Syvret may get camp nod

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

BARRIE -- Danny Syvret is in select company.

The London Knights captain is one of only two OHL defencemen considered for the Canadian junior team's selection camp next month in Winnipeg, Team Canada assistant coach Peter DeBoer said yesterday.

The other blue-liner is former Knight Kyle Quincey, traded to Mississauga last season in the deal that brought Rob Schremp to London.

Syvret, who played for Team OHL last night against the Russia Selects, has a friend in high places. DeBoer, coach and GM of the Kitchener Rangers, said the Knights veteran is on his wish-list.

"When we're short-listing defencemen from the OHL, Syvret and Quincey lead that pack and they're the only two from the OHL we're considering," DeBoer said.

"What's attractive about Danny is he's a great utility player. He can do just about anything. He can jump in on the power play, and I've seen him shut down the best players in our league.

"His versatility makes him a real attractive candidate."

Hockey Canada will announce its selection camp roster on Dec. 6. It's expected 28 players will be named, with 22 making the cut for the world championship Dec. 25 to Jan. 4 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Knights forwards Corey Perry, Dylan Hunter and David Bolland also played last night and all four will be in the lineup again Monday when the OHL plays the Russians in Mississauga.

The six-game series against Canadian Hockey League opposition is part of Hockey Canada's evaluation process.

DeBoer said he has a thing for the 19-year-old Syvret "because I'm a little partial to smart hockey players and he's as smart a defenceman as there is in the league."

DeBoer said he, Team Canada head coach Brent Sutter, who coaches Red Deer in the Western league, and assistant coach Jim Hulton, coach of the Kingston Frontenacs, all have some say when it comes to the invitations to camp. "We have input with Blair (Mackasey, head scout), but obviously it's his say in the end because he's the only guy that can do cross-country (scouting)."

If Syvret is invited, DeBoer said he shouldn't change his game once he's there.

"Brent Sutter is a very smart hockey man and he can fully appreciate what he does well. He's gotten better and better every year. That group of defence as rookies (the 2002-03 season) -- Syvret, Marc Methot and Quincey -- played well and had regular shifts."

Syvret, not drafted by the NHL, attended Team Canada's summer camp in Calgary and said even then the competition was intense.

It's expected Canada will ice 13 returnees, four on defence.

"I just have to play consistent," he said of what it will take. "Be good in your own end and make the good first pass out of your own zone."

That's where Syvret enjoys the international rules -- including no centre red line for passing -- which are being used in this series.

"It's good with no centre line. You have more options. You don't have to gain the blue-line to make a stretch pass (to a player over centre). You can even make it from your goal line."

Syvret said it's nice to have DeBoer in his corner. In fact, DeBoer has liked Syvret since his draft year, 2001, when DeBoer was coach and general manager of the Plymouth Whalers.

"We almost drafted him," DeBoer said, recalling Syvret had indicated a preference for a U.S. college scholarship.

That was the year the OHL began conducting its draft on the Internet, instead of in a public forum in an arena.

The date was also moved up a month to early May and Syvret was at a hockey camp that weekend.

"I got home and the phone showed we'd missed 10 calls, but nobody left a message," he said.

With Syvret being "high on the NCAA" and teams knowing that, they had likely phoned to see if he changed his mind.

The only team willing to take a chance was the Knights, selecting the then 15-year-old in the fifth round.

"I was being honest and after getting drafted by London, I still didn't know what I was going to do until I signed and played with the Knights as an under-ager," said Syvret, who played one game with London in the 2001-02 season while in junior B with Cambridge.

Knights general manager Mark Hunter said although Syvret was leaning toward school, "I think he saw we had a good program and we didn't have a lot of D.

"He's been super for our program and what really bothers me is he's been unrecognized by the NHL. I don't understand it. There's a reason he's plus-31 (best in the league) and got 29 points (best among defencemen)."

Syvret, in his third full OHL season, could finally get that recognition -- on a world stage.


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