On the speed of the scrimmages:
“It’s faster. It’s definitely faster. You’ve got to be thinking three seconds ahead. You’ve got to be able to get pucks on stick battles, you’ve got to be strong on your skates, you’ve got to be winning draws. Winning draws are very important for me right now because they get puck possession. It’s quicker, but it’s something that I’m starting to get a grasp of, which is good. I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the puck, more and more each day. Even the first day, it just took me a couple of shifts to get going, so it was good.”
He laughed when it was mentioned to him that he scored on his first shift.
“The puck seemed to find me. A little puck luck never hurt anyone.”
On playing with Gaborik and Frolov, and the possibility that he could actually wind up there:
“It’s something that you’ve just got to control what you can control. I’ve said that probably 100 times. I keep saying it, but it’s something I try to do each day—come to the rink, don’t really worry about it, just play your game. Playing with those two is just unbelievable. It’s quite a game when you’re playing with two guys like that. You just try to do what you can do to hold your end and make sure you can compete with those guys. I just try to find them and get the puck to them because they’ll do the rest.”
On whether there’s an intimidation playing with players like that.
“Yeah, initially. Probably like a couple of minutes like, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool’—something that not many people get a chance to do, but then it set in and it says, ‘OK, now I’ve really got to turn up my game. Playing with high level players, your game always gets tweaked a little bit. So it was something that, at first was, ‘This is cool; this is something special’ and then it’s like ‘Alright, now I’ve really got to get to the grind.’
“It was fun. I had a blast with those two guys. For some reason … I don’t know how chemistry works. You step on the ice and just seem to find guys, and for us three, we just clicked. I don’t know if it was first-day, first-scrimmage, everyone’s excited to play, or chemistry, or what. But I’m excited.
“I don’t really know how to explain chemistry. If you can find it, it’s something special. … Plus I didn’t take chemistry in school.”
Marian Gaborik on Stepan:
“It was pretty good. I didn’t really know him. Was he in camp last year? (no). So, he’s got pretty good skill, good skater, playmaker. So I think he’s going to see some exhibition games for sure, so we’ll see. It’s still early but he looked very good.
“Some of the guys, first camp, you’re scared to do things. But he wasn’t. He tried to make plays, he was good defensively, he scored a goal. He made some nice plays, which is good. He’s not scared to play, and that’s very good.”
Alex Frolov had a hat trick that first day with Gaborik and Stepan, so Gaborik was asked, kiddingly, if he’s going to be an assist guy this year.
“We’ll see,” he smiled. “I like to score goals, too.”
“He’s good. He’s strong. In the corners he’s strong, and he can finish as well. So I’m sure we’re going to play some exhibition games together and hopefully, who knows who’s going to be at center? We’ll see what happens.”
Here’s Tortorella on Stepan, courtesy of Andrew Gross blog:
“He’s played in some pretty high-intensity tournaments along the way, the World Championships and college. I think most of our kids, including him, have handled themselves well coming into a big camp. He equipped himself very well. Little Kennedy has done some good things in the middle of the ice. I’m just happy that guys are competing and we’re able to see some of the young kids step up here. I think our kids have played very well as we’ve gone through the early part of camp.”
On Stepan playing with Gaborik and Frolov:
“Once we got our numbers, I put some teams together. No question in our mind we want to look at Stepan in a lot of different situations. We want to evaluate how he handles things and see where he is as we go through camp because we’re going to have make a decision on that position with him. So we want to look at him a lot of different situations as far as the big club is concerned.”