Ducks Camp: Youth and Experience ViewpointsSep 19, 2019
The Anaheim Ducks are winding down with training camp and transitioning into their preseason schedule. Players within the organization, both veterans and young prospects will be looking to gain some valuable experience heading into the beginning of the season. Brent Gates Jr., a rookie heading into his first full season, was able to acquire some of that in 2018-19. Following the conclusion of his NCAA career with the University of Minnesota, Gates Jr. signed an Amateur Tryout (ATO) with San Diego.
“Coming out of college, it’s kind of a different game,” said Gates Jr. regarding the transition to professional hockey. “Becoming familiar with some of the coaching staff and the other guys on the team. It definitely helped my comfortability level coming in this year. The pace of play and what is expected before the first full year pro was a big benefit for me. Getting a few games and practices under my belt, it really helped.”
Time spent with veteran players who have professional hockey experience is critical to a young prospect’s development. Surrounded by players like Corey Tropp, who has been with the San Diego Gulls since their inaugural season, incoming prospects have the privilege of learning from those who have multiple training camps under their belts. Tropp, has had success at multiple levels, but last season he saw some quality development for both young and old players.
“I think it was huge step for everybody,” said Tropp. “Our younger guys, some older guys who had career years and guys that definitely took another step in their game. That’s kind of what the American League is about. It’s about developing prospects and getting them ready for this step right now in training camp to try to make the team.”
Currently signed to an AHL deal with San Diego, Tropp could become the only player to appear in a game for San Diego in each of their five seasons. Each of those previous four seasons have featured the same head coach in Dallas Eakins. However, new Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen is another familiar face for Tropp as he heads into his 10th professional season.
“I actually played for Dineen in my rookie year so we’re pretty familiar with each other. I think he’ll be a great transition from Dallas coming in. He definitely helped mold my game and gave me the best opportunity to play in the NHL when I was young. I was very fortunate to have him as my first professional coach.”