(Ottawa native Cody Ceci was the Senators' first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft held in Pittsburgh. The Ottawa 67's defenceman will provide readers with some thoughts about his first Senators development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).
|Cody Ceci's first Sens development camp provided him with a wealth of knowledge he'll take with him and use as part of his training.
We finished off development camp with a 3-on-3 tournament this morning and it was a real competitive way to end to our week. I’ve never played in that competitive a 3-on-3 before. But it was a lot of fun to try new things with it and it was a pretty cool way to set it up for us.
After a hard week, everyone was pretty tired this morning. You try to rest some when it's not your turn to be on the ice but at the same time, you’re trying to give everything you’ve got left in the tank and have some fun while you're doing it.
While I'll probably take away most from this week is that we just learned a ton about becoming a pro. Now it’s a matter of what you do with all that information they gave you and they've made everything available to us to keep using in the future. They’ve given us all the tools, now we’ve just got to work with them.
I have a lot of great memories from this camp. We did a lot of cool stuff. We did everything from working in hostage situations to cooking class to boxing — we did it all this week and it was a lot of fun. Even the scavenger hunt yesterday downtown on Canada Day, that was fun, too. We had a lot of fun taking pictures and bringing them back. This whole camp was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to coming back here again.
This past week was tough on the body, so it’s time now to take it easy for a few days and train lightly. From there on in, I'll be getting ready for the world junior camp that's coming up in Russia. And finally, thanks to everyone who took time to read my thoughts this week. See you all again soon at the rink!
If it's Christmas time, it must also be world juniors time. Such is the lure of a holiday tradition that — thanks in great part to broadcast partner TSN — has come to capture the imagination of Canadians from coast to coast over the years. The monster ratings this tournament generates are testament to the power of it all. So, too, is the fact TSN will air a Team Canada selection camp preview show later this week. Nope, not a world juniors preview, but rather an early look at who Canada might pick to play in the event. And yes, lots of folks will eat that up.
|Forward Shane Prince is one of several Senators prospects who might get a chance to shine at the 2012 world juniors (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).|
Here's a quick primer on the countries and the Senators prospects they might well include on their final roster:
CANADA: Still hard to believe the Sens snared forward Mark Stone with a sixth-round pick (178th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The big right-winger from Winnipeg made a huge impression during Hockey Canada's summer evaluation camp and has done nothing to diminish his standing with his play so far this season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. Stone is the top scorer in all of Canadian junior hockey (25-36-61), scoring at almost a two point per game clip. He and Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs made sweet music together in the summer camp, and both are on the invite roster for Canada's final selection camp Dec. 10-14 in Calgary.
UNITED STATES: Ottawa 67's fans know all about the exploits of left-winger Shane Prince, a native of Spencerport, N.Y., and a second-round pick (61st overall) by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Prince, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury at the season's outset, has recovered well enough to rack up 36 points (14-22) for the 67's in 23 games, including a five-point game in Friday's 7-6 win over the Peterborugh Petes. Prince was a standout in Team USA's summer camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., and led all Senators prospects in scoring during the rookie tournament in September in Oshawa, Ont. Team USA's camp begins Dec. 17 in Camrose, Alta., with the final roster being chosen five days later.
SWEDEN: Centre Mika Zibanejad impressed Senators management so much in training camp, they kept him around for nine regular-season games in Ottawa before eventually deciding to return him to Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League. Ottawa's top pick (sixth overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was named today to Sweden's 23-man roster for the WJC, a group that also included Sens defence prospect Fredrik Claesson, also a 2011 draftee (fifth round, 126th overall) and a teammate of Zibanejad's with Djurgarden.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Left-winger Jakub Culek, a third-rounder (76th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is on his country's preliminary roster for the 2012 world juniors. Culek, who's record 19 points (6-13) for the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League so far this season, represented the Czechs a year ago at the WJC in Buffalo, recording a goal and an assist.
David Rundblad beams at the prospect of facing off against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. And not just because it would mark his official National Hockey League debut in an Ottawa Senators uniform.
Nope, if you know anything about Rundblad's background and the makeup of the Red Wings roster, you know why this one would be extra special for the 20-year-old blueliner from Lycksele, Sweden.
"It's going to be amazing, especially because it's against Detroit," Rundblad said with an eye toward Friday's season-opener at Joe Louis Arena in the Motor City. "They have many, many great Swedes ... (Nick) Lidstrom and everybody. If I'm going to play, it's going to be a great feeling."
'Everybody' in this case would also include the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, a pair of prolific forwards who are revered by all supporters of the Tre Kronor. But given the position Rundblad plays, it's easy to see why he'd have a particular affinity for a certain seven-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenceman. Let's just say it would be one heck of a 21st birthday (yes, Rundblad turns the calendar on Friday).
"It's going to be huge," Rundblad said of the prospect of sharing the same ice surface as the legendary Lidstrom, who's still going strong at age 41 — and made his Red Wings debut two years after the young Senator was born. "He was an idol when I was young ... he still is an idol for me. It's almost like a dream come true."
Now it's just a question of whether Rundblad gets the nod to play on Friday. Even with veteran Matt Carkner shelved by knee surgery, the Senators still have seven blueliners in camp. So somebody has to sit against the Red Wings and it won't be rookie Jared Cowen, who's been arguably Ottawa's best defenceman throughout training camp. Rundblad's many gifts in the offensive end have earned raves from Senators management, but it's his play in his own end that has given head coach Paul MacLean cause for concern. However, the Ottawa bench boss spoke highly of his final pre-season audition in Boston last Thursday.
"He was more involved physically and I thought it was his best game through training camp," said MacLean. "He really started to make plays with the puck when he got involved physicallyt in the game. That was a good sign. He played well defensively and he did a lot of good things with the puck to elude checks and to make exit passes for us in the third period. When we started to play real well, he was part of moving the puck out of our end and making good decisions."
Or, as GM Bryan Murray, put it: "David's got the big upside offensively. Now he just has to bring it every night."
And yes, Friday night would be just as good a place as any to start. And that's not just, ahem, idol chatter.
He's already been to his first Senators development camp. Signed his first NHL contract. Put on a show for the Ottawa prospects in their rookie tournament triumph last weekend in Oshawa.
But Mika Zibanejad's "welcome to the NHL moment" officially came just before noon on Saturday morning at the Bell Sensplex, when he hit the ice with a player who's an idol to the Senators top pick (sixth overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Call it one Swede moment, indeed, for an 18-year-old who has a very large future in Ottawa.
"You've got to pinch yourself on the arm every time you see him on the ice the same time as you," Zibanejad said of sharing practice ice with Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "It was a dream coming true, for sure."
It's early, but the greatest player in Senators history already has a rather favourable impression of the young fella.
"He's a powerful skater and strong on the puck," said Alfredsson who, at 38, is more than twice Zibanejad's age. "It's hard to (judge) after one practice, but it's fun to be out there with him. He's quite a bit younger than I am, so I'm hopefully going to let him do the backchecking" (yes, the captain was grinning by the end of that comment).
At a training camp teeming with hot young prospects, Zibanejad will clearly be a young man to watch. He and France native Stephane Da Costa — another rookie tournament standout — figure to get a long look by the Senators in terms of filling the No. 2 centre hole (a position that Danish native Peter Regin also covets).
"They're two guys who are in the competition for that job," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said in reference to the two youngsters. "Neither one of them might be ready, so who's to say? We know the three games in Oshawa, they both played real well and showed real well. We're going to monitor them closely through the exhibition season and if one of them is ready to play, we'll give them the opportunity. If not, then we'll have to do something else."
If Zibanejad doesn't make the cut, he'll head back to Sweden to fulfill the final year of his contract with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League. And what a story he'd have to tell about his first Senators training camp.