EAST LANSING - A trio of current Spartans had the opportunity to intensify their summer training programs by taking part in NHL development camps in recent weeks. Sophomore defenseman Mitch Eliot attended the Detroit Red Wings' camp, while classmate Taro Hirose went to the Toronto Maple Leafs' camp. Junior defenseman Zach Osburn took part in the Nashville Predators' camp.
Mitch Eliot | Detroit Red Wings
Eliot's experience with the Red Wings took him to Traverse City, the annual home of the organization's fall training camp. With nearly all of Detroit's drafted prospects in attendance at the development camp, Eliot appreciated the opportunity to test his skills against future NHLers.
"That was cool, especially to see where you matched up," Eliot said. "You just go out there and compete and have fun."
However, some of the most important lessons of the camp came off the ice.
"I'd say one of the biggest takeaways was how much I learned what it takes when you're off the ice to be a pro," Eliot said. "It comes down to what you do away from the ice, and how much and how well you take care of yourself plays a big role."
Eliot will continue his prep for the season ahead by skating more each week, combined with an off-ice conditioning program.
"Leading up to the camp, I had been skating two to three times per week and really felt comfortable with my conditioning," Eliot said. "We did a conditioning test on the last day that was similar to what we do at Michigan State and I felt good."
Eliot will split time between his hometown of Grosse Pointe and East Lansing over the next few weeks before moving back to campus fulltime in August.
"I'm looking forward to being back in East Lansing and hanging out with the freshmen and getting to know the new coaching staff better as well," Eliot said.
Zach Osburn | Nashville Predators
Osburn got his first taste of an NHL development camp with the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators. The camp included the standard on-ice skill sessions and off-ice training, but the most memorable part of Osburn's time in Nashville was spent away from any rink or gym.
"We had a community day at the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and it was great," Osburn said. "We met a lot of kids, played games, took photos and also did a televised radio show within the hospital, so the kids that weren't able to leave their rooms could still see and interact with us."
The impact of spending the few hours at the hospital left a lasting mark on Osburn.
"It's something I'll never forget because it caught me off guard a little," Osburn said. "I didn't know what type of community service we'd be doing, but it was really something special. It made me think just how much it means to kids and what a difference anyone can make. I'll never forget one of the kids I met that was wearing all Predators gear and had an amazing attitude."
As for the hockey portion of the camp, Osburn said he was able to gain a lot from paying attention to the small details.
"Learning more about off-ice recovery, and then some details I can use on the ice, especially timing, was great," Osburn said. "You have to pay attention to detail and if you don't, you won't be noticed."
Taro Hirose | Toronto Maple Leafs
It was also a new experience for Hirose, who found out he'd be receiving an invite to the Maple Leafs' development camp during the middle of last season.
Toronto's camp included a total of 57 players with the players split into two groups - those that are draft picks of the club and those that are free agents, like Hirose.
"It has been very cool," Hirose said. "The camp setup is different than most others, but we have good competition against each other. There are other college players here, too, so it has been good to meet them. Obviously, playing against some of the organization's top guys has been good, too."
The five-day camp offered a host of experiences Hirose will bring back to East Lansing, starting before he even steps on the ice.
"You feel an attention to detail around the dressing room, the trainers and equipment guys are on you about always having your stall neat and tidy," Hirose said. "On the ice, the way coaches teach, they give you little things that you don't even think about that will help you in your game."
-- Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 12, 2017