Offseason 101: Pre-Draft Camp
People who are close to the game realize something that the casual fan may not be aware of. There is no such thing as an “offseason.” The business of junior hockey is a twelve-month endeavor with eyes always looking forward, seeking the players who will one day have the privilege of wearing the RoadRunner logo.
The RoadRunners have a small battalion of dedicated scouts who are constantly on the lookout for the caliber of player who will gel with the vision and goals of RoadRunner hockey. It’s not always about finding the player that scores the most goals. A player’s character goes a long way and can make the difference between being invited to Topeka or staying home. Our scouts are almost never in the spotlight but are a vital part of the operation. The RoadRunner coaches attend various events throughout the season, and in the summer as well, to help identify and recruit these players.
Not every skater who comes to camp expects to make the team. A lot of players who are a year or two away from eligibility will attend to measure themselves against some of the older, better players. The benefit of attending a camp is opportunity. A player will be seen not only by the RoadRunners staff but also coaches and scouts from Tier 3 and Midget AAA teams who attend. This affords even more options for players who can’t quite crack the Topeka roster but can still contribute to a team in a different league.
The RoadRunners have two camps planned this summer. This first, held in Somerset, WI, is termed a “pre-draft” camp because it is exactly that; a camp for players to show their skills before the NAHL Entry Draft on June 4, 2013. It is an open camp, meaning that players from anywhere are welcome to register and attend. The number of attendees can vary but generally over 100 skaters will attend. The players get divided into several teams, play a number of games while scouts and coaches watch and appraise. From these games, players who have stood out over the weekend are selected for two all-star teams and given an extra opportunity to impress during a final game on the last day of camp. After the all-star game, coaches meet with the players for personal exit interviews. A one-on-one opportunity for players to receive constructive criticism and advice from the coaching staff.
And as with everything that the RoadRunners do, the Pre-Draft Camp is a complete team effort. Scouts help coach during games, members of the regular season off-ice-official crew keep score and run the clock and the team equipment manager makes sure all the skates are sharp and the uniforms ready. It’s all hands on deck during the offseason and the Pre-Draft Camp is no different.
Offseason 101 continues next week with The NAHL Draft. Make sure to be in class on time and bring an apple for the teacher, would ya?