Beginning this Saturday, Sept. 8, a total of 28 Colorado Avalanche prospects will converge upon the South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo., for the organization’s four-day rookie camp.
The goal of the camp is to allow Colorado’s hockey staff to evaluate the young players while also giving them valuable on-ice sessions with the coaching staff.
“I think it’s a tremendously exciting time to see the prospects and what the future holds,” said Avalanche Director of Player Development Craig Billington. “This camp gives a snapshot of the next wave of young players who will come along to help the Avalanche.”
This year’s rookie camp will have a “home-grown” flavor to it, as 15 of the 28 players scheduled to be in attendance were drafted by the Avs. Included in that group are Colorado’s 2006 1st round pick Chris Stewart (18th overall) and 2007 draftees Trevor Cann (2nd round, 49th overall) and T.J. Galiardi (2nd round, 55th overall).
“This organization believes that the way to have success is through the draft. We look at free agents periodically, but the foundation of your franchise needs to be through the draft.” said Billington. “Certainly the emphasis on drafting and developing young talent has never been more important than it is now.”
For fans eager to get a view of the action, the Avalanche rookie camp is free and open to the public. Workouts are scheduled to take place in the morning from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and will feature plenty of young, talented players who have already made impacts on the Major Junior, NCAA, AHL and even NHL levels.
The list of accomplishments by those players is nearly endless, but fans making the trip to Centennial this weekend will bear witness to a bevy of talent, including:
-A pair of finalists for the 2007 Hobey Baker Memorial Award – which is awarded to college hockey’s top player – in T.J. Hensick and David Jones. Hensick led the nation in scoring with 69 points (23g/46a) in 41 games during his senior campaign at the University of Michigan. Jones, meanwhile, was a unanimous selection for Ivy League Player of the Year during his junior campaign at Dartmouth after tallying 44 points (18g/26a) in 33 appearances.
-Stewart, the Avalanche’s top overall pick in 2006, continued his stellar play last season with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. Serving as team captain, Stewart finished second on the squad in scoring with 82 points (36g/46a) in 61 games and was selected to the OHL All-Star Game.
- Kyle Cumiskey and Michael Wall, who both received a taste of NHL action during the 2006-07 season. Cumiskey appeared in nine games for the Avalanche a year ago and scored two points (1g/1a) following a Dec. 28 call-up. Wall played four games with Anaheim last season, posting a 2-2-0 record with a 2.97 goals-against average.
-Twelve players who spent time in the AHL last season, including Tyler Weiman, who backstopped Albany to its first playoff berth in seven years while posting a 27-22-3 record in 54 appearances.
-Codey Burki and Raymond Macias, both of whom were major factors on the Western Hockey League’s scoring charts in 2006-07. Burki finished fifth among WHL scorers with 85 points (36g/49a) in 70 games, while Macias led all league defenseman with 70 points (30g/40a) in 70 contests.
“I think it’s one of the stronger pools we’ve had in a while.” said Billington. “We’re seeing a lot of good, quality players with different characteristics and attributes that are quite positive. From an organizational standpoint we’re really excited to see our kids and work with them.”
Following the rookie camp, select players will join the Avalanche’s veterans at Colorado’s 2007 training camp. Those rookies chosen will join the veterans on the ice on Sept. 14.