Negrin sticks around
Jean LeFebvre, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Believe it or not, there's a limit to the Calgary brass's praise for John Negrin.
Sure, the kid from West Vancouver gets lots of love from his bosses, but when the ginger-haired defenceman found himself all alone in front of goalie Irving Leland during Tuesday's three-on-three drill and fired the puck wide, out came the needle.
"Good dump-in," chirped head coach Mike Keenan from the bench.
That light-hearted wisecrack aside, there's plenty of evidence Negrin is a prospect in very good standing. If getting the call to hang out with the big boys during the Flames' playoff series with the San Jose Sharks five months ago isn't convincing enough, consider Tuesday's events.
While seven other prospects lugged their junior logo-emblazoned equipment bags out the Pengrowth Saddledome door, Negrin -- property of the impatiently waiting Kootenay Ice -- was staying put.
"Coming here, my goal was to make it to main camp," said Negrin, the 70th overall selection in the '07 draft. "I wanted to stay here as long as I could, so I'm obviously very happy to be here."
Negrin, one of just two teenagers remaining in camp (Swedish pivot Mikael Backlund is the other), was taken aback to see Mitch Wahl, Greg Nemisz, Keith Aulie, Ryley Grantham, Per Jonsson, T.J. Brodie and Lance Bouma depart the scene Tuesday.
"We had no idea," he admitted. "I thought camp was going on for a couple more days and then a couple of junior guys told me they were headed home. No one had told me anything, but my stuff was still in my stall, so I guess I was staying."
The others? Well, at least they'll have good stories to tell their junior teammates.
"It was a lot of fun," said Wahl, a second-round pick out of the Spokane Chiefs. "It was a good experience to get some games (against the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks during the rookie tournament in Camrose) and be around the guys again. It was a really good week.
"(The rookie tournament) was definitely competitive and coaches like to see that because, you know, the scouts have seen you, but the coaches haven't seen you in any games yet. It was good for us to be in that competitive environment. Hopefully, you can take (the experience and lessons learned) back to your junior league and just run with it."
Despite the brevity of their stay -- it was just Saturday that prospect camp started -- several members of the '08 draft class make an impression on the note-takers.
"(The summer) development camp is what it is," noted assistant coach Wayne Fleming. "It's a skill-development, Calgary Flames orientation type of camp. When you get into the competition part of it, you get a better read.
"Lance Bouma is one we felt played very well. Ryley Grantham is another one. They don't catch your eye when they're going up and down the ice stickhandling around pylons, but when the heavy going (begins) and you need people to step up, those are two examples of guys who really caught our eye once the competition actually started."
Brodie, a fourth-round pick from Saginaw of the Ontario junior loop, also left a bookmark in the coaches' memory banks.
"The thing about Brodie is that he can skate so well -- with his head up," said assistant coach Jim Playfair after Brodie's strong effort in Monday's 6-3 win over the Canucks rookies. "He's as fast with the puck as he is without the puck. Lots of times, players seem to slow down when they push the puck around the ice. That's what makes Brodie so good -- he can skate with the puck, he makes good plays. He's a real, real nice player."
Lines of Fire: The remaining prospects are back on Saddledome ice this morning. Thursday's session will be held at the Max Bell Centre . . . G Leland Irving and LW Kyle Greentree, who made early exits from rookie-tournament games, were both practising at full steam Tuesday.
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Read Jean Lefebvre's take on the latest cuts on the Flames Insider
© The Calgary Herald 2008