Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Roster spots still up for grabs

  • My goaltending knowledge is limited, but Brodan Salmond has, in my opinion, made a positive impression at Kelowna Rockets main camp. Only in his second season, one must still qualify him as a rookie considering his lack of playing time at the WHL level. Salmond, a 10th round bantam pick in 2013, bursted onto the scene last season in an effort to back up Michael Herringer when Jackson Whistle went down with two bum hips. The Rockets really had no other option. Salmond saw action in just seven games. Salmond has come into camp looking impressive and appears to be on track to solidify the back up spot. Clearly the soft spoken goalie has made some hug strides with his game this off season. Salmond sports new pads and gloves too. What Salmond must do, now, is push Herringer to be better. Don't be satisfied with second best. Secure the backup spot but really pressure/push Herringer for the number one duties. If Salmond can do that, it benefits him, Herringer and the team. 
  • It is abundantly clear that 18 year-old forward Jake Kryski will start the season at centre. Kryski spent the majority of last season in a Kamloops Blazers uniform playing the wing.  It will be interesting to see who Kryski plays with this season. Considered a shooter by some, does he find himself with a passing winger? Is the Rockets best passing winger Nick Merkley? Ask Rourke Chartier how much success he had playing with Merkley. It would be interesting to see if those two play together and if chemistry can be formed.
  • Who is #1 wearing a blue jersey at main camp this week? Wait a second, let me look at my line-up sheet. He sure looks poised. Oh, it's 15 year-old Kaedan Korczak according to my program. I really, really like this player. Sorry for the premature hype, but this guy has game.  
  • I had to look the other day at my line-up sheet to see who was wearing #5 in blue. It turned out to be Kelvin Hair. Is the 16 year-old rookie ready to make a jump into the deep end of the pool this season? Hair is a 6th round bantam pick from two seasons ago and played at Okanagan Hockey Academy. Does he have a shot to make the team? Let's see what he does in pre-season if he indeed is around to get his feet wet. 
  • Training camp isn't only a great time for the player to get up to speed for another WHL season, but the officials can also fine tune their game. Kelowna referee Steve Papp has been working out the kinks and getting up to game speed by officiating the Rockets scrimmages. It is a nice resource for the players to have as Papp communicates with them on what will and won't be tolerated when the real season starts.  
  • I am not sure what changes have been made over the course of the summer at Prospera Place, but the speaker system really needs an upgrade. I hope it has been addressed to make the sound clearer.  Louder doesn't necessarily mean better. If it is crisp and clear, it doesn't need to rattle the China Cabinet.  
  • NHL players living in Kelowna often skate at Prospera Place before one by one, leaving for their respective teams for the upcoming season. On Monday, the likes of Brent Seabrook, Tyler Myers, Justin Schultz, Luke Schenn, Josh Gorges, Blake Comeau and Andrew Ladd were involved in a high paced workout. Jordon Tootoo was there along with goaltenders James Reimer, Leland Irving and Devan Dubnyk. 
  • Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey has admitted his team will have to score by committee this season. Is that so bad? Is it not better to have six players score 15 or more goals than two players who score 30 or more? The 2015 WHL championship Kelowna Rockets had 8 players with 15 or more goals. Only one player had 40 goals or more. Who was it? Rourke Chartier (48). 
  • I was once criticized by a listener for playing favourites. This individual thought I spoke more glowingly about one player over another. Truth is they may be right. I gravitate to players that work hard no matter what the skill set. If you put the team above yourself and play as hard when the puck is off your stick then on it, you've got me hooked. The prototypical team players look like Ryan Cuthbert, Brett Palin and Josh Gorges. Is it any wonder that all three are former captains?    

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