NAHL pre-draft tryout camps yield prospective draft picks
May 26, 2013
The NAHL's Minot Minotauros held their first pre-draft camp in Las Vegas, Nevada.
One of the essential parts of the team building process each year in the NAHL are tryout camps. Not only do tryout camps give coaches and scouts a look at prospective and future talent, but it is one the main ways that players get noticed. The first three weeks of NAHL tryout camps are very important because they lead up to the NAHL Draft, which will be held on Tuesday, June 4th.
When understanding why tryout camps are held, it is first important to understand how an NAHL roster is created. An NAHL roster is composed of several types of players: veterans, tenders, draft picks and those ‘free agents’ that are spotted at tryout camps.
In the end, tryout camps are a necessary component of developing an NAHL roster. Un-drafted and non-tendered players are eligible to try out for any NAHL team. Many free-agent players earn roster spots in tryout camps, and therefore are a very important part of an NAHL's recruiting process.
In the case of players that see their name selected on draft day, they more than likely have been a part of a recent or pre-draft tryout camp and have caught the eye of the coaches. One of the those current camps is for the Aberdeen Wings, who finished last season as one of the hottest teams in the NAHL under new head coach Travis Winter. “We are very excited for our upcoming Pre-Draft camp. Each year we have found players at this camp that have made big impacts on our team. It projects to be an exciting camp with a lot of good prospects,” said Winter.
Reports across the league are already coming in from camps already held and the news is good across the board. The 2013 NAHL Organization of the Year, the Johnstown Tomahawks, were pleased with their first camp held a few weeks ago in Michigan.
“The talent level was the best we have seen to date,” said General Manager Rick Boyd. “Of the nearly 90 players who attended the camp, we have invited 19 to come back to Johnstown for Main Camp in July."
As typical of most NAHL tryout camps, the players are divided into teams and each player played in three to four games before cutting down to two teams for an All-Star Game on the final day.
“We’re only interested in bringing on the best players who understand our philosophy of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment not only to the team and their teammates, but also to the community,” said Boyd. “With both old and new faces, we know we’ll have built a team to contend with come this September.”
The North Division regular season champion Soo Eagles are also hard at work with two pre-draft camps. Their first one held in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, was a big success, which saw over 140 players at the first camp. The second will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania next weekend.
Those that attended the Eagles camp came from all walks of different levels of hockey… some junior, some midget and some high school. With nine players aging out and six from last year’s team with an NCAA commitment, head coach Bruno Bragagnolo is keeping a close eye on the talent. “We have some holes to fill and tryout camps give us a good look at not only who we would like to draft, but also who may be a good fit for us in the future.”
Another one of the benefits of NAHL tryout camps is the variance of locations. In the three weeks leading up to the draft there are over two dozen NAHL tryout camps for players to choose from. Those pre-draft camps are held in 12 different states, which include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
And, if a player doesn’t see his name get selected on draft day, there are still a wide selection of open camps that teams have to finalize the group of players they will invite to training camp beginning in August.