Follow Notch's observations all week long at the Leaf's rookie tournament in Kitchener.


It’s morning now and after a terrible sleep at my parents' house, I am ready to recap Monday's events...


In Kitchener at the Memorial Auditorium - or the Aud as it is referred to locally - to watch the Ottawa prospects take on the Pittsburgh prospects.  Great seats, first row and right beside the tunnel where the players come in and out.


My eyes first went to the goalies to see who was in the nets.  Robin Lehner for Ottawa and Brad Thiessen for Pittsburgh.  I paid a looney for a single piece of paper that has the rosters for all four teams in this mini-tourney.


Since Ottawa won the game 3-1, I will start with them. Once again and with the same wording, Lehner is massive.  He fills up so much of the net when he goes into his deep crouch.  He is down every shot no matter where it comes from.  When he is down in his full or half butterfly, good luck getting anything in along the ice or 11 inches off it.  He has is covered.  When he is down, his body is high, upright and square.  He ate up a majority of the shots with no rebound.  He did let a couple rebounds out that stud NHL goalies wouldn’t have, but he recovered well and got right back into position if the next shot was coming. Lehner had to make a bunch of quick reaction saves on Ottawa giveaways and he made them with ease.  Very, very impressive.  He reads the play so well.


In order of how much the players impressed me:


Erik Karlsson has to be next.  I don’t see it anymore; he is not as small as people say.  He has a baby-face, sure, but he is not tiny out there.  When I first got to the rink he was in the penalty box, four feet away from me. Anyways, once his penalty is over he steps out of the box and promptly gets a partial breakaway.  He skates in with his smooth stride, I am expecting great things and  just as he is about to pick a spot to shoot, the puck takes a bad bounce and goes off into the corner. He made up for it very quickly.  His passes are phenomenal, NHL-ready.  He led a couple rushes and made passes through sticks and bodies right onto the tape of his teammates. Early in the second period he is sitting at the top of the Pittsburgh blueline watching Peter Regin play with the puck. Regin fed a soft pass over to Karlsson and with one quick motion, a one-timer is fired on net that the goalie doesn’t even try and move for. The puck was already by him before he could react. Everyone knows the struggles Ottawa had on offense last year was due to one reason and one reason only - no puck-moving defenseman;

Problem solved.

Karlsson reminds me of Brian Rafalski; a perfect match, those two.  Be happy Sens fans, Karlsson will be fun to watch for years to come.  He did get caught pinching a couple times in the neutral zone which led to two odd man rushes, so there is room for improvement. Pair him with Phillips, Volchenkov or any veteran presence and you can just tell he will be a sponge and soak in their knowledge. Almost forgot, Karlsson was the defenseman on a 3 – 1 against, Eric Tangradi was the puck carrier who tried to feed a cross-crease pass for a tap in, Karlsson went down blocked the pass, Lehner covered it. No shot on goal. It was textbook.


Peter Regin – Contrary to my previous post.  His skating stride looks fine now. He is shifty with his feet and when you add that to his creative hands you have a pretty slick combination. He was the first forward back on numerous occasions and I was very impressed. He is back to being the leading forward candidate to make the big club this year.


Jason Bailey and Brendon Svendsen are hard workers who can skate, skate, skate.

I liked their hustle that they add to their decent skill set.  Great pickups for Bingo, who can fill in admirably if multiple injuries were to fall upon Ottawa this year.


Zack Smith was the captain in today’s game for Ottawa and he showed why.  A third period fight showed his heart after the refs broke up an earlier attempt at fisticuffs, minors were given. Once the coincidental minors were served Smith skated right over to Zach Sill from Pittsburgh and the fight was on. Lots of heart but that is it. Mike Fisher anyone?


Casey Lee – I liked this kid last night. He played in the University of Saskatewan last year and for some reason I can’t find how Ottawa grabbed him.  My guess is another Bryan Murray tryout or undrafted player that he found.  Either way, he caught my attention.  Made a great play behind the Pittsburgh goal, fed a pass out front to a wide open Jim O’Brien who promptly missed an equally wide open net. He absolutely crushed two Penguins into the boards. He was a mainstay on the PK and was always in the shooting lane with an active stick to deflect passes.


Jim O’Brien – What happened?  Where were you?  Do you like long bus rides?

Disappointed to say the least, I was.  He didn’t seem motivated, was sloppy with the puck on his stick, when he did get rid of the puck on pass attempts, he was way off.  He got pushed off the puck too easy and never really seemed like he wanted to fight or work hard. That is the opposite of every scouting report I have ever heard on him. What gives?


Collin Bowman – Just wanted to give you props if you are reading this, great job sticking up for Lehner and his crease when a Pittsburgh player shot the puck into the vacated net on a delayed penalty call. Any player that breaks the force field needs to be dealt with. I think only goalies will know what I am talking about there.


Onto the Pittsburgh Penguin prospects:


John Curry is not at this tourney.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel did not play this game.


The Tangradi vs. Caputi debate – Luca Caputi did not play.

Eric Tangradi showed me nothing at all to be excited about.  He got knocked off the puck by smaller defenseman, didn’t really compete. Floated around the neutral zone, waiting for his opportunities. In the offensive zone, the puck does find him a lot; he must position himself in the right areas because he did get chances. Lehner shut everything down on him.  He has quite the shot and did get a wrister by Lehner's glove once, but not the post.


Because of my great seats, I was able to talk to many trainers, equipment guys and one Aud worker particular who is in the know.  I have a feeling the reason Caputi did not play this game and Tangradi did, is because they have seen enough from Caputi.  Enough good things that is. Against Toronto, I was told that Caputi hit everything in sight and had many great chances as he flew around the ice. The goalies in that Toronto/Pittsburgh game stole the show and then Caputi was next. Tangradi was invisible in that game as well says the Aud worker. Do I think this worker has a grudge against Tangradi? No. He talked highly of him from his days in Belleville. Tangradi just hasn’t shown anything in the two games he has played (so says the Aud worker who will by my best friend over the next three days). Caputi did in just one game. Give the edge right now to Caputi, a huge edge.


Keven Veilleux – Big boy, didn’t use the size much though. I saw nothing that I can recommend to you guys for your leagues. I will keep watching though.


So what players did play well for Pittsburgh?  Zach Sill.  He beat up Smith in a good fight, hit everything that moved, hustled, created opportunities and was just in the center of everything. Sill played in the QMJHL last year for Moncton and I will be looking more into this Sean Avery/Alex Burrows type player.


Joey Haddad form Cape Breton of the QMJHL was a beast on the boards – hitting and cycling.  Didn’t notice much offense, but I liked his play none the less.


Stay away from the goalie Brad Thiessen.   I think the Pittsburgh brass is saying the same thing.


Pittsburgh showed no life in this game (or the one against Toronto, I am told).


I hope you all enjoyed this.  I will probably post some more as I remember them.  Please remember I am not a writer, far from it.  I am just a fan who is trying to help.  I hope I did.


My next game is Wednesday at 2PM, Ottawa vs. Boston



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Comments (19)add comment

Chris Burns said:

Notch is Lying Notch still lives at home so he didn't have a terrible sleep there ... in fact he starts everyday by saying "Mommy ... I want some cinnamon toast"
September 09, 2009
Votes: +0

Adam said:

thanks notch! thanks for taking the time to not only take in the games but give us all some very insightful feedback.

keep up the great work!
September 09, 2009
Votes: +0

Dennis said:

... I have heard and read the opposit about Caputi and Tangradi! very interesting!
This is the first time i see an article where Caputi is ahead of Tangradi.

Btw i think both will be in the AHL most of the time next season!
September 09, 2009
Votes: +1

DuklaNation said:

... Good job, appreciate the valuable insight.!
September 09, 2009
Votes: +0

Mike said:

... Thanks. Appreciate the feedback
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

Colin Jackson said:

... So let me get this straight, a regular forum user decides to use their own time to report back on what they see, for the benefit of those of us who can't go there; and all you can think to do is complain that they aren't a "legitimate writer". I don't get it. Thanks Notch for the insights, keep 'em coming!
September 08, 2009
Votes: +2

saints said:

... ok..i will retract...can we get legitimate "hockey writers" writing..? honestly..."an aud worker in the know"?
September 08, 2009
Votes: -2

sentium said:

... Real writers? What defines someone as a real writer?
September 08, 2009
Votes: +1
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

sentium said:

... Hey Notch, great writing! Don't put your writing skills down smilies/smiley.gif If you're going to the Toronto - Ottawa game on Thursday, could you look out a bit extra for the Leafs #45, LW Viktor Stalberg? I hear he's crazy fast and creates stuff almost every shift, that he's a prime candidate to make the Leafs out of camp and I'd love to get your take on him.
September 08, 2009
Votes: +1

James said:

Top write up Thanks, made for a great reader.
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

Maximus said:

Mr Zizzla
Robinson I was also at the pens vs. sens game and was very very impressed by Karlsson and Lehner. Lehner was a GIANT in the net and he gave nothing up to Pens shooters.

What did you think of the D-man Mat Robinson for Ottawa? He was flying around the ice and creating a lot of chances not to mention leading many rushes into the Pens' zone. I haven't heard much about him until i saw him at this game.

Zach Sill was a wrecking ball as he was crushing every white jersey on the ice but do you think he has as much of an upside of Alex Burrows or is he more of an high energy bottom 6er?
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

Mike said:

... well done, interesting take on karlsson
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

bizzl said:

... Great article! I'm going to see if I can bail on Thiessen and pick up Lehner off the waiver wire. What about Thiessen was so bad?
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

Svendsen So, what do you think Svendsen will do as a pro? What's his NHL future, if any? The reason I am still skeptical is that his first 3 seasons in college were not really productive, and last season and in this camp he is pretty much an overager (he's 24). So is his success in camp the real deal?
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

Orr in the Making said:

... Love the Karlsson updates. Nice job. Scoresheet?
September 08, 2009
Votes: +1

SM said:

Thanks Great read, really appreciate the first hand info!
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

loco man said:

loco man
... Great inside info on Caputi/Tangradi, Notch.
I am watching to see which one of these kids I should grab. This helps a lot. I look forward to your next write up!!
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0

Jake said:

Thanks Great insight, Notch, especially with the Caputi/Tangradi debate. Also, you're making feel real good about picking Karlsson in my entry draft this year. Thanks and keep the info coming.
September 08, 2009
Votes: +0
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