To the casual observer, the Calgary Hitmen might look like a WHL powerhouse.
Unfortunately, the top-five guys on the ice yesterday won't be here when the regular season kicks off later this month.
Former Hitmen Mark Rooneem (Minnessota Wild), Mike Egener (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Shaun Landolt (Toronto Maple Leafs) have been skating with the team in preparation for their NHL camps.
Same with Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Mighty Ducks) and Andrew Ladd, who has yet to sign a deal with Carolina. Both could both play in the WHL as overagers although no one is expecting to see them back.
Getzlaf will certainly be playing pro hockey this season. He likely would have cracked the Ducks' lineup a year ago had there not been a lockout.
And he has only one goal this season: Playing in The Show.
"I'm going there with that attitude," said Getzlaf, who leaves for pro camp Sunday.
"I want to be on that team this year. I'm not going there to see if I can make it.
"I have to go there and make it.
"I'm not planning on seeing the AHL this year. If that happens, then it happens. But right now I'm going in with the attitude of playing in Anaheim."
Decked out in his new purple duds, Getzlaf got an up-close look at the young Hitmen roster yesterday.
Who he'll pass the scoring torch to is anyone's guess but he said there should be enough offence on the club to get the job done.
"There's a lot of talent out here but there's a few 17-year-olds who are going to have some big shoes to fill," he said.
"I don't think they have to be an incredibly good offensive team this year.
"They're not going to have to score five goals to win a game. They've got Pogge in net and everyone knows what he did for us last year. And the D can reach the width of the rink.
"So it'll be a bit of a different look. The forwards are going to have to skate and work hard every night."
The Hitmen are not only bidding adieu to their top scorer but also their captain. Although, the second commodity is easier to replace.
"I don't think that'll be an issue," Getzlaf said. "There were a lot of leaders on our team last year. It wasn't like I ran the whole team. Yac (Darryl Yacboski) will probably be the captain.
"Hopefully he can take over this team and take them to where they need to go. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised at what this team does this year."
ICE CHIPS: The Washington Capitals signed Hitmen D Jeff Schultz, picked 27th overall in the 2004 draft, to a three-year contract ... In addition to imports C Lukas Vantuch and RW Fredrik Pettersson, the Hitmen have 11 other new faces still in camp. Three of them aren't entirely new as blueliners Alex Plante and Justin Falk as well as C Brett Sonne saw limited time as call-ups last season. Other newcomers hoping to crack the roster are D/F Curtis Kelner, and forwards Ryan Letts, Carson McMillan, Cole Lillies, Cam Lilley, Dylan Bellmore, Ryan Costanzo and Jon Lawrence.