Every kid who's drafted has it written in his scouting profile that he needs to get bigger and stronger, every kid this side of Connor Crisp and Eric Lindros maybe. They all know it, and recite it rotely in their interviews, how they'll work out hard all summer long to get ready for camp, to become a pro.
And fans obsess about their players' size. Certainly the Canadiens and the Canucks fans do, PTSD'ing over run-ins with Boston Cavepersons, they want their recruits, to be trite, MOAR bigger.
And we get satisfaction, mostly, outside of a Louis Leblanc or Brady Vail, the kids hit the gym hard and the results show from one summer to the next. It's visible when they get interviewed, there's more trapezius there, the shoulders are more rounded, the neck flares out. We hug ourselves in self-congratulation at the sight of it.
For example, Charles Hudon was a bit of a concern when he was drafted, being very slight, and eventually developing a wonky back, it didn't look good. Not catastrophic, we only spent a fifth-round pick on him, but still, odds seemed remote that he might ever make the NHL at one point.
But the back healed, with diligent rehab and physio and exercise, and the kid had a super rookie season in the AHL, finishing second in rookie scoring. His future looks brighter, suddenly.
And, he stated in an interview that he weighed in at 191 lbs at the physical testing portion of the development camp, so he’s addressing this area, he’s progressing. If he settles in at 5'11" and just under 195, that might be ideal hockey weight, strong enough to withstand the rigors of an NHL season.
Prospect defenceman Mac Bennet while interviewed sang a slightly different tune.
He says that he worked hard to show up at his first pro camp at 200 lbs., but that he won’t try that again this fall. He’ll try to weigh in at a shade under 195, he says that will suit his game better, he’ll be able to skate better, with more stamina. In previous development camps, he talked about how former Player Development Coach Patrice Brisebois encouraged him to work hard at getting bigger and stronger.
I’m sure the base he built up won’t hurt him, that all that extra work he put in will serve him in terms of strength, and in having developed his connective tissue, it may prevent injuries in the future.
And we’re seeing how the League is slowly changing course, despite the Bruins, how skating and skill are starting to take over from size and outright intimidation. If a prospect AHL’er can make a decision to play five pounds lighter, that this will be an advantage for him and his future career, then maybe the tide is shifting.
For realz this time.