Mancari to make surprise return

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The 67's, already flush with depth and talent, got some more interesting news yesterday.

High-scoring winger Mark Mancari, still unsigned by the Buffalo Sabres, showed up for training camp, which opens this morning at the Civic Centre.

With his status with the Sabres up in the air, Mancari joins forwards Chris Hulit and Julian Talbot, defenceman Nick Van Herpt and goalie Danny Battochio as potential overagers for this season.

The team can only keep three, so 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea could have some interesting options, depending on what happens (Battochio will attend the Chicago Blackhawks' rookie camp and Hulit is off to the Carolina Hurricanes' freshmen camp).

Kilrea could potentially have an asset to dangle to shore up the club's centre position, which right now looks like the club's only thin spot.

"We were under the impression that (Mancari) had signed. That's what people were saying in London (at the Memorial Cup)," Kilrea said yesterday. "But I just got a call from his dad and he said, 'no, he didn't sign,' so he's coming in.

"We're going to have a good team again," said Kilrea. "There's not a lot of 19-year-olds, so basically we'll be a young team. Just because you're 19 doesn't mean you've got lots of experience. We've got a lot of young players who have as much game experience as guys who are 19, especially playoff games, because they've played so many."

The 67's played 25 playoff games last spring in their march to the Memorial Cup.

The 67's will return a potential 15 players from last year's OHL Eastern Conference champions, so this shapes up as one of the most competitive training camps in years.

Throw in the arrival of top pick centre Logan Couture -- the top-rated 1989-born player in the 2005 draft -- and European imports defenceman Jakub Vojta and winger Tibor Radulay and the 67's have an embarrassment of riches.

Not to mention forward Matt Lahey, the club's top pick last year, will be available come November after he completes his recovery from knee surgery (he's recovered from the concussion which sidelined him most of last year).

Kilrea said yesterday Lahey will rejoin the 67's when they return from an exhibition game in Kingston later this month, though he won't be allowed any contact in practice for a month.


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