Handful of 16s keeping themselves in picture

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

One spot is reserved for Mark Pysyk.

He was, after all, the first pick in the WHL Bantam draft two years ago and is living up to the billing.

But the rest are up for grabs to any 16 year old deemed worthy of playing at the WHL level. And so far there seem to be a lot of them.

"They have played well," said Oil Kings GM Bob Green. "We expected some of them to dominate at rookie camp - which they did. Now they jumped right into main camp with the older guys and played well.

"They know they are all pushing for maybe a couple of spots. They've all played hard."

An average a team will carry a couple of 16 year olds on their roster in order to develop them towards the future.

As a marquee player, Pyksyk doesn't necessarily fall into that category.

However, there are a number of other 16 year olds in camp making a good case to stay.

"It's tough because there are a lot of older players here at camp," said T.J. Foster, who has been playing with a cast on his right hand. "I'm not looking at is a competition with the other 16 year olds to make the team.

"Instead I'm looking at the overall picture because you can take a spot away from a 20 year old or an 18 year old. You're fighting with everyone on the ice."

The Oil Kings have not settled on a set number of 16 year olds for this year's team. However they did have 11 of them taking part in the intrasquad game on Wednesday.

A good number of those will get a long look at this weekend's preseason tournament as they have cut their roster down to 37 heading into the weekend.

"I love playing with the older guys," said defenceman Kieran Friesen.

"The challenge is always fun and I hope I get to stick around a little bit."

NOTES: The battle for the three overage spots has been reduced by one as forward JP Szaszkiewicz has decided to play with the University of Alberta Golden Bears. That leaves Brandon Lockerby, Brenden Dowd, Cameron Cepek and Jeff Lee as the team's 20-year-old players.


Videos

Photos