While Training Camp at Madison Square Garden is certainly on their minds, four of the Rangers' selections from the 2001 NHL Entry Draft have some international business to take care of before they hit the ice in New York on September 12. First round pick Dan Blackburn (Canada), third rounder Garth Murray (Canada), fourth round selection Bryce Lampman (United States) and eighth rounder Ryan Hollweg (United States) are taking part in their respective country's summer evaluation camps to prepare for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship. The annual tournament will take place from December 25, 2001 to January 4, 2002 in Pardubice and Hradec Králové, Czech Republic and features the best players in the world under the age of 20. The Czech Republic captured its first gold medal in the World Junior tournament last year.
The USA National Junior Evaluation Camp is currently in its second phase after three days of intrasquad scrimmages. Earlier this week, 43 American-born players, selected by USA Hockey as prospective players for the 2002 U.S. National Junior Team, displayed their skills in Lake Placid, New York. For the next five days, 27 select players from this group will compete in a Summer Challenge, which includes a four-game series vs. Finland's Junior roster. Lampman, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, and Hollweg, a native of Downey, California, both made the cut and will participate in the Challenge.
Rangers amateur scout Bob Crocker is in Lake Placid for the camp, along with Vice President of Player Development and Assistant General Manager Don Maloney and Director of Player Personnel Tom Renney. Crocker was impressed with the play of the two Blueshirt prospects over the last few days.
"It's been a good camp so far for our guys," noted Crocker, who will begin his 10th season as a Rangers scout. "Lampman has probably looked as good as any other defenseman on the ice so far, including a few guys who were drafted much higher than him this summer. He just continues to impress me. He is so sound defensively in his own end and has actually shown more offense than I've seen from him over the last few days. He has great vision out there and makes really good decisions with the puck under pressure. Hollweg has played well too. He is such a feisty, intense player out there. He's shown good strength on his feet and has made some impressive plays."
Overall, 18 of the U.S. prospects played the 2000-01 season with a North American junior league team, 11 played with Division I college programs and six hail from high school or prep programs. Among the 2001 National Junior Team veterans are first round NHL draft picks Michael Komisarek (Montreal), R.J. Umberger (Vancouver), Tim Gleason (Ottawa) and David Steckel (Los Angeles).
The Canadian Development Camp, which began on August 1 and concludes on August 10 in Calgary, Alberta, consists of 44 players who were selected by the Canadian Hockey Association's Director of Scouting, Barry Trapp, in collaboration with three regional Canadian scouts who have spent the last year evaluating players for the National Junior Team program as well as the National Under-18 program.
Inclusion in these camps does not guarantee a spot on either National Team's roster, as the final roster decisions will be made in the fall.