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New Prospects Excited For Avs Development Camp

Six of Colorado's eight 2018 draft picks are in attendance

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--After a full day of fitness testing, the Colorado Avalanche's new prospects are ready to trade their tennis shoes for ice skates.

The first on-ice session began on Friday at Family Sports Center, and several of the team's new players were excited to get going after being chosen at last weekend's NHL draft in Dallas.

"It's been amazing. [Thursday] was the first day, so we had testing and all of that, so it was fun," said Sampo Ranta, the 78th overall selection by Colorado, at Thursday's draft class introduction. "We're going to hit the ice [Friday], so it's going to be fun too."

There are 29 Avalanche prospects and invitees at the five-day development camp, which includes three days of skating before wrapping up with off-ice team activities in Northern Colorado on Monday.

The summer camp isn't designed to be too much of a competition between players for roster spots. It isn't going to determine if a player skates for the Avalanche or the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles next season.

The goal is for the prospects to learn the ins and outs of the organization and be given the tools to be successful in September for training camp.

"It's going to be a learning experience, and that's what I'm here to do," said the Avs' 2018 fourth-round pick, Tyler Weiss. "They drafted me because they obviously like me. That is what I'm going to take out of this experience. I'm not going to worry about anything, just go with the flow and learn."

Video: Colorado introduces its newest prospects

However, that doesn't mean the players are just in Colorado for vacation and a fun week. They are still expected to show effort when they are on the ice, workout in the gym and are in a classroom setting.

"Just try and make a good impression here," said Brandon Saigeon, the 140th overall pick. "They said don't stress too much about development camp. Just go about your day, go about your business, try and meet some people and whatnot."

Saigeon, 20, was selected in his third draft that he was eligible for and could play for the Eagles next season or with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League in his overage year.

Video: Saigeon on being drafted by the Avalanche

He told that his goal is to be playing with the Eagles and is aiming to take what he learns in his time in Denver to accomplish that.

"When I go back and get in the gym and work on my game, definitely have this in mind," Saigeon said. "It will definitely be a good benchmark for me on where I need to improve to get to that point."

Colorado has six of its eight 2018 draft picks at development camp, with only Danila Zhuravlyov and Shamil Shmakov unable to attend.

For the Avs' newest members, it has been a whirlwind week since being picked by the team.

"It's a dream," Weiss said. "I've thought of this day since I was a little kid, and I can't believe it is already here."

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