Canucks prospects look to impress at development camp
It may be near the end of June, but hockey is the only thing on the minds of the 26 Canuck prospects taking part in development camp at UBC this week.
The intensity was high for the first on-ice practice of camp, where it didn't take long players to find their groove.
"I think everyone wants to stand out a little bit more, so when you get out there and you have a bunch of battle drills, guys are going to go hard and it's just the way of the game," 2018 draft pick Tyler Madden said.
The energy is something that has even impressed members of the camp's coaching staff, like Utica Comets general manager Ryan Johnson.
"Seeing some of our younger blood in these competitive drills and in these environments, it makes you realize these guys aren't that far off. It's just little things, the maturity and development from an off ice side of things. But today I was really encouraged by our compete level and how dialed in when you think of where we are in June," Johnson said.
While it's the second, or even third time in attendance for some players, it's the first for others, like Ethan Keppen, who was drafted in the fourth round by the club over the weekend.
"I'm one of the youngest guys here, competing with guys older than me, but I get to learn a lot from a lot of prospects," Keppen told CTV News. "There's a couple guys who are signed to the Vancouver Canucks and are leading by example, so I'm following them and learning a lot."
The camp is a second part of a whirlwind week for Keppen, and others, who were recently drafted. That moment of Saturday is one he says he won't soon forget.
"Getting my name called last Saturday was incredible, the whole building erupted, it felt really special to me," Keppen said. "It was really cool to get my named called by the Vancouver Canucks and I'm very happy I got to share it with my family here."
Nils Hoglander also had his name called Saturday, in the second round by the Canucks. At 5'9", the Swede is on the smaller side, but feels his speed makes up for his size.
The forward is using the camp to not only learn the North American game, but also get feedback from the coaching staff.
"I talked to the coach a little bit and they say to me things I need to work on," Hoglander said. "Be faster, straightforward. I have a good first step, but be more straightforward, that can be better."
Hoglander also has a reputation of working out just as hard off the ice as he does on.
He's also creative, filling his spare time with juggling, riding a unicycle and perfecting a skill not many players have mastered – scoring a "lacrosse style" goal, which he did last season in the Swedish Hockey League.
"I like to do that, and I did it when I was young and now too. I tried it a few times, but that was the first time it was a goal," Hoglander explained.
And the coaching staff likes what they see.
"Everything he does, he does with pace and jump and excitement. He always has a smile on his face, and you can tell he loves the game and he has a special skill set," Johnson said. "I think he has a dynamic we need here in Vancouver."