The WHL’s seventh annual U.S. Prospects Camp is set to get underway this weekend in Anaheim, CA.
The camp, which runs from April 13 – 15 at the Anaheim Ice Facility, provides a unique opportunity for U.S. born hockey players to participate with other top ranked 1997 and 1998-born players, and receive elite-level instruction from many of the WHL’s top coaches. It’s the only evaluation camp conducted by the Western Hockey League in the U.S. this season.
“We are extremely excited about the group of players we have assembled for this year’s WHL U.S. Prospects Camp,” said WHL director of player development & recruitment Tyler Boldt. “This camp will give our Clubs one last opportunity to evaluate the top rated players in the Western U.S. before the WHL Bantam Draft, as well as evaluate an elite group of prospects for the 2013 draft.”
The WHL is the largest Major Junior Hockey League in North America and is a leading supplier of player talent to the National Hockey League.
Virtually all of the WHL’s 22 Member Clubs will have scouts in attendance at the U.S. Prospects camp to evaluate players’ ability to play in one of the world’s top development League for junior aged players.
Currently, the WHL boasts 34 U.S.-born players in the League. Several of those players took part in the U.S. Prospects camp over the years including Medicine Hat Tigers’ star and Anaheim Ducks prospect Emerson Etem, Edmonton Oil Kings’ sniper Tyler Maxwell, Kelowna Rockets forward and New York Rangers prospect Shane McColgan, and Spokane Chiefs’ rookie Liam Stewart.
“I’m real happy I made the decision to attend the camp,” said Stewart, who took part in the 2009 edition of the camp and caught the eye of Chiefs’ general manager Tim Speltz. “I was impressed with the level of professionalism everyone had and how they treated their prospects.
“I thought the league did a great job of exposing the WHL to the Southern California market and it opened my eyes to the type of opportunity it provided to me as a player,” he said.
This year’s camp will mark the seventh edition of the event. Since the inaugural event in 2006, the WHL U.S. Prospects camp has helped expose players from all over the western United States to the WHL level of play, and increased the profile of the WHL in the western U.S.
The benefits of the camp have been mutual. The players get exposure to elite-level coaching and instruction, and a glimpse of what the WHL is all about. The WHL, meanwhile, has been able to expand its talent pool by showing players in western United States that they have other choices, in terms of pursuing their hockey career.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids because it provides them another option for them, and it’s important for them to know they have different options,” said Prince George Cougars head coach Dean Clark, who was one of the coaches at last year’s event and will join Calgary’s Mike Williamson, Kootenay’s Kris Knoblauch and Everett’s Mark Ferner as the coaches at this year’s event.
“For the League, it’s huge, because it expands the player pool and provides great exposure to the WHL in those areas of North America,” said Clark. “Certainly, with some of the good players the WHL has brought in because of that camp, it’s raised the talent level.”
Boldt reiterates the importance of the camp in helping educate players in the western United States about the Western Hockey League, noting it’s a much an educational event for parents of the players as well.
“The WHL has made huge inroads in the past few years in recruiting top talent from the U.S., and this year’s camp will continue to strengthen these efforts,” he said.
For more on the seventh annual WHL U.S. Prospects camp in Anaheim, CA, visit the WHL Prospects Website
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)