The 2011 on-ice development camp of Nashville Predators prospects began on Wednesday. Newly acquired draft picks, like first-rounder Magnus Hellberg, were in attendance.
For the first hour or so, the camp really consisted of basic hockey drills. Skating was the main emphasis with the blue team on Rink A at Centennial Sportsplex. Austin Watson, Nashville's 2010 first round draft pick, looked good. He's a huge kid, listed at 6'4" and 193 lbs.
There was no doubt who the most NHL ready player was on day one. Ryan Ellis has a fantastic skill set as a defenseman. He can move the puck with ease, and has passing skills that remind me of a young Ryan Suter. His shot is heavy, and he's very agile on the ice. The only question that really is ever raised about Ellis is his size, but I don't think that's going to hinder his progress in the NHL. It hasn't done it yet.
Overall, it was a pretty successful first day for the prospects. Martin Gelinas seems to be doing a great job with the players on the ice. The rest of the camp runs through Sunday.
In other news, former Preds' superstar Paul Kariya announced his retirement on Wednesday. Kariya holds the franchise record for points in a season(85) and assists in a season(54). It's a sad day to see him retire, but it was inevitable. Kariya had problems with concussions, which caused him to sit out for the entire 2010-2011 season.
Thoughts on the RFA crisis
Early Wednesday morning, a report came out the Nashville might be in trouble with regards to the qualifying offers for their restricted free agents. According to the report, Nashville did not get the offers to the restricted free agents in time. The RFA's include Sergei Kostitsyn, Cal O'Reilly, Nick Spaling, and Matt Halischuk.
Since the report came out, there has been other news that the Preds did, in fact, complete their qualifying offers in time. There will be more to come on this story, but it would be a huge deal if the RFA's were to become UFA's because of something as routine as this process.