UNH Players at NHL Development Camps: Update
"Just enjoy it and work hard, and everything else will take care of itself” (words of wisdom from brother James). “Don’t try to do too much, just try to be yourself and see what they think about it, but don’t try and do too much or try to impress anyone. Just be yourself.”
Every July, all teams of the National Hockey League conduct development camps at their primary training facilities. Each team invites young players who have been drafted by the team plus free agents who are considered pro prospects. These "prospect camps" last for several days and include conditioning drills and tests, on-ice drills, skating instruction, and scrimmages. In recent years, undrafted UNH players such as Bobby Butler and Paul Thompson have participated in development camps and eventually earned a professional contract with an NHL organization. Other players like Phil DeSimone and Blake Kessel, who were drafted by an NHL team before their years at UNH, have used these development camps to advance their hockey careers. This summer, five current UNH players will participate in NHL development camps.
Back in June 2007, former UNH star James van Riemsdyk was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers. JvR was the second player picked overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft behind only Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. Following two memorable seasons at UNH, JvR established himself as one of the rising stars of the NHL during three years with the Flyers. He recently was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. JvR's younger brother, Trevor, is carving his own unique path to an NHL career. During his freshman season at UNH, TvR quickly established himself as a top defenseman scoring 4 goals and 15 assists and earning a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. TvR was not drafted by an NHL team but he drew the attention of NHL scouts early this season.
TvR has been invited by two NHL teams - the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers - to participate in their development camps. He recently completed the Senators' Prospect Camp which ran from June 26 to July 2 (Photo Credit: QMI Agency/Tony Caldwell). Next Monday, TvR begins the week-long camp conducted by the Flyers. It's worth noting that when JvR was traded by the Flyers, he had positive comments about how he had been supported and treated by General Manager Paul Holmgren. Now, a second van Riemsdyk son will don a Flyers' uniform in competition.
In July 2009, a very young-looking Nick Sorkin was invited to the Washington Capitals' Development Camp (Photo Credit: capsinpictures.com). At the time, Sorkin was an 18-year-old, recent graduate of the Bullis School - a prep school in Potomac, Maryland. Sorkin had been named by The Washington Post as the All-Met Hockey Player of the Year, had committed to play for UNH, and planned on playing for the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL. Nick Sorkin was not drafted by an NHL team and did not participate in any NHL development camps during the last two summers. However, following a breakout sophomore season in which he scored 9 goals and 26 assists for UNH, Sorkin has been invited to two NHL camps. Sorkin just completed a four-day prospect camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs. On July 9th, Sorkin will join TvR at the Philadelphia Flyers Development Camp.
UNH Senior Greg Burke was an 18-year-old graduate of Oyster River High School in June 2008 when he was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 6th Round of the draft (174th overall pick). In an interview with Burke at his first Washington Capitals' Development Camp in July 2008, he described the excitement of getting "a peek at the life of a pro." In the fall of 2008, Burke joined the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders of the USHL. Early in that season, Burke helped Team USA win the gold medal in the World Junior A Challenge. In eight subsequent games with Cedar Rapids, Burke scored 2 goals but he suffered his first major shoulder injury in January, ending his season with the Rough Riders.
Greg Burke entered his third Capitals' Development Camp in July 2010 following a relatively healthy freshman season at UNH. He had a strong camp and was singled-out for recognition by then Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. In an interview, Burke was asked if the camp had him looking forward to a pro career. He replied “I’m still at school, still focused on bringing a championship to UNH. Mostly these camps open my eyes to what I need to do better and what I need to work on.” Last summer, Burke entered the prospect camp following a sophomore season shortened by another shoulder injury and mononucleosis. Monday morning, Greg Burke will suit up for the Washington Capitals (Photo Credit: capsinpictures.com) once again for his fifth summer camp with the organization. Although he dealt with a dislocated finger midway through his junior year, Burke had his most productive season at UNH scoring 6 goals and 5 assists in 34 games.
Soon after Eric Knodel's 19th birthday in June, 2009, he was selected 128th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL Entry Draft. It was his second year of being eligible for the NHL draft. In July 2009, Knodel attended his first Maple Leafs' Development Camp. In an interview with McKeen's Hockey soon after camp, Knodel provided this summary of his first camp experience:
"One of the main things that they taught us was just going back to basics with skating, learning how to skate, and slowing the game down for yourself. The whole week I was there, we did power skating. It was down to basics, down to your stride, down to everything, to make sure that you have everything going on right. They just told me to play with my head. I mean, slow the game down and take over if I can."Yesterday, Eric Knodel completed his 4th annual development camp with the Maple Leafs. In a blog posting a scout for McKeen's Hockey offered the following observations on Knodel's performance at camp:
"Someone I have been following if for no other reason than to see how a 6'6 defenceman develops. Knodel moves well for someone with his height but he needs to get quicker to compete more effectively. Knodel just completed his first season with the Wildcats so he has not seen as much ice-time as some of the other prospects his age. Admittedly, he mentioned that the Leafs development staff have given him homework to improve his footwork. Knodel showed good hockey sense with the puck advancing the puck quickly out of his own zone. He can also afford to be more physical along the boards."Academically, Eric Knodel will be entering his junior year at UNH. However, since he trained with the team as a freshman but did not play until his sophomore year, he will be playing his second season with the Wildcats. Last season, Knodel scored 3 goals and 9 assists in 37 games.
In April, stalwart defenseman Connor Hardowa was named the Captain of the 2012-13 UNH Wildcats. Now comes news that Hardowa has been invited to the Calgary Flames Development Camp which will run July 9-13. For Hardowa, an undrafted invitee to the camp, this will be his first experience competing in an NHL camp. Last season, Hardowa scored 5 goals and 12 assists in 36 UNH games.