Saturday, October 4, 2014

It's Time to Extend Training Camp

CBJ fans react to Gallos' suggestion that training camp be extended...
Wait...what?  Did I say training camp?  Oops!  I meant to say the tryout!

Due to the vicissitudes of the preseason, it seems that our young wunderkids, Marko Dano, Kerby Rychal, and Alexander Wennberg are poised to make this team out of training camp.  They have all shown themselves to be at some level ready for this task, so at this stage of the game it is important to remember that we are entering another phase of 'making the team', and that is a 10 game tryout.
If my understanding of the CBA is correct, there is tonight's final preseason game, and up to 9 regular season games that Dano, Rychal and Wennberg can play before you burn the first year of their entry level deal.  So despite the fact that the Jacket's brass has watched these guys intently, they are going to be scrutinized even harder over the next 9 games.  It is quite possible that all of these guys play in the AHL before the year is out.  In an ideal world, they would already be down there preparing to lead Springfield back to the playoffs.  But adversity has payed a visit to the CBJ, and here they are.

One of the things to watch is how they react to escalation of the pace of play in the NHL.  There is training camp pace, and then the jump to regular season pace with the home openers.  They will all be excited, so that shouldn't be too big of a deal.  The next escalation of pace is a subtle one, which occurs about a week into the season.  Teams tend to play a couple of games where they are sort of finding themselves after the opener, but at that point the good teams seem to take it up a notch, and go on a bit of an early season tear.  The important part of the extended tryout is to see how these young kids react to that first escalation of pace.  If they are holding their own, then all is well.

This means that by the October 28 home game with Ottawa, decisions will have to be made about eating that first year of the entry level deal.  That stretch of games includes a classic west coast trip of the Sharks, Ducks and Kings, 3 of the elite teams in the league.  These are road games, so Richie won't get to shield the youngsters with his line combinations.  Wennberg will play against Kopitar, Getzlaff and Thorton in at least some shifts in those games.  THAT would expand anyone's horizons.  These are the games where Joey solidified his position by playing well defensively against those players in the truncated 2012-13 season.  Wennberg does not have Joey's physical attributes; his main asset against them is how he processes the game.  It should make for some fascinating late night TV.

Dano, Rychal, and Wennberg have performed in the face of opportunity.  Well done lads!  Well done indeed.  But that just puts you at base camp.  The mountain must yet be climbed.  How they do on that trek is going to give us an idea of the future possibilities for this franchise.  I look forward to watching it with great glee.


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