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Canucks 2024 Development Camp notebook: Day One

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Photo credit:@terrierhockey on IG
Dave Hall
11 days ago
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While upper management was bolstering their roster for the main club on Free Agent Frenzy day, newly hired Abbotsford Canucks Head Coach Manny Malhotra and the rest of the development staff took the ice for Development Camp.
Unlike previous years, the team brought in fewer invitees, reducing from 60 skaters last year to just 28. This regime has been steady in recognizing the importance of being connected throughout the entire organization, and cutting development camp is their way of allowing for more one-on-one time.
“It’s definitely by design,” Malhotra explained after practice. “It’s one thing to say you’re having development and bring 40 guys in where you may have less contact individually with them, may have fewer conversations with the guys. Whereas here again, with the number of staff that we have, we feel we have the opportunity to work with guys in smaller settings, smaller groups. Get them the repetitions and the touches that they need. Thus making it more beneficial to them and really making it evoke their development.”
The day’s drills were fast-paced, focusing on small ice and quick touch plays. There were obvious signs of jitters and rust as players adjusted to their new gear, environment, and the complexity of the drills. But that’s expected, considering the circumstances.
In some cases, players come fresh off planes, some straight from the whirlwind of being drafted, and in many other situations. Rather than worrying about first practice jitters, Malhotra emphasized the importance of taking the week in and enjoying the experience.
“There’s the nerves of just coming to a development camp, but I think the message for them has been to take it all in. Be a sponge.”

Quotables and Observations

Josh Bloom stood out immediately with a noticeable pep in his step. He set the pace in all drills and was one of the more vocal skaters on the ice. Now in his fourth Development camp, Bloom is considered somewhat of a veteran among this group and feels excited to bestow some of his experience on the group.
“I think the biggest thing is to get into the organization and get equipped for everything here. I think learning about the staff, learning everybody’s name and kind of finding out what Vancouver is all about is the most important part about being here.”
Reflecting on his Memorial Cup-clinching goal, Bloom chuckled, “Definitely still thinking about it, still rewatching it back. It’s a pretty special moment in my life. So I’m kind of all settled in now and getting ready for next season again.”
Bloom had high praise for his former North Bay Battalion teammate and newly drafted Anthony Romani: “Heck of a hockey player. I was surprised we got him where we did, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s a part of this organization. First-class human and a fantastic hockey player.”
**Considered the camp’s crown jewel, Tom Willander’s skating ability stood out immediately. Shocker. In any given drill, it did not take long to spot number 51, as his skating ability and generally being a step above the pack was highly visible – as it should be from a highly touted first-rounder.
He also showed off some soft hands for the crowd.
On top of his on-ice performance, he displayed tons of confidence off the ice and felt comfortable in his second development camp. He even expressed eagerness to share his experiences with some of the newer recruits and act as a leader.
As far as his transition, he was happy with how things went in his first year at Boston University.
“I think it’s been pretty smooth. Just from my standpoint, I don’t think I’ve had too much trouble. But obviously, there is some acclimation period, and I think I’m through that and I think I’ve got a good platform to work on next season,” Willander said.
Playing in so many “big moment” games this season – WJC Silver Medal, Beanpot and Frozen Four – we were curious what sort of things Willander took from all of the experience from his draft-plus-one season.
“Just like the quickness in the game and how fast we want to transition and do stuff. I think it was a big one. But then also, of course, just individual parts of my game, working on details, really anywhere on the ice.”
Like Willander, we were impressed with Sawyer Mynio’s skating ability and smooth approach to his game. Coming off of a huge offensive year with the Seattle Thunderbirds, during which he contributed 16 goals and 53 points, we had to ask him what led to the boom in production.
“I think I’ve always kind of had that in my bag,” Mynio said. “Two years ago, when we [Seattle Thunderbirds] won the championship, I had a different role on the team. All those guys moved on last year, I had powerplay opportunities and a bigger role stepped up, and I just took advantage of it.”
We’ve been impressed with his game all season long, especially as a third-round draft pick.

Quick thoughts on the 2024 draftees

Fourth-rounder Riley Patterson was a standout among the freshly drafted crop. Despite initial confusion on our end due to a mismatched helmet number, Patterson impressed us with his hard work, impressive skating, and a shot that had some zing. We’re excited to see more from him this week.
Melvin Fernström showed promise but also some nerves, which is expected. Overall, he came in as advertised and had a few sequences where he showed off his shooting ability.
Of course, there were also moments where noted skating deficiencies were present. His stride feels somewhat choppy, and his edges certainly need some work (somewhat shown in one clip below).
We will do our best to get as many videos as possible throughout the week.
We did not get as many videos of Anthony Romani or Parker Alcos, but we will make sure to focus on them tomorrow.
We did, however, get a quick glimpse of the 6-foot-4 Basile Sansonnens.

Looking Ahead

Day two (Tuesday) will offer a longer and more broken-up opportunity to get a closer look at each player, so we will have much more videos and notes.
  • Group session: 10:00 am – 11:20 am (multiple rinks)
  • Small Area Games: 11:40 am – 12:30 pm (multiple rinks)
Comment below for players you are interested in getting a deeper look or insights on, and we will do our best to cover as many as possible.
 

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