It’s probably safe to say that the Winnipeg Jets 2011 training camp has been the most well-attended NHL camp of all-time. The air of excitement is palpable, as waves of fans that descended upon the MTS Iceplex beginning at 7:30 am for an event which didn’t begin until 9. And while Jets fans have eaten up every opportunity to see the Prodigal team in action, the reality is that an early training camp environment – which primarily features varieties of skate-pass-(and)shoot drills – is not only a dull affair, but provides limited opportunities to evaluate a players. A few players are notable in certain areas through particularly good or bad play, but 80% go relatively unnoticed. That said, here at the players that did stick out on day 1 of training camp: Continue reading
Player: Bryan Little
Size: 5’10, 185
DOB: November 12, 1987
Draft: 1st round, 12th overall (2006)
At 5’10, 185, Winnipeg Jets centre Bryan Little is small by NHL standards – but that’s about all he lacks. He has very good speed and acceleration, and a strong lower body to help him fight through checks. He’ll never dominate in the corner or along the boards, but he plays with more grit than most skilled players of his size. He’s a very well-rounded offensive player, with excellent stickhandling ability, and a great shot. He’s primarily a goal scorer, as his preference is to shoot the puck, but he’s equally good at setting up teammates. He definitely has the talent to be a first liner, but like most developing players, he’ll need linemates with equal or greater talent to help him maximize his potential.
Whereas most players of his age and ilk don’t concentrate as hard on the defensive side of the game, Little is the full package. Last year he was second among forwards in ice-time, playing significant minutes in all situations, including the penalty kill. He also took almost twice as many faceoffs (1331) last year as the next-most used centre, winning 46.3%, which is not a bad percentage considering he spent most of the two previous years as a winger. Being relied on so much at such a young age says a lot about Little’s maturity and dedication to the game. Continue reading