The first step in picking the teams for the 2014 World Junior Championship starts this weekend, when the United States, Finland and Sweden arrive in Lake Placid, N.Y., to take part in the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.
The teams will practice and play exhibition games from Aug. 3-10 on the Herb Brooks 1980 Arena ice at the Olympic Training Center.
Canada will join them in Lake Placid after a two-day camp Aug. 4-5 in Brossard, Quebec, at the Montreal Canadiens' training site.
It's the first time Canada will take part in the Lake Placid camp, but according to Canada coach Brent Sutter, change is a good thing for a national junior program that hasn't won a gold medal since 2009, and finished off the medal stand at the 2013 WJC, the first time that's happened since 1998.
"This concept is totally different than what was accustomed to," Sutter told NHL.com. "Instead of doing an evaluation camp of 44 or whatever players they've done in the past and playing against each other, now you take your  guys and you go in there and you go in as one team. You have an opportunity to evaluate everyone within a team concept, where everyone is together, everyone is a group. You go in there, represent your country. It's summer exhibition games, but very meaningful games as far as players showcasing themselves and seeing where you're at and what you have."
The group Canada brings to Lake Placid will have one player from the team that finished fourth: Jake Paterson, who was the third goalie last year.
The U.S. group in Lake Placid will have two players from the team that won the gold medal at the 2013 WJC in Sochi, Russia: forward Riley Barber and defenseman Patrick Sieloff.
That team won with an up-tempo attack, and coach Don Lucia said he plans on playing the same way it did under coach Phil Housley.
"Looking at how Phil coached and his systems, I don't think the way I like to play is a whole lot different from how the team played last year," Lucia told NHL.com. "We want to be aggressive, we want to recruit players that can skate and take away time and space."
Sweden, which won the silver medal at last year's tournament, won't have two of its best players at the camp -- forwards Filip Forsberg and Elias Lindholm -- but they could have one of the tournament's best goaltenders, Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oscar Dansk.
Finland, which finished seventh last year, will have two recent first-round picks leading its attempt at redemption. Chicago Blackhawks forward prospect Teuvo Teravainen had five goals and six assists in six games, and Pittsburgh Penguins defense prospect Olli Maatta had three points in five games and could be in the running for the team captaincy.
Games start Aug. 4, with a split-squad USA White team playing Sweden, and USA Blue playing Finland. On Aug. 5, USA White plays Finland and USA Blue faces Sweden.
On Aug. 7, Canada plays Finland and a cut-down U.S. team plays Sweden; Aug. 8, it's the U.S. against Finland and Canada facing Sweden. Camp closes Aug. 10 after the U.S. plays Canada and Finland faces Sweden.
NHL.com will have full coverage of the camp in Lake Placid, including stories from each game and coverage of each team's practices at this blog, so check back often.