prospects in the state, he can really move. His acceleration makes him a threat every time he touches the puck. He is sturdy on his skates and shows a willingness to play along the boards or in front of the net.
Michaelson shoots the puck extremely well, often using screens and different release points to make the shot more deceptive. He gets his shot off quickly and keeps the puck low to the ice.
Michaelson was originally thought to be a high-end talent after scoring 62 points in only 28 games with Apple Valley during the 2010-11 season. However, for his 2012 draft year, he scored only 20 points in 53 games, ultimately disappointing all 30 teams and was undrafted.
He'll be heading to the Gophers this season, and not matter what happens in this camp, will probably not be signed. However, if he does well, the Wild will keep a close eye on him, and who knows, maybe get a contract offer like Matt Read or Justin Fontaine.
#78 Bobby Farnham 5-10 180 ECAC
From Brown University:
Played either left or right wing on either the second or third line for most of the season … Key part of the Bears’ power play and penalty kill as one of the fastest skaters on the team ... brings a great amount of speed and scoring ability to the Bears' front line
Now he is a kid that oozes character player. He skates fast, has extreme versatility, always a hard worker, and is an excellent person off the ice. He has been named onto the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Squad all four years at Brown University, and was named the NCAA (New England) Unsung Hero Award this season.
Also, read this story from the New England Hockey Journal, it gives a great insight into who Farnham is. Link here
Whittet’s reflections of Farnham do not include a tale in which the senior forward leaps over a tall building in a single bound. However, they do include a story of Farnham spearheading a program in which an 8-year-old cancer survivor was "drafted" as a member of the Brown men’s hockey team. They also include a tale of Farnham participating in an ocean rescue of three swimmers who were caught in a rip current in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last summer.
Because Farnham has finished his college career, as long as he displays a solid showing in developmental camp, I would love to see him be a part of the Houston Aeros as he brings everything that the Wild are slowly transforming into: a speedy and character team.
#80 Carter Sandlak 6-1 190 OHL
From last year's developmental camp introduction on Hockey Wilderness
Drafted 11th overall in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, there was some hope Sandlak would have some offensive upside to his game, developing into a dangerous powerforward. That hasn't happened so far, but he still has some nice tools that can make him into a bottom six forward.
He is a two-way forward that doesn't mind grinding it out for the puck and doesn't mind dropping the gloves once in awhile. His offensive upside is suspect but can play a simple, physical game. That toughness could be interesting to see since signing him costs no draft picks and only a signature.
It is safe to say that Sandlak still hasn't found his offensive game with an underwhelming 13 points in 34 games. Although being injured is a good excuse, it isn't promising to see those numbers. However, Sandlak continues to bring his gritty game onto the ice, and is still young enough to continue playing and developing in the juniors.
He will have to show he can bring hustle and physicality shift after shift. Because if he can't, he doesn't have much else to offer.
#81 Drew LeBlanc 6-0 185 WCHA
From Hockey's Future
LeBlanc has taken steps to improve his game at the USHL level. There was never a question about is talent and ability, however he needed time to adjust to the level of play. Has a good shoot but is noted as a skilled playmaking forward with good vision and poise in the offensive zone. There were issues with a sense of urgency in his game and toughness. Both aspects have been addressed and LeBlanc has become effective and extremely strong on the puck. He has learned to use his body more, which has helped him become just that more dangerous on the attack. He is very responsible on the defensive side of the game, as he’s one of the top penalty-killers for the Steel. He also sees time with the top powerplay unit. Has good speed and can take off when need be and work through traffic.
Another one of those character college youngsters, LeBlanc was the St. Cloud State Huskies key offensive player but was injured and was only able to play 10 games. He was named onto the NCAA (WCHA) All-Academic Team for three years and the NCAA (WCHA) Third All-Star Team last season, and before he was injured, he was noted to having a career year.
His college career is over, and he shows that his 10 games this season wasn't a pure fluke with an impressive showing at camp, he also could find himself heading to Houston.
EDIT: His career will not be over and will return as captain this season. Thanks The Rabid One
#82 Marshall Everson 6-2 220 ECAC
From Hockey's Future
Everson (pronounced "Eve-er-son") has all the makings of a rock solid power forward. He is an excellent skater combining good speed with long, powerful, fluid strides. He skates with nice edges and transitions quite well. While Everson is not an overly physical player, he doesn’t shy away from playing the body when necessary. Where Everson is particularly dangerous is around the net. He works and competes hard and has shown a willingness to take the punishment in front of the net to make/finish plays. Everson also takes full advantage of size and reach. He can also be a game-breaker and has the ability to step up his game in crucial situations.
Everson is an intelligent player with great hockey sense who sees the ice well and knows where plays will end up. He also possesses some really nice hands and a very good shot. He is very poised and patient with the puck. He can finish plays as well as set them up. His play along the boards and corners is also very good. Everson has also demonstrated that he can make smart decisions with the puck. He is defensively responsible, but it is an area that should improve with further development.
All that sounds great right? Well, none of those skills managed to put up regular points in Harvard during his freshman and sophomore year. However, last year in his junior year, he managed to have a breakout season with 32 points in 31 games.
He was a semi-finalist for the Walter Brown Award, presented annually to the best United States-born college hockey player in New England. He was amongst six other players nominated.
He still has another year left in his college career, but he is a 6'2 205lbs player that has alot of skills, and with an impressive camp, he'll be closely watched this season.
#51 Ryan Van Stralen 6-3 218 OHL
Van Stralen is a physical forward who is at his best playing a physical, aggressive brand of hockey. He is good down low and along the boards, and effective at winning battles for the puck. He is a good forechecker who can cause turnovers based on his aggressive, physical brand of hockey. He has some room to grow with regards to his footwork and acceleration. He has some good offensive potential, but needs some more time to develop it. He projects as a depth forward at the next level, and could be a late round draft selection if a team sees potential.
He is a massive 6'3 210 player that was undrafted this year. However, he consistently plays hard, grinds his way to the net, and can really give goaltenders a hard time with such size planted right in front of them. There isn't much to his game besides that hard, forechecking game, but the combination of size, hardwork, and physical play might just be all is needed to impress.
In fact, the Wild is shifting towards that style of play, and if he really impresses, then just maybe, he might get signed.
#58 Kyle Thomas 6-0 180 ECAC DIII
From last year's developmental invitee introduction and from the USCHO Fan Forum:
"Anyways, #15 Freshman Kyle Thomas is an incredible hockey player. What is he doing playing d3 hockey?"
"Yes - Thomas must be a serious late bloomer. I did a little more digging and discovered that he played public high school hockey in Massachusetts (Waltham HS), where he received no great accolades. And then after finishing HS, he played one extra year in the EJ, where he scored only 27 points. There is not much in his background that would have predicted how good a college player he is.."
He looked quick solid during last camp, from what I can vaguely remember, and returned back to D3 hockey and continued to produce. He still has one more year to go before his college career is over, but it is clear that the Wild have their eyes set on him. Invited last time, invited again. I mean, if they weren't interested, they wouldn't bother inviting again, right?
Anyways, Thomas is an interesting young kid and he'll be someone I'm hoping to keep a close eye on during the scrimmages.
#71 Brett Olson 6-0 185 WCHA
A couple of comments from Bruins viewers from the 2011 camp via HFBoards and TheHockeyWriters
Olson- Good on face-offs, not noticeable.
Brett Olson hasn’t really impressed me too much thus far, but today was his best day of Dev. Camp. He set up Camara with a perfect pass for a tap-in goal in the 2-on-1 drill, and demonstrated a quality shot.
Twenty-four year-old undrafted invitee Brett Olson’s patience and discipline were shown through his decisions to regroup in several disadvantageous situations and smart dump-ins and passes.
He is Michigan Tech's key player as acting captain and scoring leader. He was named assistant captain in his sophomore year and team captain during junior year. It is quite an accomplishment for a kid to get a letter that young, so congratulations.
He has a decent frame, and from what I can tell, he isn't a flashy type of player. He has a decent shot and plays a simple game. But we'll get a better view during camp, but if the Wild are looking for character players that have the ability to lead, Olson is one of those guys.
#75 Will Merchant 6-1 180 High-MN
Merchant is a smooth skating prospect that has good hands and plays hard in all three zones. Is not a prospect that plays the glitter game, as you will not see him make end-to-end rushes every time he touches the puck. Instead, Merchant plays a consistent, 200-foot-game. He plays well in tight spaces and will not shy away from the rough stuff. Merchant has displayed a willingness to work hard in order to be considered one of the state’s top players.
He is a prospect that should be looked at for his team play, defensive contributions, and tremendous work ethic. Merchant is considered one of the top eligible Minnesota prospects for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Merchant was eligible for this year's draft and was a Mr.Hockey finalist, so it is surprising for him to be passed over by all 30 teams. He plays hard, has a decent physical frame, and he played very well at the high school level. It is hard to think why he was passed over.
He will be heading to Maine this season, so he most likely won't be signed to an NHL team, or else he would have to forfeit his scholarship. But again, the Wild don't mind getting an early look into a prospect they may hope to sign in four years time.
#38 Corbin Baldwin 6-5 215 WHL
From the The Spokesman,article here
While the three-year Chiefs veteran is the kind of player that can easily go unnoticed by fans – his points are infrequent, and as his game has matured over the last few seasons he doesn’t drop the gloves every chance he gets – he’s exactly the kind of player Spokane needs on the blue line.
He blocks shots. He sacrifices his body. He finishes checks. He competes. And he frustrates his opponents – like the Kelowna Rockets’ world-class forward, Brett Bulmer, in a game earlier this month.
"He threw him completely off his game just with how hard he played him. (Corbin’s) compete level is what sets him apart," Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said. "He’s hard to play against and he’s going to be such a key component for us in the playoffs because he’s big, strong and tenacious. He does all the little things he needs to do to give our team a chance to win. That’s something he’s matured into."
He was also noted somewhere that he isn't the best skater, so with not being a fighter, it isn't too much of a surprise why he hasn't been drafted. But, with that being said, he brings compete level to its max, and that is something the Wild love.
Mobility may be a problem, but he sacrifices for the play, he plays hard, and just frustrates due to his hardwork. We've seen that with Brett Bulmer and Cal Clutterbuck, who aren't necessarily dirty, but just people off with physical play and hard work.
But again, skating may be a problem, so that is something we all should keep an eye on during camp.
#60 Cody Corbett 6-1 210 WHL
From the Wild Prospect Handbook, link here
Cody Corbett has been an interesting story this year; while manning the blueline in the Fall Elite League, and penciled in as a Captain for his hometown Stillwater High School team, Corbett opted to sign with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, forgoeing his senior season for more exposure and a higher level of play in Major Junior. A big bodied defenseman, Corbett has been a mainstay on an Oil Kings squad riding a 21-game winning streak.
To be specific on his skillset, Corbett is a two-way defenseman that skates well and solid physical play. He is just solid in all aspects of his game, he doesn't wow you. He has good size to do his job, plays well in all zones of the ice, although he isn't much of a dynamic blueline either.
Many were expecting Corbett to be a sure-fire draft pick, but didn't find his name called. That was surprising to many, so he will get his chance to prove the Wild wrong. Maybe it was the fact he seems to already have filled out his frame, and hasn't dominated, indicating there is little potential left than what he is now. Either way, he is now playing in the juniors, so the Wild have the opportunity to sign him and send him back to Edmonton to develop.
#33 Ashton Sautner 5-11 176 WHL
From WHL from Above:
He has a good frame and size to begin with, but I really get the feeling that he plays and looks bigger then he actually is. That`s a good sign.
In my two viewings of him so far this season he hasn`t been afraid to jump into the rush and create things offensively. He`s good a smooth and powerful stride, but he also isn`t afraid to start the rush with his strong passing abilities.
He has also displayed great defensive abilities early in this season. He seems to be an excellent one on one defender, with good reach and stick positioning. There were several occasions where he used his reach, knocked the puck away and then bodied the defender towards the boards.
If there is one area that might hurt him this year, it could be due to a lack of ice time. The Oil Kings are a great club and have one of the top blueline`s in the Eastern Conference and the entire WHL. Ultimately it would be nice to see him get more ice to grow and develop a bit quicker, but it`s clear that Sautner will be put in good positions to succeed and he will surely be a kid to watch as the draft approaches.
Cody continues on say that "Sautner is a hard skating two way defender for Edmonton. Moves the puck well and skates very well for a guy over six feet tall. Competes hard, but could still improve defensively, including stick usage. Struggled in the WHL playoffs from time to time."
He isn't the biggest player but not the smallest either. He doesn't seem to dominate in any area, which could be a key reason why he was undrafted. But looking at his size and Cody' description, I can't help but be reminded of Jared Spurgeon. Obviously, you find gems like Spurgeon rarely, but I can dream.
#84 Mackenzie Skapski 6-3 185 WHL
I can't find a scouting report on Skapski so here's a video feature on him:
MacKenzie Skapski (via ShawTVKootenays)
He's a very big goaltender who didn't get much ice time behid WHL star goaltender Nathan Lieuwen. Lieuwen was signed by the Sabres, so Skapsi will be the #1 goaltender for the Kootenay Ice. Whether he succeeds or not is something we have to wait and see, but hey, you can never have enough goaltending prospects!