Leafs coach, Ron Wilson made it clear, Nazem Kadri will not be getting a nine-game audition this season, just to be sent down to the OHL London Knights. Answering questions in the media scrum after the scrimmage at training camp in the Mastercard Centre of Hockey Excellence, Wilson was adamant about being against an audition for the young pivot. In order to stick with the Leafs, the 1st round pick in the 2009 draft will have to beat out one of Mikhail Grabovski, or Matt Stajan for a top-6 role in order to stick, and as of Wilson right now, both are â€˜way aheadâ€™ of Kadri for a spot at the moment.
Kadri will get every opportunity to earn a top-6 spot, but unless he completely overwhelms, expect to see him in London for the entire season.
More notes from Training Camp, Day 2.
Day 2 began with a pre-practice skate and drills began shortly thereafter.
Drills began at center with a forward at the red line making a first pass to a stationary defenseman in the middle of the blueline who returns it to the forward who streaks in for a shot on goal .. drill was modified to include multiple passes between the forward and defenseman while the forward maneuvered in a semi-circle arc around the center face off circle and then streaking in for a shot on goal.
Another forward was added to the mix with one at each wing .. one forward makes the pass to the defenseman who returned it and he left it for the other forward curling off the wing .. modification in that the defenseman makes the pass to the second forward who leaves it for the first forward.
Whistle blows with a hard counter-clockwise skate.
Next set of drills start with a puck in the corner, a defenseman makes a pass to a winger and a two-man breakout versus a lone defender begins, with the original defenseman following the play .. after initial shot on goal, the lagging defenseman gets a puck passed from the corner and takes a shot on goal from the middle of the rink while a low 2-on01 battle ensues in front of the net.
Next drill is where defenseman gets the puck at the top of the faceoff circle in their own zone, makes a pass to defensive partner and makes another pass to the weak side .. modified with a puck skated by coaching staff and dumped into just inside the blueline before the drill began and set the original drill in place ..
Next drill, puck sent around the boards from the blueline in the zone started as a 5-on-5 drill .. defenders are holding sticks from the blade with the butt end on the ice while defending the zone .. drill seems to be designed to ensure proper positioning and aggressively checking the attacking players .. it forces good positioning otherwise the forward unit runs rampant.
Final drill before the scrimmage was a 3-on-2 breakout.
Blake made no effort to pass at all in drills .. Victor Stalberg was one of the fastest skaters during the drills .. Wilson screams to â€˜move your feetâ€™ during drills, and stopped drills twice before resuming with how he wanted to see it done properly .. Wilson also screams for players to â€˜get some waterâ€™ .. Kadri stayed on the periphery in drills and didnâ€™t show a lot of enthusiasm, during practice .. Assistant coach Rob Zettler had to remind this B squad to â€˜go hardâ€™ in drills.
Team Armstrong took on Team Kennedy in the scrimmage .. for the rosters, check out Training Camp Day 1
Lines looked like this:
Blake-Kadri-Hagman (Kadri, Stajan and Boyce were only centers)
Andy Rogers, acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline gave the ref a big welcome by smashing him into the boards sandwiched between Rogers and an unidentified skater .. Team Kennedy mixed up the lines quite a bit and Kadri played with multiple wingers, notably starting with Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman .. Komisarek starts a lot of the plays from behind the net, while Kaberle stands in the corner (concerned over starting from stationary position) .. Kadri was given a bone-crunching check from Luke Schenn, and bounced right back into the play .. Oreskovic keeps the trend of getting the big hit, and getting out of position allowing odd man break behind him .. Stalberg used his size and speed for the occasion during the scrimmage; hard to knock off his feet .. Blacker hurt his foot on a play and looked to be in pain before hobbling off, but returned to the scrimmage .. early in the scrimmage Kadri seemed to have lead feet, and kept going to well with an inside/outside move from the right wing that worked once, and became too predictable .. he struggled with defensive assignment of a center (very important at the NHL level) and has to be more diligent in helping out his defensemen down deep .. picked it up right after the first few shifts and showed some sublime pieces of skill, putting on display exactly what made him a high 1st round draft pick, quick, skilled hands, imagination and complimentary sniping and distribution skills .. he scored the prettiest goal of the tournament using quick hands and maneuverability to get behind the defenseman and deke the goalie out of his pants .. Hagman was fairly invisible in the scrimmage, floating around and not moving his feet, playing the weak side too much .. Matt Stajan has better stick preparation in all three zones this camp, furthering a developing active stick .. Hagman took exception to a trip from Schenn and gave the second year rearguard a tap in the back of the leg.
After the flood:
Komisarek starts a lot of plays from a stationary position, not just from behind the net .. Hagman found his legs after the scrimmage and was constantly in motion (he should talk to Komisarek about that) .. Hagman/Blake unit was content to overhandle the puck, miss numerous passing options and did too much on their own .. Tomas Kaberle didnâ€™t once look at the puck when defending from a space that is longer than the reach of his stick .. Kadri noticeably struggled on faceoffs against bigger opponents (was also outmuscled along the wall) .. Kaberleâ€™s ability to slow down the play and control the pace when he has the puck is a textbook example of patience and poise .. could be a very frustrating season for Blake if he doesnâ€™t pass the puck .. been impressed with the play of Darryl Boyce, a very smart, speedy and industrious player, likely Marlies bound, but theyâ€™ll be a much better team with him on it .. Leafs goaltenders changed on the fly during scrimmage when opportunity afforded it .. Kadri started the day slow, but won over onlookers with his skills.
Ron Wilsonâ€™s press conference: pleased with the scrimmage and had a lot of good words to say about Lee Stempniak .. loves Primeau and believes he starts on a fourth line .. reiterated the â€˜he who plays best, plays.
Iâ€™ll be returning to the Mastercard Centre of Hockey Excellence tomorrow for the final day of training camp.
Iâ€™ll continue to twitter from the site about camp: @KatsHockey