COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As several prospects arrived at Nationwide Arena to make the trip to the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., a few familiar faces were spotted in Columbus.
After completing Blue Jackets development camp the week of July 9-12, one of those returnees was Kerby Rychel. He was drafted 19th overall at the 2013 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets and was all smiles as he stepped on the ice for his first practice back at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.
"It's great to be back," Rychel told BlueJackets.com. "It's a good reminder that this is the ultimate goal and that this is where I want to be."
Rychel and the other prospects will have the chance to let their play make a case for an invitation to Blue Jackets training camp. The NHL Prospects Tournament begins today with on-ice practices and will feature games played against other NHL teams' prospects, including the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, throughout the week.
After working hard all summer, Rychel knows he is prepared to contribute on offense this week as much as possible.
"All summer I’ve been working really hard on my skating, my skill and my physicality," said Rychel. "It’s my job now, and something I really had to work on."
Though he wore a practice Blue Jackets jersey for the first time at development camp, Rychel is most excited to represent the team that drafted him this summer for the first time.
"I’m excited to wear a Columbus Blue Jackets uniform for the first time. It’s going to be a pretty cool experience and it's going to be a really competitive tournament so it should be fun."