The Capitals added something new to their rookie camp this year, according to Capitals’ strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish when he spoke to OFB Sunday: on-ice testing the first day of camp.
Nemish said the change was about starting off on the right foot and serving notice that everyone means business.
“We expect them to come in great shape, and, this year, there’s a element of, ‘We’re going to come in the best shape possible, and we’re going to work hard, we’re going to evaluate you right away,’ and it just sort of served notice to everybody that this is going to be our best year ever, and we’re going to start off on the right foot,” Nemish said.
And, while the rookies may not be as strong or as developed as the NHL players they hope to compete against, Nemish wants them as prepared conditioning-wise as an NHL player.
“I’m not expecting anything less out of a young player’s fitness level as opposed to an NHL player’s fitness level,” Nemish said. “Will it be a bit of an eye-opener for those that have never been to an NHL camp? Probably. … In terms of their fitness level, we expect the same out of them.”
Nemish says the team will crunch all the numbers from the on and off ice testing and put together a player profile. If they have numbers on a player from a previous camp [like development camp in July], they’ll do a comparison of the two files to see if a player has progressed or taken a step back.
“A player like Cody Eakin, I’ve got probably now six sets of numbers on him,” Nemish said. “So we can look and go right across the board and see what sort of development he’s had over those six testing periods.”
The on-ice tests the rookies went through Sunday were measuring the players’ overall anaerobic conditioning shape. Each rep was set for about 35 to 40 seconds–an all-out shift–with 2 minutes of recovery in between.
“So when you’re doing five of those, you’re seeing how well they recover between each one – what’s their best time, what’s their drop-off, what’s their fatigue, so then we can make a determination and see how well they’re in shape,” Nemish said.
Nemish said since this is the first rookie camp where they’re doing the on-ice tests, he’s not really able to compare where the current participants are with how players already on the Caps’ roster performed at that point in their development.