Claude Noel is playing the observer, not the evaluator at the Winnipeg Jets Development Camp.
And so far the Jets head coach likes what he sees from the 38 prospects who have been gathering this week at MTS Iceplex.
"It’s been good, I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve been impressed with what (Jet Coordinator of Player Development) Jimmy Roy has done," said Noel after watching the two sessions of the Jets’ D-Camp. "It’s really not an evaluation process, it’s about learning to become a pro. And I’m really interested in seeing some of the young players from last year and seeing them now how they improved, how their skills have gotten better and they’ve got a little bigger."
Here are Noel’s thoughts on a few issues:
- On Jacob Trouba, the Jets’ first-round draft pick from this June:
"I like him. Big guy. I met Jacob at the draft and got the chance to talk to him. He looks good. He looks good out here. I like to watch players think in drills and see their hockey sense. We haven’t done a whole lot of that, but I really like him a lot. He shoots the puck really well. I like the way he’s worked along with a lot of other guys."
- On Mark Scheifele, the club’s first pick from a year ago:
"He’s gotten a little heavier. But we’re sitting here in July and I’m not making too many assessments or evaluations on how they look now. I don’t sit here and look at Mark and say, ‘Well, Mark looks a lot closer now or he’s not closer or I’m disappointed he’s this or that.’ I don’t assess or evaluate in those scenarios. He looks more comfortable. He looks fit. He looks like he’s preparing himself. But I think we have to wait to see what takes place in September and go from there. There’s just too much stuff between that can take place."
- On the life lessons the players are learning away from hockey this week, like cooking and nutrition:
"There’s a lot of facets that really help players. I think Jimmy’s done a good job in a lot of areas, on the ice and off the ice. It’s really hard to expect a 19-year-old to come into training camp and all of a sudden know everything and embrace it and say, ‘OK, I’m ready to go now.’ They don’t have as much experience and a lot of times when you’re younger you don’t understand the level of commitment that is required to play at this level. Usually they go through one training camp, maybe a second, before the realize how tough it is and how hard the NHL players work and invest."
The Jets prospects are split into two groups, the first of which will be on the ice at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning, the second following at 11 a.m. The camp wraps up Friday with all the players on the ice at 10:30 a.m.