ST. LOUIS, MO Carter Camper made it through his first NHL practice at the Scottrade Center on Tuesday afternoon a lengthy 70 plus minute affair and it was tough to tell if it ever actually sank in for the rookie.
The 23-year-old Camper was called up on Monday and skated with Jordan Caron, Josh Hennessy and Benoit Pouliot at practice, and could get pulled right into the lineup following a hat trick Sunday for the Providence Bruins. Camper was leading the P-Bruins in points and assists at the time of his recall, and was on Cloud Nine for the duration of the practice session.
"It was awesome," said Camper following the practice. "I felt good out there. To be out there was a bit of a whirlwind, but just seeing some of these guys out there on the same line is humbling.
"I played with Caron for a little bit down in Providence and Hennessy has been a great guy for me to look up to as well. So theres a little bit of familiarity. Its a little easier coming up here and seeing guys youve been rolling with for the better part of the year. Down in Providence, Coach Cassidy tries to have the same game plan as they do up here so theyre grooming players for the big time.
The scouting report on Camper: good offensive instincts and strong with the puck on his stick in high traffic area, but hes not the fastest skater or a player that will blow the casual observer away with his skills. But hes produced at every level hes reached, and now gets a chance to do that at the NHL level with the Bs in need of some energetic playmaking.
Its not exactly easing into the NHL action when Camper is dropped into a situation where the Bruins are riding a two-game losing streak smack dab in the middle of a February malaise. But thats the situation Camper, Hennessy, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Jordan Caron find themselves in with the Bruins needing some kind of spark until they get some healthytraded bodies to lend a hand.
"The four guys that are coming up are coming into a team right now that is struggling a bit and is frustrated, and certainly not the best situation," said Claude Julien. "Its always easier to come in when a team is rolling and going well and you just kind of slide in there.
"But when youre not, you kind of expect a little bit more out of those guys. Those guys want to do a little bit more so its not always easy."
Theres also the chance Camper is being mentioned in trade talks with other NHL teams as one of the few assets at the AHL level that other GMs might just be interested in, so perhaps a few games before the deadline will serve as an audition of sorts for the former Hobey Baker Finalist.
Beyond all the back-stories and trade hysteria entering the final week before the deadline, it will be about the team getting the win Wednesday against the Blues and a rookie potentially getting his first taste of the Show".