SUMMER CAMPS PREP WORLD JUNIOR HOPEFULS
Seven Sabres prospects make their case for World Juniors
We are less than five months away from the start of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal, and the rosters for USA and Canada will start to take shape this weekend.
USA Hockey’s Evaluation Camp gets underway this Saturday in Lake Placid, with 42 invitees expected to attend the eight-day gathering. Among the group of eager campers will be five Sabres prospects, the largest representation of any NHL team.
Returnee Hudson Fasching (University of Minnesota) tops Buffalo’s quartet of forwards along with J.T. Compher (University of Michigan), who missed last year’s tournament in Sweden with a foot injury. Both players are expected to play a major role on this year’s American squad.
Joining Fasching and Compher up front are Connor Hurley and West Seneca-native Sean Malone. Hurley will be entering Notre Dame this fall after scoring 50 points (14+36) in 56 USHL games last season with Muskegon and Green Bay. Malone, who won a silver medal with the US Under-18 Team in 2013, collected 20 points in 31 games during his freshman season at Harvard.
Anthony Florentino, a fifth-round pick in 2013, is the only defenseman among Buffalo’s representatives. The six-foot-one Florentino posted 11 points (5+6) in his freshman campaign at Providence College in 2013-14.
The USA hopefuls will be split into Blue and White teams for practices and games against Sweden and Finland for the first three days. The roster will be pared down to one team for the final four days, and camp will culminate with a game against the Czech Republic on Aug. 9.
Sam Reinhart and Nicholas Baptiste are the lone Sabres prospects in the group of 41 players invited to Canada’s summer development camp in Brossard, Montreal and Sherbrooke, Que., from Aug. 3-8. Canada will have two days of practice before playing games against Russia and the Czech Republic.
After a 105-point season with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, Reinhart will be among 11 returning players to a Canadian team that lost the bronze medal game to Russia last year. There’s still a possibility that Reinhart could compete for a spot in Buffalo this season, but it wouldn’t preclude him from becoming part of Team Canada when December rolls around.
Baptiste led the Sudbury Wolves in scoring last season, posting career highs in goals (45), assists (44) and points (89) in 65 games. This will be Baptiste’s second attempt at representing Canada in international competition. In 2013, he assisted on the game-winning goal in Canada’s gold-medal win over the United States at the Under-18 World Championship.
Reinhart, the second overall pick in this June’s NHL Draft, is one of the 22 first-rounders on the Canadian roster. Forty of Canada’s 41 camp invitees have been drafted into the NHL, with returnee Connor McDavid being the lone 2015 draft-eligible player on the roster.
The USA camp roster features three players eligible for the 2015 Draft – forwards Jack Eichel and Kyle Connor, and defenseman Brandon Carlo. Sixteen-year-old forward Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Arizona) is the only 2016 draft-eligible player on either camp roster. There are also three undrafted players attending the American camp.