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Players arrive for WJHC development camp

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TSN.ca Staff
8/2/2011 9:38:27 PM
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Forty-seven of the country's top young players arrived in Edmonton on Tuesday for the start of development camp in preparation for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship.

The camp officially begins on Wednesday and Edmonton and Fort McMurray, AB and runs through Sunday. You can catch full coverage all week long on SportsCentre, That's Hockey and on TSN.ca. 

This year's camp comes seven months after Team Canada suffered a heartbreaking collapse at the hands of Team Russia in the 2011 gold medal game. And for the seven returning players at camp, the sting of that defeat still remains.

"I try not to think about it to be honest," said Portland Winterhawks' centre Ryan Johansen. "If I look back on it the one thing I can say is it was a great learning experience - it's something I'll definitely remember for the rest of my life."

The camp, however, is a chance to move on.

"It was something hard to overcome," said Moose Jaw Warriors' left-winger Quinton Howden. "But this is a new beginning, so jump on the train and get things going again."

The other returnees joining Johansen and Howden at camp are goaltender Mark Visentin, defenceman Erik Gudbranson and forwards Brett Connolly, Sean Couturier, and Jaden Schwartz.

The full development camp roster consists of four goaltenders, 17 defencemen and 26 forwards. Twenty of the players - including Edmonton Oilers prospect, and first overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, were taken in the NHL Entry Draft in June. Twenty-three players were 2010 draft picks, with Everett Silvertips blueliner Ryan Murray as the lone player eligible for next year's draft.

The Summer Development Camp is the first step in identifying players for Canada's National Junior Team for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins on Boxing Day in Calgary and Edmonton.

Many of the players at camp including Nugent-Hopkins, who was cut from the 2011 team, may not be available for Team Canada come tournament time though.

"My goal is to make the Oilers," said Nugent-Hopkins. "But if I do get the chance to play for Team Canada it's going to be incredible."

Johansen, who would likely project as Team Canada's number one centre, could also be unavailable as he could stick with the Columbus Blue Jackets while Gudbranson could be playing for the Florida Panthers.

The uncertainty is just another part of the process for picking a team said head coach Don Hay.

"The NHL is obviously taking younger players with the salary cap situation some teams are under," said Hay. "It's going to be hard to tell until once the season starts."

With the players at camp, the 2010 team looks to be a little bit smaller but potentially more skilled than last year. It will also be a younger team as many of the 18-year-olds will be given a legitimate chance to crack the squad.

There are no cuts to be made at this camp but there will be four months from now, Hockey Canada's brass - led by head scout Kevin Prendergast - will monitor the players and other potential candidates before inviting a group of players to the final selection camp in December.

From that selection camp, 22 players will be named to the final roster just prior to the tournament.

The players, born in 1992 or 1993, were selected by Prendergast, in consultation with Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey operations and national teams, Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada's senior director of hockey operations and national teams, Scott Salmond, head coach Hay and assistant coaches George Burnett and Ryan Huska.

 

Mark Visentin (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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