New prospects enjoying different feel at Blackhawks camp

“Here comes Alex DeBrincat blazing down the right side … he’s over the blue line … he fires … and scores!”

“Chad Krys dishes to Graham Knott … Knott moves inside … unleashes a shot … and scores!”

“Here comes Anthony Louis on a breakaway … he moves in on Wouter Peeters … fires and … OH, what a save by a lunging, sprawling Peeters!!”

OK — so we’re stretching it a bit here as there’s obviously never been play-by-play from Pat Foley or John Wiedeman at Blackhawks Prospect Camp. But one thing fans are missing from this year’s rendition at Johnny’s IceHouse West are the scrimmages that used to take place on a daily basis.

Instead, the Blackhawks’ staff decided to run four days of practices for the 42 skaters and to finish the camp with a Friday scrimmage at 9:30 a.m.

“I think they’re taking more of a developmental approach (to) develop more skills,” DeBrincat said. “Scrimmages are great, but if someone’s doing something wrong, they can’t really correct it that quick. … Obviously with all those coaches out there you know you’re really getting the full effect of what they want you to do.”

From a fans’ standpoint there’s no denying that this camp lacks the pizzazz and excitement of years past.

During the 90-minute sessions, prospects engage in a variety of passing, skating and puck-battle drills as well as 2-on-2, 2-on-1, 2-on-0 rushes, and some 2-on-2 play with a pair of coaches positioned at the point as extra attackers. Coaches added a 3-on-3 overtime scrimmage for about 10 minutes Wednesday.

Off the ice, players are getting O2X training to help with the mental side of the game.

“I feel like every year they’re trying to change it and keep it interesting for those guys coming back, and to try and make the camp as best as it can be,” said Louis, a sixth-round pick of the Hawks in 2013 who is from Winfield and participating in his fifth camp.

“You’ve just got to focus on you and develop and get better each and every day. That should be guys’ motivation.”

The absence of scrimmages is making it difficult — if not impossible — to find a standout star, whereas last year an unknown Alexandre Fortin exploded onto the scene by scoring or assisting in nearly every game. Still, there are opportunities to shine, and Knott, DeBrincat and Matthew Highmore (a left-shot winger who scored 34 goals in Quebec juniors) certainly acquitted themselves nicely in spirited 2-on-2 drills on Wednesday.

“Personally I like both equally the same,” DeBrincat said. “The drills are really fun. You get more reps and there’s probably more shooting than you’d have in a game.”

Said defenseman Luc Snuggerud, a fifth-round pick in 2014 who will compete for the last spot on the blue line: “Of course it’s easier to stand out in scrimmages just because that’s hockey — that’s the way it’s played. But at the same time, practice gives you a better chance to work on the skills you need to work on.

“I don’t think practices are as much about sticking out as getting better every single day and then waiting until Friday. That’s kind of the time guys can show what they’ve been working on this summer.”

• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh

Source: Sports

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