September 02, 2012

Overview of 67's Training Camp; Roster Trimmed to 26

The Ottawa 67's are prepared for a new season after hosting their training camp and making roster cuts this week. With just six days until the team opens its pre-season against the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques, we look at the roster that the 67's will take into this year, as well as some highlights from the scrimmages that were held over the past three days at training camp.

Return of Big Mike

The team got a surprise when Michal Cajkovsky, who had signed a contract in the KHL earlier this summer, arrived at camp. The 67's, wanting to see what they had in terms of young defencemen, dressed Cajkovsky as a forward. Head Coach Chris Byrne has made it clear that Cajkovsky is likely to be moved, but with Richard Mraz having issues with his visa on top of recovering from surgery, the towering Slovak defenceman has found himself on the team for the time being.

Noteable Absences

As previously mentioned, Richard Mraz is unable to play due to injury and visa issues. Cody Ceci was present at training camp, but staying off the ice as he recovers from strep throat. Sean Monahan sat out the final three scrimmages as the team wanted to take a good look at their other centers, and Tyler Graovac is still in Minnesota and missed camp.


Mike Vlajkov will be very interesting to watch this season, and with his strong training camp, he's making a good case to play alongside Cody Ceci this year. Vlajkov never seemed to make a mistake when the puck was on his stick this week and has been a lot more physical than we’ve ever seen him. His skating has also vastly improved.

Steven Janes and Ryan Van Stralen have added a lot more finesse to their game while still playing physical. These two will be jockeying for position on the 67’s depth chart, and both of them made a good impression at the scrimmages. Janes had a hat-trick on the first day and dropped the gloves with rookie defenceman Jonathan Duchesne.

Remy Giftopoulos and Daniel Walsh are two players who will also be looking to move up in the depth chart. Both were willing to try their hand at all three forward positions and both looked much improved from last year. Although there will be a lot of depth at the position when Graovac and Monahan hit the ice, Giftopoulos was solid in his audition as a center. Walsh, who seems to have grown a fair amount and developed a more physical side, was more suited to the wing.

Taylor Davis is an interesting story. A defenceman that few had heard anything about was impressive enough to make the squad. He still faces an uphill battle for ice time this season with eight other defenders (nine if you count Cajkovsky) to compete with, but hopefully he does get into his fair share of games this year as a depth blueliner.

Nevin Guy, this year’s fourth-round selection in the OHL draft, showed some creativity from the back end and has made the team, although like Davis, will have to battle for his ice time this season.

Possible Line Combinations

Steven Janes was very exciting to watch at camp these last three days, and with no wingers set in stone to play alongside Sean Monahan on the top line, he made a very good case to play on the top unit. Janes spent a lot of time playing alongside Andrew Abou-Assaly, who many had penciled in as a first-liner for a while now. It wouldn’t hurt to have those three as a top line to start the pre-season.

While Ryan Van Stralen’s style of play is more suited to a bottom-six role, while first-round draft choice Dante Salituro is expected to be a top-six forward, the two spent a fair amount of time playing alongside one another and were two of the top players for the white team. With Monahan and Graovac coming back, Salituro may start the season on the third line, and could find himself back with Van Stralen.

As previously mentioned, Daniel Walsh and Remy Giftopoulos were both given a chance at all three forward positions, and both impressed in doing so. The two of them played alongside Janes on the first two days before Janes became a mainstay on a line with Abou-Assaly, but Giftopoulos and Walsh stuck together as a tandem for the entire training camp. Whether it’s in a bottom- or top-six role, look for them to play alongside one another early in the year.


- Abou-Assaly and Janes combined for two of the nicer goals at training camp. Late in Day Two’s final scrimmage, on a broken play in the white team’s zone, Abou-Assaly kicks the puck behind him, putting it on a tee for Janes who pops the water bottle behind Michael Nishi with a perfectly placed shot.
- On the final day, Janes returns the favour, setting up Abou-Assaly who beats goaltender Daniel Potter with a nice spin move.
- Adam Dauda takes the puck coast-to-coast, showing off a nice set of hands as he pulls the puck between his own legs and beats four defenders wide before being stopped by Potter. Dauda finishes the shift with a big hit on Jonathan Duchesne.
- Michal Cajkovsky has a wide open net, but Wilson flashes his glove out to make a highlight-reel save.

Assorted notes

- Jonathan Duchesne stood out for his physical play. Threw a lot of hits, was strong along the boards, and was more than willing to drop the gloves. He had a scrap with Steven Janes on the first day and nearly had a second with Michal Cajkovsky the next day.
- Although he was cut, defenceman Niko Kovachis made the most of his limited ice time and looked promising. He looked very similar to Cody Ceci when he was a rookie.
- Andrew Abou-Assaly’s third day of scrimmages was by far his best as he started battling for more pucks and showing a more physical side. A perfect comparable to AAA’s skill set would be Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets.
- Cajkovsky and Jake Cardwell lined up as left wingers, and while neither looked too out of place, both are clearly natural defencemen. Cajkovsky could play forward if need be for the pre-season.
- Taylor Fielding was the most physical of the players on the black team. He looks a lot more comfortable as a full-time forward and will be an effective bottom-six winger. While Nicholas Foglia will be missed, Fielding’s play will make up for the loss.
- The only flaw in Dante Salituro’s game is that he has too much of a tendency to try and win faceoffs forward to himself. Seeing as that’s the biggest issue with his game in training camp, there isn’t much to worry about concerning Ottawa’s top pick in the OHL draft. Very smart player, looks comfortable at both ends as a center and is very physical for his size. He was on the receiving end of a huge hit from Janes, but bounced up and jumped back in the play. Not too many players can take a hit like that from a player seven inches taller and 15 pounds bigger than them, but it didn’t seem to affect him at all. A lot of promise from Salituro.
- Matthieu Desautels is the kind of defenceman that is doing his job when you don’t notice any glaring mistakes in their game. He didn’t look out of place at all today and finds himself in the 10-man fold on defence, as he tries to establish himself as a stay-at-home blueliner this season.

Final Rosters as per AJ Jakubec:

Forward – Steven Janes, Ryan Van Stralen, Tyler Graovac, Richard Mraz, Remy Giftopoulos, Sean Monahan, Brett Gustavsen, Taylor Fielding, Daniel Walsh, Ladislav Zikmund, Connor Brown, Dante Salituro, Andrew Abou-Assaly

Defence – Jake Cardwell, Michal Cajkovsky, Cody Ceci, Sean Callaghan, Ryan Shipley, Mike Vlajkov, Nevin Guy, Matthieu Desautels, Taylor Davis, Jonathan Duchesne

Goalie - Michael Nishi, Keegan Wilson, Jacob Blair

The 67's take part in several team-bonding activities and practices this week before their back-to-back games against Gatineau.

From Behind the Lens:
  • I attended two and a half scrimmages and tried to get pictures of the new guys at camp. They can be found here.  My apologies to players that I didn't get.  It's hard to get a shot of the jersey number after getting a shot of the player all while keeping an eye the play to avoid getting hit by something or somebody (lesson learned the hard way).  
  • Had a chance to chat with Jake Cardwell on his reflections from his rookie camp in Sudbury.  He was an unsigned third-round pick and recalls being really nervous.   He was sitting with John McFarland, the first overall pick, who was also nervous and John said "Let's just show them what we've got.".  Jake was signed on the second day of camp.  Now he starts his OA season with the 67's and is looking forward to more great hockey.  It's great to have him back.
  • A break between 5 scrimmages in 2 1/2 days to bond makes sense.  Gives the kids a chance to rest up a bit and get over some of the Team Black vs Team While intensity.  The rookies took runs at vets to showcase themselves; the vets took runs at rookies to put them in their place.  Now it's time for the survivors to form the team that will start the season. 

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