Canes coach Bill Peters was talking about prospects camp Friday when asked what players have caught his eye.
Peters began ticking off names, in no particular order, with rapid-fire observations and first impressions:
Janne Kuokkanen: “Outstanding, with pace and hockey sense.”
Julien Gauthier: “His willingness and desire to score.”
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Jake Bean: “His hockey sense is unbelievable.”
Haydn Fleury: “Bigger, stronger, faster.”
Alex Nedeljkovic: “His motion, how tight he is in net.”
Josh Wesley: “Lots of progression there.”
Max Zimmer: “He skates, an elite skater.”
Valentin Zykov: “Really excited about his ability to play a heavy game down low.”
Luke Stevens and David Cotton: “The ability to play at that size is important.”
Nicolas Roy: “Stronger, bigger and he’s leaner.”
“It goes on and on and on,” Peters said. “We’re so much deeper now than we were two years ago at this time. It’s night and day.”
Bean came to camp as the Canes’ highest draft pick this year, 13th overall. Peters, in turn, said the defenseman reminds him of Jared Spurgeon of the Minnesota Wild, who played three seasons for Peters with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL.
“Hockey sense, vision, ability to make plays,” Peters said. “So smart defensively that size isn’t an issue.”
The prospects were set to put a cap on camp Saturday with a scrimmage at PNC Arena as part of the fans’ Summerfest. But Peters already has gotten an eyeful, not just individually but as a group.
“The overall depth of our program is better,” he said. “My first year, not being disrespectful, but if there were four of five guys who were flying, they stood out. Now, the guys are flying. If you’re not flying you stand out.”
Peters said the players are conditioned now to “play the modern game,” with a lot of pace.
“For me, everyone has done a real good job here this week,” he said. “It’s been fun to sit upstairs and watch then play, to watch the pace they play at and some of the skill level.”
Peters noted he now knows all the names and faces. One camp roster initially had Max Zimmer listed as “Matt” until changed.
“I wondered why when I said ‘Matt’ he just kept skating,” Peters said, smiling. “Sometimes I’m the last guy to know.”