It's about that time of the summer when national teams start to get their junior team camps going. For USA Hockey, they'll convene in Lake Placid in early August along with Team Sweden and Team Finland for a week of training and exhibition games.
Team USA, led by former NHL head coach and 2010 U.S. men's Olympic team coach Ron Wilson, takes the ice for its first evaluation camp practice on Saturday, Aug. 1 at Lake Placid Olympic Center's Herb Brooks Arena.
The American camp roster is comprised of 39 players (22 forwards, 13 defensemen and four goaltenders), and will be split into two groups for the first three days. Four of the players in camp are Blue Jackets draft picks: Sonny Milano, Ryan Collins, Zach Werenski and Paul Bittner -- the latter two joining the organization via the 2015 NHL Draft.
Werenski, the team's first round pick (No. 8 overall), had a standout freshman season at the University of Michigan in 2014-15 and said he plans on returning for a sophomore campaign. He made his World Junior Hockey Championship debut for Team USA in 2015.
Bittner, Columbus' first pick in the second round (No. 38 overall), is a power forward from the Portland Winterhawks and played on one of junior hockey's most dynamic lines last season alongside Oliver Bjorkstrand and Winnipeg Jets prospect Nic Petan.
Collins, a 6-foot-5 right handed shooting defenseman, is entering his sophomore season at the University of Minnesota and was part of Team USA's fifth-place entry at the 2015 World Junior tournament.
Milano is on the verge of starting his professional hockey career this fall and is considered in the mix to make the Blue Jackets out of training camp, but if that doesn't pan out, he will be a top-line player for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL). Milano was also part of last year's U.S. World Junior team, and like Collins, played on the Americans' gold-medal winning team at the 2014 U18 World Junior tournament.
Columbus native Jack Roslovic, a Miami University (Ohio) commitment and first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2015, has also been invited to this year's evaluation camp.
NOTES: Of the 40 players invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, 15 competed in the United States Hockey League during the 2014-15 season, including 11 from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program ... Fifteen players competed in the college hockey ranks last season ... Sixteen of the 39 players participated in last year's camp.