Just three days after opting to forego his college career at Northeastern University and sign with the Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw Spirit, defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak on Thursday was added to the Canadian National Junior Team summer development camp roster.
The camp, which now includes four goalies, 17 defensemen and 26 forwards, is scheduled for Aug. 3-7 in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alta., and will feature 47 of the top Canadian players born in 1992 and 1993. The camp will be used to help determine the 22-man roster that will participate in the 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.
Oleksiak, taken by the Dallas Stars with the 14th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, holds dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. He had been invited to attend USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp, which will be held Aug. 6-13 in Lake Placid, N.Y., but will attend the Hockey Canada camp instead.
Oleksiak had attended the USA Hockey's final junior evaluation camp last year, but as the second-youngest player invited for the team that went to the 2011 WJC, he didn't make the team.
While it was a disappointment, Oleksiak admitted it was a great learning experience.
"I wasn't expecting much and I think that came as a big surprise to me (to be invited)," Oleksiak told NHL.com in May. "I worked hard and think I earned a chance to take that spot. It was a great honor to be chosen and to possibly represent my country. They gave me an opportunity and I kind of did what I thought I had to do and tried my best. I didn't make the team, which was not what I wanted, but at the same time it was a huge learning experience and something I'll never forget.
"I appreciated the chance. You really come away with a sense of what you have to do to get to that level and how hard you have to work to be a successful player and move to the higher levels and be one of the better players in the game."
NHL Network analyst Craig Button feels Oleksiak (6-foot-7, 241 pounds) may be ahead of where Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was when he was drafted in 1996.
"I saw Chara play at that age and Oleksiak is way more developed and does possess better coordination than Chara had," Button told NHL.com. "A 6-foot-7 defenseman with the skill of Oleksiak doesn't come very often. There's a big development window in front of him. I could see, three or four years down the road, NHL teams that passed on him might be saying 'My god, we should have taken him.'"
As a freshman at Northeastern last season, Oleksiak finished with a team-best plus-13 rating, was the second-highest scoring defenseman with 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) and averaged 1.36 shots per game.
When Oleksiak arrives for the camp, he'll be competing for a spot on a Canada blue line that includes six players taken in the first round of the 2011 draft, plus three from the first round of the 2010 draft. One of those is Erik Gudbranson, the third pick of the 2010 draft as well as one of seven players from last year's silver medal winners. Also trying out for the team are Cody Ceci of the OHL's Ottawa 67s and Ryan Murray of the WHL's Everett Silvertips, two of the top players available for the 2012 Entry Draft.
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