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NHL.com: USA Hockey to take look at potential WJC players

Friday, 08.1.2008 / 3:32 PM CT / Features
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NHL.com: USA Hockey to take look at potential WJC players

Goalie Jeremy Smith is a returning veteran and favorite to make this year's WJC team, which will be named in December by Ron Rolston.
Canada just finished its evaluation of potential national team players for this winter's World Junior Championship. Now, it is the United States' turn.

Fifty-three American hopefuls will convene Friday at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the beginning of a nine-day camp that will go a long way in determining who will represent the United States at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009, in Ottawa.

Eight players return from the last year's team that finished fourth at the 2008 World Junior Championship return for this year's camp. 

Goalie Jeremy Smith, defensemen Jon Blum, Ian Cole and Cade Fairchild and forwards Matt Rust, James van Riemsdyk, Colin Wilson, and Jordan Schroeder are the returning veterans and are favorites to make this year's team, which will be named in December by coach Ron Rolston.

"It's a good group of veterans that are back for camp and we are looking to those players in Lake Placid to push the pace, lead and be at the front of things in terms of what we want in pace and tempo," said Rolston, the coach of the U-18 component of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program.

Rolston expects that veteran core to come into camp and set an early tone for what he hopes will be a high-tempo, high-energy camp. van Riemsdyk, selected No. 2 by Philadelphia in the 2007 Entry Draft, is attending his third evaluation camp. The other returnees are at their second Lake Placid summer camp.

"I think all of those players were on last year's team for a reason," says Rolston. "They have a lot of character, work hard and (have) persistence in terms of the challenges we are going to have at camp. I'm sure they will have that mindset that they want to have a great team, so I'm sure they will be pushing the pace."

The Americans will hit the ice running, so to speak. The 53 players, a much higher number than in past camps, arrive throughout the day Friday and will split into two groups for quick practices that night.

"We have a slightly different format this year where we are going to bring three American teams up to Lake Placid and have some kind of intra-squad stuff going on earlier than we normally have in the past," Rolston said. "We'll get to games right away and get to evaluating the kids."

The Americans begin three days of intra-squad scrimmages Saturday as the group is broken up into three teams. Each team will feature 10 forwards and six defensemen. The five goalies in camp will rotate through the teams.

The Americans will send some players home Tuesday, reform into two teams and take on strong U-20 select teams from Sweden and Finland in a round-robin tournament that will run through Saturday's closing day of camp.

Rolston says the format of the camp was changed to allow more players to be evaluated and also to allow some younger players to get a chance to have the Lake Placid experience at an earlier age so they will be less intimidated when they hopefully return to this camp the following summer.

Goalies Mike Lee and Brandon Maxwell and forwards Ryan Bourque and Schroeder are eligible for this June's Entry Draft in Montreal. Defenseman Cam Fowler, a late-birthday '91, isn't eligible to be drafted until 2010.

"I think we're getting more players involved in the camp and getting more guys experience," Rolston said. "This year we're bringing in some younger players into the camp. We have some '91s attending -- five of them -- some younger kids we think are going to be future players for us, and we want to get them involved and see how they do in the camp.

"It allows more players to have the experience and really gives us the opportunity to look at a wider variety of players. There's a lot of players that we may not have a lot of information on that we would like to see at that level."

And it will be a high level at this camp for sure. Forty-one of the 53 invitees have been selected by NHL teams in the past two years. There will be 12 first-round picks on hand and 11 second-round picks.

Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor





1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70


F. Forsberg 82 33 31 1 64
R. Josi 81 14 47 -3 61
J. Neal 82 31 27 27 58
S. Weber 78 20 31 -7 51
M. Ribeiro 81 7 43 11 50
C. Smith 82 21 16 4 37
M. Ekholm 82 8 27 14 35
R. Johansen 42 8 26 10 34
R. Ellis 79 10 22 13 32
C. Jarnkrok 81 16 14 1 30
P. Rinne 34 21 10 .908 2.48
C. Hutton 7 5 4 .918 2.33