Training camps are a staple of hockey in
September, as teams gear up for another 82-game battle. To some, the
best hockey is played in September, as desperate players play desperate
hockey in search of living out their dream of a professional contract.
Youngsters battling youngsters, hoping to make an impression on scouts
and management. Youngsters battling veterans for the final roster spot
on the big club.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced they will
be hosting their 2003 Rookie Evaluation Camp on Wednesday, September
10th, with dozens of Blue Jacket prospects, familiar faces to those who
search out the future of the Columbus organization. However, there will
be several new faces on the ice, as the Columbus Blue
Jackets have extended their hand to several youngsters outside of the
Name: Darryl Boyce
2002-03 Club: Toronto St Michaels (OHL)
Darryl Boyce, a 19-year-old center who has spent
the last two
seasons with Toronto St. Michaels Majors of the Ontario Hockey League,
undrafted forward who may not put up many points, but plays a very
In fact, offense really isn’t a adjective that would immediately come
when discussing Boyce’s game. While Boyce may not be mistaken for a
goal scorer, he does contribute regularly in the offensive end. With 37
points (16-21-37) in 64 games for the Majors in 2002-03.
Standing at 6’0″, Boyce has respectable height,
however his weight, a lean 172 pounds, may be of some concern. If Boyce
would be able to put on weight, it is likely he would look much more
attractive on the open market. Whether or not his efforts in the
Columbus Blue Jackets Rookie Camp will go unnoticed or not remains to
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Name: Cory Stillman
2002-03 Club: Kingston (OHL)
originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2001 NHL Entry
Draft, went unsigned mainly because he struggled constantly with
injuries throughout his junior career with the Kingston Frontenacs.
After surviving his first two seasons relatively injury free, Stillman
played a total of 90 games in his next two seasons after that.
Described as a big, tough center who is difficult
to move from out in front of the net with has surprisingly good hands,
Stillman’s faults still shone through, something that may have helped
the Islanders in making their decision not to sign him. Despite having
good speed while in full stride, Stillman has issues with acceleration,
a problem that’s plagued him throughout his junior career.
Name: Brandon Benedict
2002-03 Club: Halifax (QMJHL)
who has spent his entire junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads of
the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, remains undrafted and unsigned,
despite putting up impressive offensive numbers. Performing well in
both the regular season and post-season, Benedict managed to garner
some attention from the Columbus Blue Jackets organization for his
offensive abilities and his aggressiveness on the ice.
The reason, however, Benedict has yet to receive a
real shot at the professional level is due to his lack of size.
Standing in at a meagre 5’9″ and a lean 180 pounds, Benedict’s body may
not be physically mature enough to handle the rigors that come with a
more physical league.
Name: Ryan Bowness
2002-03 Club: Brampton (OHL)
The name Ryan
Bowness should immediately spark a memory in the minds of Columbus Blue
Jacket fans. Made the 236th overall selection in the 2002 NHL Entry
Draft, Bowness was not tendered a contract, and was thus set free as an
unrestricted free agent. Familiarity breeds contempt, however, as
Bowness is back, participating in yet another Columbus Blue Jackets
Not only will Bowness participate in the Columbus
Blue Jackets Rookie Camp, but it appears as though he may be
participating with the Blue Jackets Player Selection Camp as well. A
strong camp there could go a long way for Bowness, who is still in
search of his first professional contract.
Name: Robin Leblanc
2002-03 Club: Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
Right-winger Robin Leblanc of the Baie-Comeau
Drakkar could be one of the more interesting players to watch at the
Columbus Blue Jackets Rookie Evaluation Camp. In the offensively driven
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Leblanc is no stranger to averaging
better than a point-per-game. It seems as though offense isn’t the only
aspect Leblanc can provide, however. His 103 penalty minutes in 2001-02
seemed uncharacteristic of a point-per-game player, who struggled
offensively when being aggressive.
Leblanc, who was the New Jersey Devils third round
draft selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, was not tendered an offer,
and thus became an unrestricted free agent. Described as a player not
willing to go into the corners, Leblanc has made efforts to change
that. Correcting the knock of not being tough enough is very important
to his career, and adding an aggressive nature to his already great
hands and good speed can only help his chances of a professional
Name: Nate Kiser
2002-03 Club: Plymouth (OHL)
Nate Kiser, teammate of former Columbus Blue
Jackets prospect Cole Jarrett, was originally selected by the Phoenix
Coyotes in the 2000 Entry Draft, 160th overall. Described as an
aggressive defensive defenseman, Kiser certainly has the resume, and
the penalty minutes, to back that up. Through his four seasons with the
Plymouth Whalers, Kiser has broken the century mark for penalty minutes
in each of these season. Nate, 21, possesses solid size and a
willingness to mix it up all over the ice, and more importantly, in
front of the net as well.
Name: Martin Kubaliak
2002-03 Club: Medicine Hat (WHL)
This Slovak defenseman participated in his first
season of North American hockey when he suited up in 2002-03 with the
Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old
defenseman went untouched in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, but there’s no
doubt the Columbus Blue Jackets have had their eye on him. Kubaliak has
a physical stature that appears threatening to the opposition. Although
his size, 6’3″ may be intimidating, Kubaliak needs to play more
physical in order to get the most out of his frame.
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Name: T.J. Reynolds
2002-03 Club: Wheeling (ECHL)
It isn’t difficult to figure out what T.J.
Reynolds would bring to the 2002-03 Columbus Blue Jackets Rookie
Evaluation Camp. In fact, it should be clear as day. T.J. Reynolds is a
heavyweight, no more, no less. His 371 minutes in penalties in his
first professional season is truly an indication of this. He certainly
isn’t afraid to back down from any oncoming opposition.
Reynolds, once part of the Florida Panthers
organization, would automatically bring two things to any club, never
mind the Columbus Blue Jackets. Reynolds ability to intimidate his
opponents, and physically punish them are his two biggest assets, and
seemingly his only assets.
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Name: Stuart Simmons
2002-03 Club: Brampton (OHL)
Stuart Simmons, teammate to fellow Battalion Ryan
Bowness, quite possibly could’ve sparked some interest in the Columbus
Blue Jackets on draft day, and although not selected in the 2003 NHL
Entry Draft, Simmons could see himself joining the Columbus franchise
if he has a solid Rookie Evaluation Camp. A sturdy stay-at-home
defenseman type, Simmons is not afraid to get physical, nor is he
afraid to drop the gloves, doing so on several occasions in 2002-03,
his rookie campaign. It will be interesting to see how closely the
Columbus Blue Jackets watch this defenseman, who was made the 69th
selection in the 2000 OHL Priority Draft.
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