No major developments emerged from today’s training camp session. J.D. Watt took part in his first practice with the team, but center Francois Brisebois and defensemen Travis Gawryletz (both awaiting physicals) did not.
The forward trios are actually skating consistently as trios now that Jason Christie is running lots of system-oriented drills. The line of Kyle Kraemer at left wing, Jordan Morrison at center and Derek Couture at right wing has had a few days of practice to get acclimated. Given their shared inclination for scoring, we’ll tab this group as the early frontrunner for a No. 1 line in Saturday’s preseason opener.
Geoff Irwin (LW), C.J. Stretch (center) and Brady Calla (RW) have stayed together for a couple days now, too. That group could be another potential keeper.
Wednesday’s other lines:
Chris Cloud-August Aiken-J.D. Watt
Shayne Neigum-Bill Bagron-Dean Yakura/Kyle Reed.
Some more notes:
• Christie expects to make another round of cuts tomorrow morning. There will be two fewer spots once Gawryletz and Brisebois — both of whom signed standard ECHL contracts — are added to the roster, and the coach is still on the prowl for AHL camp castoffs. Anyone here on a tryout contract is going to be on the bubble, and only Reed, Yakura, Aiken and goalie Dustin Carlson are left among that group.
• Christie on Aiken, who’s lasted longer than any of the open-tryout invitees: “He’s been doing good. Is he ready right now? We’ll see. He’s come in and worked tremendously hard. We could be getting a couple more guys. He’s given us everything he’s got and it doesn’t go without notice.”
• Reed has a unique local connection. His mother is from Calgary, which is where he grew up and learned to play hockey, but his father’s family — three brothers and four sisters — are from Southern California. “I’ve been to Ontario Mills a few times in the past,” he said. “Since I’ve been here, it’s really expanded. A lot of renovation has happened since the last time I was here seven years ago.” How many family members might turn out if he’s in the lineup Saturday? “I’m not sure about that yet,” Reed said. “Go day by day. One step at a time.”
• Look for a story in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin about Brisebois and his well-honed post-hockey plans.