There was a bit of a delay to the start of day two of Avalanche rookie camp. However, the atmosphere was jovial. By 10:30 AM all of Monday’s participants were skating on the ice. There was however a new addition. Alexis Pepin, who is nursing a shoulder injury, took part of the beginning of the practice wearing a red non-contact sweater.
The coaches, which included Adam Foote today, demanded perfection from the players. The crispness of the beginning of the session was somewhat lacking (though ice conditions certainly did not help). After about 20 minutes into the practice, Alexis Pepin appeared to be laboring and left the ice and headed to the locker room. His status is unknown. Also missing from the festivities is center Julien Nantel, who is recovering from an undisclosed injury.
Throughout the practice, the coaches had little problem interrupting drills for some on ice learning. At the conclusion of the session, the players participated in a bag skate that lasted a good 10 minutes.
Here are my thoughts on some players who I thought stood out. If you have a question about a particular player, please post a comment below or hit me up on Twitter (@Jori5280).
The Avs 2014 first rounder has the skill set that makes a camp such as this a less than preferable setting. He’s a more effective skater than given credit and he’s not afraid to battle in the corners and in front of the net. It’s really difficult to grade him until he skates with the veterans this weekend. Some of the defenders, such as Duncan Siemens and Mason Geertsen, are giving him a good challenge.
Siemens, who just turned 21, is at a precarious point of his career. He was limited to 46 games with the Lake Erie Monsters last season and faces an uphill battle to earn a position with the Avs opening night roster. Siemens is likely to be an injury call up, but he has looked strong in the first two days of rookie camp; physically standing up to guys like Bleackley. There were some cracks in the wall on Tuesday, specifically on two-on-two drills in which Nate Condon blew by him to earn a great scoring chance. Yet, he’s healthy and strong which will only bode well for him this season with the Monsters.
One of the darlings of Monday’s session, Smith was held relatively in check on Tuesday morning. His skating was not as fluid and his lack of focus was noticeable in receiving passes (to be fair, the ice conditions could be a contributing factor, but his play was not as crisp). He was easily contained by larger defenders and had difficulty getting shots on net.
Like last year, Bigras is putting up a strong push in camp. Bigras has already earned an entry-level contract (which the Avs can allow to slide for another season). While he isn’t the most physical of defenders, he’s smart positionally (stick work continues to be a strength). Though, Trevor Cheek did get the better of him in one of the drills this morning.
Mason Geertsen doesn’t steal headlines like more flashy prospects; few defensive defenseman do. Yet, like Duncan Siemens he could one day fill a needed role as a rugged defender for the Avalanche down the road. He’s a strong and physical presence and at the peak of conditioning. He was one of the few players who got through the Avs post practice bag skate without gasping for air. Geertsen was successful in keeping most of the forwards he faced in check; specifically Bleackley and Rendulic.
Rendulic is an intriguing talent; a strong skater with a nice set of hands. He is good at stabilizing defenders on the rush. However, in tighter corners he has struggled. Naturally this will be adjustment playing on North American ice with more North American players.
Others who stood out in a positive light included Troy Bourke, Trevor Cheek, and Nate Condon.