Several Chicago prospects lace up their skates for USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp in Plymouth, Michigan, which runs July 24-August 3. The camp will serve as the final evaluation for the 2022 U.S. Junior National Team prior to the IIHF Championships, set for the second week of August.
Included on the 64-player camp guest list are 2022 draft picks are forwards Frank Nazar IIIone of three Blackhawks first-round picks 13th overall, third-round pick Aidan Thompsonand Dominique James. Rising Notre Dame Junior Landon Slaggert will also attend camp as a Blackhawks prospect after being selected in the 2020 third-round draft at 79th overall.
On the blue line, Minnesota-Duluth teammates and prospects Wyatt Kaiser and Connor Kelley will also be attending camp next week, each of them entering their freshman year of college.
Video: Microphone: Frank Nazar
Nazar, who is due to attend the University of Michigan for his freshman season this fall, has been part of the U.S. National Team development program for several years, as well as the U.S. U17 and U18 National Teams in 2020-21 and 2021. – 22 seasons, respectively. In last year’s World Junior U18 Championship, Nazar played 6 games, totaling 9 points (3G, 6A) and 7 plus-minus.
Thompson, the 90th pick in this year’s draft, was just added to the camp roster. This will be the first US Juniors appearance for the Fort Collins, Colorado native, who will attend the University of Denver in the fall for his first campaign.
James, a sixth-round pick ranked 173rd overall, will also attend the judging camp for the first time after a strong freshman season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In the 2021-22 season, James played in 39 games and had 18 points (6G, 12A) and 11 plus-minus.
Slaggert, like Nazar, has been involved in the US national system for some time, as of 2018; During the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, the Fighting Irish striker appeared in the U17 and U18 national teams and the USNTDP Juniors team. In the 2020-21 season, Slaggert was part of the U20 Junior World Championship squad, where he played 7 games.
“It’s definitely a different dynamic, that’s for sure,” Slaggert said last week at the end of Blackhawks development camp. “I had to train a bit harder earlier to be ready for this camp, then I honestly think it’s a good time to prepare for it. It’s an honor to represent your country, so I I’m excited to come out for the third time now, so it should be a good time.”
Kaiser, a third-round pick and 81st overall in the 2020 draft, is participating in the US Juniors camp for the first time. In his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, however, the defenseman played 62 games, racking up 29 points with double-digit assists each campaign.
Kelley, who will transfer to play at Providence College this fall, has also been a member of the U.S. U17 and U18 teams and junior teams with Slaggert since 2018. During his two years at Duluth, a seventh-round selection in the 2021 draft ( 204th overall), played 64 games and had 16 points, including 5 goals.
The six Blackhawks prospects will be evaluated at camp next week in hopes of competing at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton this summer, which was originally scheduled for December 2021 and January 2022. This camp will also serve as an evaluation of the roster for the 2023 World Juniors, which will take place from December 26, 2022 to January 5, 2023 in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.