Avalanche prospect Kevin Shattenkirk recently finished competing at the 2008 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, where 53 of the top young hockey players in America fought tooth-and-nail to impress USA Hockey’s staff.
The camp, held each year in Lake Placid, N.Y., (the site of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice”) ran from August 1-9 and is a measuring stick of sorts for selecting the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team. Players evaluated at the camp are candidates to skate with Team USA at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, held Dec. 26, 2008 - Jan. 5, 2009 in Ottawa, Ontario.
As is the norm, the U.S. camp featured practices and eight international games with a split squad of the best American players under the age of 20 facing off against teams from Sweden and Finland.
Shattenkirk, who was one of 18 defensemen to take part in the event, registered three assists in four contests against international competition. The Greenwich, Conn., native’s best performance came Saturday during the camp’s finale, as he posted a pair of helpers in Team White’s 5-2 win over Finland.
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Kevin Shattenkirk was one of 53 players looking to make an impression on USA Hockey's staff last week in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“Shatty was pretty good at the camp overall,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. “Obviously he has good experience with that age group. We have a really deep defensive corps with a lot of options to choose from, which will ultimately help our team.”
The experience of which Johannson spoke came from Shattenkirk playing two seasons in Ann Arbor, Mich., with the U.S. National Team Development Program. There, he served as captain of the U.S. National Under-18 Team during the 2006-07 campaign and helped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2007 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, where he was named the tournament’s “Best Defenseman”.
When asked about the talent level of this year’s crop of American players as a whole, Johannson stated that he was impressed with what he saw in Lake Placid. The U.S. teams finished the camp with a 4-1-2-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) overall record, having only posted one regulation loss in the eight international games.
“I thought the games themselves were some of the better we’ve had in a few years in Lake Placid,” said Johannson, a two-time U.S. Olympian (1988, 1992) during his playing days. “The camp reaffirmed that the depth of our player pool is strong, so it’s going to be hard to separate out a lot of guys. It’s good news for us, but we’re going to need some of those players to separate themselves over the course of the fall to clarify our roster.”
One aspect that Johannson stresses will be crucial when selecting the roster is the versatility of the players – something that could bode well for Shattenkirk. As a defenseman who can serve as a member of a shutdown unit and also quarterback a power play, Shattenkirk seemingly has the required flexibility in his game.
That being said, the recently concluded camp is only the first step toward securing a roster spot at the World Juniors for Shattenkirk and the other attendees at the annual evaluation camp.
“We saw certain players solidify what we felt they would bring to the team, but there’s still those lingering questions on how we can plug them into our lineup in December,” said Johannson. “We look at both how our guys play during the season and also factor in their performance at the camp. Some of those guys can confirm how they played at the camp with their season.”
The members of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team are expected to be unveiled in early December.