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Development Camp Draws 42 Prospects to St. Paul

Kunin, Soucy, Greenway among those expected to participate in 2017 camp at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild will welcome 42 draftees, free agents and invitees to Xcel Energy Center on Friday to begin its 2017 Developmental Camp.

Players will arrive Thursday, weigh in and go through baseline strength tests Friday before six days of on-ice work begins Saturday. Players will be split into two groups -- Team Green and Team White -- practicing daily at different times and competing against each other in two separate scrimmages; one on Tuesday and another on Thursday.

Among the 42 players scheduled to participate are 15 Wild draft picks, including five of the six selected two weeks ago in Chicago at the 2017 NHL Draft. Other draft picks include 2016 first-rounder Luke Kunin, fourth-round pick Brandon Duhaime and seventh rounders, Dmitry Sokolov and Braydyn Chizen.

Jordan Greenway will highlight the 2015 draftees, which include Gustav Bouramman, Nicholas Boka and Jack Sadek. A pair of 2013 draft picks with Minnesota Duluth connections -- defenseman Carson Soucy and forward Avery Peterson -- will also be in attendance.

The on-ice sessions will be led by Minnesota Wild assistant coaches Darby Hendrickson and Bob Woods, Iowa Wild Head Coach Derek Lalonde and Associate Head Coach David Cunniff, along with Minnesota Wild Assistant General Manager Andrew Brunette, Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir, Player Development Coach Richard Park, Skating Skills Coach Andy Ness and Goaltender Development Coach Frederic Chabot.

In addition, players will take part in several off-ice activities, including sports psychology, media training and nutrition education. 

While Bombardir has had his eye on many of of the players at the camp over the past year, the ones he looks forward to seeing most are the ones coming to their second camp.

Most players come to their first development camp with their eyes wide, he said. Some have just been drafted, while others are invitees looking to make a name. 

Second-year campers have been here before, used what they learned during their seasons, and are now back to build on their game.

Among those back for a second camp this year is Kunin, who completed his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin in March. He finished the year with 22 goals and 16 assists in 35 games, leading the Badgers to a 20-win season -- a 12-win improvement from his first campaign in Madison.

Kunin also served as the Badgers' first sophomore captain in 41 years.

"I know he's been working his butt off to put himself in the best position possible to succeed, starting next season," Bombardir said. "It'll be nice to see where he's at at this time compared to where he was last year."

Kunin turned pro after his season with Wisconsin concluded, finishing the year with Iowa by scoring five goals and three assists in 12 games. He is expected to push for a roster spot with Minnesota at training camp this fall.

Before that, however, he will show coaches where his game currently stands, and likely serve as a leader for a group of players with a large amount of turnover. 

Alex Tuch, who emerged as a leader last year in his third development camp, was traded to Vegas two weeks ago. There is a large number of first-time campers this summer, meaning Kunin and Soucy could be counted on to continue leadership roles each had with their college teams last season.

Like Kunin, Soucy also signed his first pro contract at the conclusion of his season and could push for playing time in Minnesota at training camp.

"Both of those guys are extremely driven. I know both will come in in great shape and they'll work hard," said Wild Vice President of Hockey Operations Brent Flahr. "They're working on their games, too, and they want to make an impression they're on the ice and in the weight room."

Greenway, who is set to return to Boston University for his junior season in the fall, will be participating in his third camp. In addition to his season with the Terriers, Greenway could be an Olympic hopeful with NHL players not expected to participate in PyeongChang in February 2018.

"It's always nice to see him grow from year to year," Bombardir said. "I remember a couple years ago, his very first development camp, there was just a really raw player there. You could tell that he was a good player and you could tell he had an incredible upside to his game. Just the growth from that year, even through last year, and seeing where he's at this summer, will be exciting."

Another player to keep an eye on at this year's camp is Sokolov, who scored 48 goals in 64 games with Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League last year. 

A seventh-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Sokolov did not participate in last year's camp because he was coming off an injury. 

"He's an intriguing guy. He's got an element to his game and that's scoring goals," Bombardir said. "He's got a lot of work to do in all areas away from the puck, but he continues to work on those, he continues to focus on them and continues to get better."

While Minnesota has scouted and seen its recent draft picks on the ice, camp will its coaching staff a good look at the newest members of the organization. 

Third-round pick Ivan Lodnia, fourth rounders Mason Shaw and Bryce Misley, fifth rounder Jacob Golden and seventh-round selection Nick Swaney are each expected to participate in this year's camp. 

"For all these guys, for us and for them, it's just learning this first time," Bombardir said. "Getting a feel for the organization, the other guys on the team and some things that we like to do. We try not to evaluate too much. You hope the guys can get better from year to year and that's as far as the evaluation goes."

In goal, the Wild will have one signed player to go with three invitees to camp. Adam Vay will be attending his second camp after playing in 39 games with Quad City of the ECHL last season.

The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Vay was incredibly raw at last year's camp, coming off a season in the Western States Hockey League, but flashed tremendous ability and athleticism in the crease at last year's camp. 

"It was just progress for him, understanding his strengths and his positioning in the net," Bombardir said. "He's such a big body that he should be able to use that size as an asset. I think just getting out, taking control of that blue ice as much as he could and squaring up the pucks is something that he had to focus on day in and day out."

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