The 2019 Rookie Showcase in Belleville next weekend offers a variety of opportunities for Sens prospect Josh Norris. It marks his first game donning a Senators jersey, his first chance to make a positive impression on the ice with the new coaching staff and his first game action since suffering a shoulder injury at last year's World Juniors.
With NHL spots up for grabs in Ottawa this season, Norris hopes to show that the hard work he put into his offseason training and recovery have paid off.
"It wasn't so much just rehab," Norris said about his summer training routine. "Once you get past the 4-month mark it was more about ramping up our regular workouts and trying to get my injured shoulder as strong as the other one. There were points where things don't go as you expect and you need to adjust your training a little bit but I'm really happy with where it's at right now."
Norris was held out of contact drills during the Sens' Development Camp in late June causing him to miss participating in the team's annual prospect scrimmage and 3-on-3 tournament. While he was forced out of some on-ice development opportunities that week, he made the decision to stick around the city in order to continue his progress and recovery.
"I stayed for an extra two weeks after Development Camp which allowed me to continue my offseason training as well as tour around Ottawa and get to know the city a little more," he said. "Being around the team staff and strength coaches every day was great too and definitely helped get me ready for the season."
Video: Josh Norris Mic'd Up at Sens Dev Camp
His shoulder back to 100%, Norris is looking forward to playing in a real game setting for the first time since falling to Finland in the Gold Medal Game at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Vancouver.
"I didn't want to come to Ottawa to start the season still worrying about how my shoulder would be," said Norris. "It was exciting news to hear that I'm able to take contact and I'm looking forward to participating fully at the Rookie Showcase and training camp."
A first round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2017, Norris was ineligible to participate in events like the Rookie Showcase in the past due to NCAA regulations and he's excited to be a part of such a talented group of prospects for his tournament debut.
"There's a lot of hype around this team with all the young talent in the organization," he said. "With this being my first rookie tournament, I'm excited to take it all in and just have some fun with the guys."
Norris also shared that he's looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere and fans in Belleville as part of the 4-day event. His focus remains on making the Senators' NHL roster this season but he's excited to see firsthand what his peers have shared about hockey in Belleville.
"For us, it's pretty convenient to have it hosted in Belleville," said Norris. "I've heard nothing but good things from the guys that have played there so I'm excited to take it all in that weekend."
Like his fellow prospects in Ottawa, Norris hopes to make the most of his opportunity at the 2019 Rookie Showcase before the team's NHL training camp opens in September. That starts with the confidence that comes along with a clean bill of health before the season.
"Coming off my surgery and the recovery, this is a great chance for me ahead of main camp," Norris said. "It's an opportunity to get into some live games knowing my shoulder is at 100% and will hopefully give me a confidence boost before training camp gets underway."
The 2019 Rookie Showcase is set to run from September 6th-9th in Belleville with the Senators prospects participating in three games over that span. For more details on the tournament schedule and tickets, please click here.