THE endless hockey season is close to bleeding into another, but defenceman Jacob Trouba does not sound bored this week in Lake Placid, N.Y.
That's where Team USA's world junior evaluation camp is taking place, with workouts and exhibition games against Sweden and Finland.
Trouba, the freshest first-round pick of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets, is one of 34 active players in the summer "friendlies."
"Well, this is pretty exciting to get competitive games again," Trouba told the Free Press on Wednesday before his team's game against Finland, which he sat out. He'll be in action today versus Sweden.
"And to have some (teammates) around you that you know, well, that's nice, but it doesn't make it any easier.
"It's just been a good week here, getting to play against good, competitive countries like Finland and Sweden."
The week-long, three-team exercise concludes Saturday.
After two seasons on the U.S. national development team, the hard-hitting, 6-1 defenceman was taken ninth overall at the draft in Pittsburgh.
Trouba's freshman year at the University of Michigan is only a few weeks away, and he said a hectic summer that began with the scouting combine in late May hasn't been all that bad.
"This has been an exciting summer with everything going on, but I have found a little time to take off," he said.
Since being in Winnipeg for a week in mid-July for the Jets' development camp, Trouba said he's been working out and just "hanging out with my family and friends."
The city's "hockey-crazy fans, that's what stood out for me," he said of his time in Winnipeg last month.
He chuckled when asked if he knew how many autographs he signed while in Winnipeg.
"Not a clue," he laughed.
Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger attended the evaluation camp earlier this week and said it's always a good idea to refrain from cartwheels over any on-ice summer activity.
The Jets' exposure to Trouba since the June draft has confirmed a few things, Heisinger said.
"At end of the day, what we've learned is the player we interviewed preliminarily at the scouting combine and at the draft is the person we drafted.
"There is nothing fake or phoney about him. What you see is what you get."