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This article was published 11/9/2015 (1529 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They talked about the camaraderie they've developed as Winnipeg Jets prospects and how that should make for a fun few days in Penticton, B.C. But don't make the mistake of thinking this weekend's Young Stars Classic will be like a frat house party for the best and the brightest in the organization.
They know the eyes of management will be upon them. And they know winning can make the whole lot of them look a lot better when it comes to evaluation.
An example — here's Nikolaj Ehlers when asked what would be a good tournament for him:
"Obviously, three wins," began the young Dane. "It's possible. We have a good team and we can do it."
The Jets enter the Young Stars with a talent-laden lineup that includes just two free-agent additions in Czech winger Jiri Fronk and Brendan O'Donnell, a Winnipeg product, who spent the last four years with the University of North Dakota.
It could have been even more stacked, too, but five members of the 2015 draft class — including first rounders Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic — are headed to the NCAA and are not eligible to participate.
But it is a lineup that features a dynamic, skilled player in Ehlers, two of the best goaltending prospects in the game in Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie as well as the likes of Andrew Copp and Josh Morrissey, both of whom will be pushing for work with the Jets.
"It's fun to get back out there and starting training camp off with our rookie camp," said Morriseey after practice Thursday at MTS Iceplex. "It's a long summer for everyone and everyone's excited to get back out there... we saw some fans out here. It's exciting. I think everyone is looking forward to getting on that plane and heading out there for my third time.
"You just have to go out there and play your game. For a lot of guys it's their first game of the season at a high pace, and everyone wants to go out there and show their best. Probably the best way to go about it is to come out with a hard start and get yourself into it early, whether that's making a hit or making good passes, and go from there."
The Jets Young Stars lineup features two Winnipeggers — O'Donnell and defenceman Peter Stoykewych, drafted in 2010 by the Atlanta Thrashers and destined to join the Manitoba Moose after finishing his NCAA career at Colorado College.
"Every time you step on the ice you want to make a good impression and I'm excited to get going here," said Stoykewych, a Winnipeg South Blues product. "This is awesome. Being a Winnipeg boy you dream of playing professional hockey, and the fact that I get the chance to do that in front of my friends and family here and get the opportunity to try out for the team here is great.
"The Jets weren't here when I was growing up and I remember days going to the rink and watching the Moose play, the Mike Keanes and Nolan Baumgartners, and just wishing I could be out there one day. And so the fact that I can be out there is really humbling."
The Jets open the Young Stars Classic today against the Calgary Flames, face the Vancouver Canucks Sunday and the Edmonton Oilers Monday.
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