Like every year, there is a lot of questions heading into this year's training camp. I had a chance to ask Broncos Head Coach and General Manager Dean Chynoweth most of them in a recent interview. Where the competition for spots will be, what's the 20 year-old situation going to look like and what player's he's excited to see take the next step....
Here's the transcript....
JK: Training camp is here... it's the time of year isn't it....
Chynoweth: It's exciting. It's the time of year where you have had enough summer and everybody is anxious to get on the ice. You see it with the kids coming back in good shape looking for some early ice or working out at the hockey school and skating at night... it's a good time of the year.
JK: Where do you see the battles at training camp forming? There's a lot of questions as to whether the rookies can fill the void of some of the departing players.
Chynoweth: Up front, there is potentially a lot of graduating players. There's a group of 16 year-olds and a real group of 17's that are all competing for limited spots. We like the progress of all of our guys and to get them back in this environment the battle up front will be an exciting one to watch.
On the back-end, depending on who we return there, there's a couple 16's and a 17 (year-olds) that also will be competing for limited spots.
JK: Over your time here there's always been that statement heading into training camp of some of the veterans being pushed for spots by some of the younger players. Is that the case this season?
Chynoweth: I don't think that's as big as issue as it's been in previous years. I think we've taken a step in the right direction in our organization and the kids coming back know what they need to do.
The biggest thing is the 2nd year guys to not have the sophomore jinx type thing and wondering why things aren't going there way and not doing the work necessary. Players always think it's going to be easier because they are a year older and that's just not the case, it doesn't work that way.
We're going have to refresh everybody of how we played and the commitments we made last year to get where we need to. Right now everyone is anxious and once we settle into camp and our feet hit the ground I think it will fall into place.
JK: I wouldn't call it a dilemma at the 20 year-old spot, and maybe it's a good problem to have. But it's too many bodies and not enough spots. Where does it stand right now?
Chynoweth: It doesn't stand anywhere until we get those guys back. We have a number of those guys going to NHL training camps. It's a situation that I've been through before and I'm fairly familiar with the process from the NHL teams when or if the players are coming back. We will be well into the season before we have an idea of how that's going to play out.
JK: All the potential 20 year-old scenarios.... there's a lot of them. Is it something you're losing sleep over thinking about what three will be a part of this group?
Chynoweth: No, I learned a long time ago those are things that are out of your control so there is no sense wasting your time and energy over that. I've been more focused on seeing our young drafts and listed players. I'm more anxious to see where some of those young kids are at and obviously some of the returning guys and how they come back.
JK: Have you been fielding calls about your group of 20's from other G.M's? There isn't an abundance of 20's out there, some teams need to fill two or maybe all three of their spots. Are you getting some interest?
Chynoweth: I had a lot of calls at the end of last season of what our plans may be and have taken a few calls but other than a brief discussion there isn't much to be said until things play out and we see who's back and what position they're at.
JK: There was a group of players at the end of the season who really stepped forward like Cody Eakin, Justin Dowling, Matt Tassone... who should the fans be excited about this season?
Chynoweth: You're right those players all seem ready to take the next step... the other guy for me is Geordie Wudrick. I think we've only seen the tip of the iceberg with him. I think he's going to play an integral part of our hockey team and is a big powerful forward. He hasn't quite put up the numbers that some would have expected to this point but he's a hard-working, good kid and he's a guy we're going to look to for some production and to provide that element.
JK: As far as leadership goes, with the potential return of Dale Wiese... is the captain's "C" his to lose with the departure of Zack Smith to the pro ranks?
Chynoweth: That has to still play out again. Everybody keeps saying he's back or will be back more than likely... I still don't think that's the case.
I think he's in great shape and had a real strong Rangers development camp. Once he goes back and the Rangers see him I wouldn't be surprised if they try to make room or have to make room for him.
I would take him back obviously with open arms. I think he's made humongous strides from the day we got him to where he is today and that's very rewarding. To have him back would be great but we're in the business of developing players and if he moves on that's great for him.