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A look back at Rookie Camp…

The on-ice portion of the Nashville Predators 2009 Developmental Camp has ended with 30 players looking for either a roster spot, a pro contract or, at the very least, to have made an impression.

The biggest impression was made by, arguably, the two players who were “expected” to make the biggest impression: Boston University center Colin Wilson and the Predators 2009 1st round pick Ryan Ellis.

Despite the impact that both players made, they both have different destinations come October. Ellis is slated to rejoin his Memorial Cup Champion teammates in Windsor, Ontario. Wilson, on the other hand, will be fighting for an NHL roster spot at training camp in September.

And, even though he knows that, he’s not taking anything for granted.

“The coaches are always watching and even at rookie camp you have to be making an impression,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re impressing them all the time.”

Other players that had great showings this past week were Blake Geoffrion, Jonathon Blum, Zach Budish and, the only free agent invite, Casey Wellman.

The lone free agent invite Casey Wellman made an impression at Rookie Camp.

The lone free agent invite Casey Wellman made an impression at Rookie Camp this week.

The 6-foot, 175 lb forward showed an intense work ethic, above-average speed and a deceiving shot that handcuffed his goalie teammates regularly. He participated in the drills this week as if he were fighting for a roster spot on the big club but, when asked, he said he’s looking forward to returning to UMass-Amherst for his Sophomore season.

He must know how important first impressions can be.

“I just try to work my hardest and be myself,” Wellman said. “And I try to show them the role I can play on the team. Hopefully things (went) well.”

Saturday’s on-ice session saw a massive turn out by Predators fans and the rookies didn’t disappoint. After numerous drills, the players divided into teams and competed in a shootout with 2006 2nd round pick Geoffrion netting the winner in sudden death.

And while Geoffrion had a good showing on Saturday, it was 2007 2nd round pick Jeremy Smith who shined the brightest.

Smith came up with several breathtaking stops early in the session and then wowed the crowd with an amazing diving glove save in the final drill that, a split second earlier, was just open net.

“This year I came in to work hard and really show off how hard I’ve worked,” Smith said after Saturday’s on-ice portion of camp. “We still have half the summer left and then it’s on to main camp and I’m excited.”

If he can have consistent performances matching what he did on Saturday, Smith should be an asset for the organization for years to come.

In short, fans got to see the up-an-coming Preds prospects live and in person this week while the prospects got to show the coaching staff and front office what they could offer the organization in the years to come.

In Wilson’s case, that “years to come” could be changed to “this year.”

September can’t get here soon enough.


PHOTO CREDITS: Brooke Holland, special for