July 1, 2018
The annual Anaheim Ducks Development Camp concluded today at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE where a standing-room-only crowd saw top prospects in a scrimmage that finalized a week of growth for the 35 prospects in attendance.
The traditional Team Black vs. Team White scrimmage enthralled the crowd with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win with seven seconds remaining in the extra session following a wrap-around goal by recent draftee Benoit-Olivier Groulx who was selected 54th overall just eight days ago at the 2018 NHL Draft.
The scrimmage final day of Camp wrapped up a week with multiple on-ice skating sessions, off-ice workouts, power skating in addition to each player receiving a personally tailored nutritional recommendation, and testing for strength thresholds, range of movement and aerobic capacity.
Away from the rink, players had opportunities to visit the local Oakley Headquarters to learn how their visors are made and how they protect their eyes and face in addition to Huntington Beach, a game at Dodgers Stadium and other Southern California landmarks.
The 35-man roster included players with NHL experience in Jacob Larsson and Troy Terry and others with professional experience at the AHL level in Max Jones, Giovanni Fiore, Deven Sideroff, Kiefer Sherwood, Alex Dostie, Jack Kopacka and Chris Forney.
Young players attending their first camp look up to the aforementioned players for direction and guidance as they navigate new scenery, staff, expectations and teammates.
“I try to be as much of a leader as I can,” said Larsson on leading by example and taking players under his tutelage as a veteran of Development Camp. “I try to tell them how things work here, I’m trying my best [to be a leader].”
In what is his third year at Camp, Larsson is using the experience to improve his game and fitness while having the time to acclimate to new teammates joining the organization.
“It’s a great camp. You can work on all of your details and go through everything and how [the staff] want us to play,” added the 21-year old defenseman whom played 50 games with San Diego last season. “It’s really good for that. You come here and meet all the guys, trainers, prospects and guys here. It’s really a good camp.”
In an interview with AnaheimDucks.com, Terry said remembers his first development camp experience that came shortly after he was selected by the Ducks in the fifth round (148th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft at the tender age of 17.
“It feels like I just got here for my first one out of the fifth round,” he said. “I was looking up to a bunch of guys and asking questions. I know what it’s like just being here for your first development camp. There are definitely a lot of nerves.”
This is all part of the process for the now 20-year old who enjoys being a go-to source for advice as he looks to take the next step in his career.
“You just get drafted, and three days later you’re at a development camp,” he said. “It’s fun being in the role where guys will ask me things, or I can help out the younger guys in any way or make them feel comfortable and part of the organization. I know that was big for me.”
It’s is an important summer for young prospects like Larsson and Terry. To excel at the AHL or collegiate levels is one thing, but to take the next step is another. An intense off season workout plan has the 6-foot-1 forward already feeling stronger.
“It was my first year last year,” said Larsson on playing with San Diego. “It was really nice, I like to play here and I like the hockey. The goal for this summer is to get faster and strong and of course make the Ducks out of camp. It was a fun year in San Diego, it’s a nice city. Everything was perfect last year.”
Larsson said the learning curve of playing on a smaller ice surface was noticeable at first for the defenseman, as the 200×85-foot surface is smaller than the 200×100-foot international sheet in Europe.
“The ice is bigger in Sweden, especially in the D zone,” added Larsson. “I worked a lot on that with Marty (Wilford). I think that’s what I improved on most last season. I learned how to play in the D zone [in North America].”
It’s also an important year for prospects like Jones who are making the jump from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) to being professionals this upcoming season.
After making his professional debut with the Gulls in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, Jones did not meet the age requirement to play in the AHL last season and split the season between London and Kingston. As he prepares for his first true professional season, he’s focusing on how to improve his game to crack the Ducks opening night roster out of September’s training camp.
“If I want to make the (Ducks), I feel like I just have to play my game the way I do,” said Jones. “I’m weighing in at 217 pounds right now and I think that’s a good weight as long as I can skate the way I can. I should have a good shot [at making the their roster] hopefully. I think I need to improve on everything and keep improving.”
One thing is certain, Development Camp is preparing all 35 prospects to become professionals and adapt habits to eat better, train better and improve every aspect of their game to take the next step.