OTTAWA – While scanning the rosters for each team here at Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Development Camp, Josh Bailey noticed a glaring omission from Team Red's side of the sheet of paper.
There were four New York Islanders draft picks dotting Team Red's roster, but for some reason Bailey wasn't one of them.
"I ran my finger down the list and I saw all four of them and my name wasn't on the team," Bailey told NHL.com. "I was like, 'Oh, OK, I guess I'm playing against them.’”
At least for this week he is, but the four vs. one battle is welcomed by all five Islander prospects taking part in this camp.
The Islander Five represent the youth movement the team is undertaking, and having five draft picks in this exclusive camp proves that GM Garth Snow and his staff have already made great strides in their rebuilding project.
No other NHL team has more than three prospects at this camp.
"It is great to see our draft picks be represented at the Team Canada World Junior Evaluation Camp," Islanders Assistant General Manager and Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski said. "It goes to show that they are all elite-level players and deserve to be able to prove themselves in what historically is a very competitive camp. I am looking forward to seeing them participate in Ottawa."
Bailey, who was selected ninth by the Islanders at this year's draft, is their lone first-round pick here. He's joined by 2008 second-round picks Corey Trivino and Travis Hamonic as well as 2007 third-rounder Mark Katic and 2008 sixth-rounder Jared Spurgeon.
Bailey, who plays for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, and the Boston University-bound Trivino are forwards.
Trivino is the only player in camp who didn't play in the CHL or NCAA last season. He instead played Junior 'A' hockey for the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, but that won't have any bearing on his status here.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
2007-08 SEASON STATS
(13th east/26th NHL)
|Change from 2006-07
(15th east/28th NHL)
(13th east/25th NHL)
"Corey will have the chance to prove himself like anybody even though he didn't play major junior or NCAA," Canada coach Benoit Groulx said. "We'll see down the road what we think about him."
Katic (Sarnia Sting), Hamonic (Moose Jaw Warriors) and Spurgeon (Spokane Chiefs) are defensemen. Hamonic is a shutdown blue-liner while Katic and Spurgeon, who is only 5-foot-8 and 167 pounds, like to join the rush.
Spurgeon is one of only four players here (joining Paul Byron, Jamie Benn and Chris DiDomenico) that has no prior experience in Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence.
"I would have had a lot pride no matter how many guys were here, but having five guys here, the most in the League, now that is pretty cool," Bailey said. "(The Islanders) are really trying to start fresh, build young, and being a young guy it's always exciting to be a part of something like that."
The Islander Five can't get enough of each other this month.
Just last week they were together on Long Island for the team's prospect development camp, where most of them met each other for the first time and planted seeds for friendships that are now blooming in Ottawa.
They believe the new friendships help them become better teammates down the road.
"It definitely was kind of cool seeing them at the airport the other day," Bailey said. "We had some stories to swap and laugh about from camp."
Prior to last week's camp, most of them didn't know each other.
"I just met Spurgeon there last week, and we have been getting a long really well," Katic told NHL.com. "He was roommates with one of my buddies from Sarnia that got drafted there, too. Definitely, you start building some friendships at these camps and it's been great to have those guys around."
Similarly, Trivino said he only knew Hamonic because they were teammates for Canada's gold-medal winning entry in the IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship in Kazan, Russia in April.
"At the NHL camp the first couple of days we were like, 'Who is this guy, and who is that guy?’” Trivino told NHL.com. "By the end we were pretty good friends and now we're here together. Hopefully that friendship will carry on and when we do hopefully develop and play together in the National Hockey League we'll have that special connection already."
Bailey is considered the only prospect even close to being NHL ready. He said he's been told he has a shot to make the team out of training camp, but if he doesn't he'll return to Windsor, where he piled up 96 points in 67 games last season.
"I'm on the board and it's up to me," Bailey said of what the Islanders’ brass has already told him. "It's not up to them to pick me. It's up to me to go perform. If I do that I have a chance."
Trivino, Katic, Hamonic and Spurgeon are at least a year or two away at the very least, but this camp will also give the Islander Five another chance to impress Jankowski, who is expected to be in attendance.
"I just got back from New York last week and that was the main time I was trying to impress him," Katic said. "Here at the Junior Team Camp I want to make an impression on Groulx and the coaching staff first, but definitely with Jankowski being here I want to impress him, too. I really just want to impress everybody."
Added Bailey: "Every time you hit the ice you are trying to show them why they picked you. You are trying to prove them right for picking you."
If an invitation from Hockey Canada is any indication, the Islanders are so far looking pretty good for picking all five.
"I think it's a good indicator for the organization," Trivino said. "It shows that they are starting a new leaf with good young players coming up. Hopefully we develop well and we'll all be in Islanders jerseys one day."
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