Robin Lehner, the Senators' top goaltending prospect, will be among 31 players taking part in the club's annual development camp this week (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
The Ottawa Senators' future takes centre stage this week.
Thirty-one of the organization's top prospects arrive at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday morning for the beginning of the Senators' annual development camp. They'll participate in on-ice drills and scrimmages thoughout the week, including a 3-on-3 tournament on July 5 that annually puts the finishing touches on the camp.
Along the way, they'll also receive off-ice training and nutrition tips, vision training and sit in on a seminar about the importance of proper sleep. One of the highlights of the week comes on Canada Day, when prospects take part in an outdoor aerial activities challenge at the Chutes Coulonge Aerial Adventure Park in Fort Coulonge, Que.
For most of them, it'll also provide a vital roadmap for the summer training that sets players up for the season to come. And the Senators get a rare off-season glance at a large number of their prospects in one place at one time.
"It’s just an opportunity for us to get a snapshot of where the players are at and get an assessment," said Randy Lee, the Senators' director of player development and hockey administration. "We get a handle on where they're at, we find out their immediate needs and then we build a plan for them to go forward through the summer."
"The bottom line is, everybody’s got a developmental curve. Our job is to accelerate that developmental curve. So whether it’s conditioning, mental skills, skating technique, hand skills, food, nutrition or biochemistry, (we give them) all that stuff."
Included among the group of prospects attending the camp are all four of the Senators picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — forwards Jakub Culek (third round, 76th overall), Marcus Sorensen (fourth round, 106th) and Mark Stone (sixth round, 178th), and defenceman Bryce Aneloski (seventh round, 196th).
Also making their development camp debuts are a pair of recent free-agent signings, forwards Bobby Butler and David Dziurzynski. Butler, forward Zack Smith and defenceman Jared Cowen are the only camp participants who saw National Hockey League action last season. Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, wasn't able to take part in the camp last summer because he was recovering from major off-season knee surgery.
"It’s just an opportunity for us to get a snapshot of where the players are at and get an assessment. We get a handle on where they're at, we find out their immediate needs and then we build a plan for them to go forward through the summer. The bottom line is, everybody’s got a developmental curve. Our job is to accelerate that developmental curve."- Randy Lee
Smith and Cowen, in particular, are targeting the opportunity to earn a spot on the Senators roster when 2010-11 training camp arrives in September.
"Zack Smith specifically said 'I want to be there' (at development camp), because he wants to make our team next year," said Lee. "He's set his goals on making the team next year. The same with Jared. If he doesn't make our team next year, he has to go back to junior."
In all, 24 Senators draft picks are taking part in the camp, including former first-rounders Cowen and forward Jim O'Brien (2007). The camp roster includes three goaltenders — including top netminding prospect Robin Lehner — 10 defencemen and 17 forwards.
David Rundblad, the Swedish defence prospect acquired from the St. Louis Blues for the 16th overall pick in the 2010 draft, isn't scheduled to attend the camp. The Senators also didn't invite three young talents who played in the world hockey championship last spring — defenceman Erik Karlsson, along with forwards Peter Regin and Kaspars Daugavins.
All on-ice sessions during development camp are being held at the Bell Sensplex, starting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., and are open to the public.