Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Smart/Sandhu worth watching as rookie camp opens

15 year-old Jordan Sandhu is small but skilled
  • Eight of the ten players the Kelowna Rockets selected in the WHL bantam draft in May are attending rookie camp. Among those on the ice Thursday morning will be 15 year-old defenceman Jonathan Smart. Smart was taken 22nd overall by Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey. The only two drafted players that won't be attending rookie camp are Americans Cooper Haar from Huntington Beach, California and Colby Bukes from Littleton, Colorado. 
  • The camp isn't about who's not here but who is. No ones eligibility is hurt by attending rookie camp and its a nice way for these young players to dip their feet into the WHL waters so to speak. I hope all of them consider participating in the rookie camp as an honour. These players are getting a look-see from one of the most successful major junior franchises in Canada. When I was 15, I would have given my left leg to have a chance of setting my skates on Prospera Place ice. For the 100 or so attending rookie camp, the next four days should be nothing short of a thrill.
  • Of the eight Canadian born players the Rockets drafted in May, all eight are from BC. Fifteen year-old Kyle Topping is from Ganges, BC. Where the heck is that, I asked  myself? Hello Google Maps. Ganges, BC is on Salt Spring Island which is near Duncan ...Kim Dillabaugh's hometown. Still confused? Ganges is known for Salt Spring Coffee which is sold on BC Ferries. What more do you need to know? Topping was an 11th round bantam pick.
  • I have never seen Jonathan Smart play. I will get that chance at rookie camp and I anticipate the Kelowna resident will also see time with the 'big boys' at main camp next week. What I want to see is how dominant he can be in his age group. It is a massive step for a 15 year-old player when he challenges himself against older players that are 16 to 20. Smart should be one of the best players on the ice at rookie camp.
  • One player of interest for me at rookie camp will be 15 year-old Richmond forward Jordan Sandhu. Sandhu is the younger brother of a terrific player with the Everett Silvertips - Tyler Sandhu. Tyler scored 19 goals in his second season in Everett. I anticipate the younger Jordan to have the same skill set as his older brother. Both are small but obviously crafty. My belief is Jordan has a greater chance of showing off his offensive talents in Kelowna, where down the road Tyler Sandhu likely wouldn't receive the same freedom in the offensive zone under coach Kevin Constantine.
  • Tyler Mosienko and Ryan Cuthbert are just two undrafted rookies that attending Rockets camp and eventually made the team. Those were two terrific players that will go down in franchise history as having played over 300 games in the WHL.
  • Can an undrafted, unlisted player at rookie camp make an impact and catch the eye of the scouts? Just ask current Rockets d-man Dalton Yorke. Yorke came to camp and was eventually listed. The 17 year-old made an impact last season playing in 40 WHL games and getting into 10 fights.

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