EDMONTON - Mark Pysyk is trying to make the most of a second opportunity.
Having been cut from Canada’s world junior team last year, the Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman will be back vying for a spot on this year’s squad.
That’s, if he doesn’t stick with the Buffalo Sabres.
“Every camp you go to you want to play your best and try to make that team,” Pysyk said while attending the national junior development camp going on this week at Rexall Place. “That’s the same situation heading into Buffalo, I’m going to try and make that team and do everything I can. If that doesn’t work out I’ll have a chance to crack this lineup.”
If Pysyk returns to junior this season, he’ll be considered a favourite to earn one of the spots on Team Canada’s blue-line for this winter’s World Junior Championships.
There is only one defenceman, Erik Gudbranson, back from last year’s squad.
And with part of the tournament being played in Edmonton, Pysyk goes into this week’s evaluation camp knowing he’ll have home ice advantage.
“It’s pretty cool to play here all season, but it’s a little different atmosphere,” said Pysyk. “But instead of trying to get used to new surroundings like I had to last year, I can just go out there and play and enjoy myself a little bit more.
“The second camp I would have been less nervous regardless of where it was, but having it at Rexall Place where we play with the Oil Kings, that makes it a little bit more relaxing for me.”
Dillon Simpson is simply trying to take it all in.
The local product is attending his first Hockey Canada development camp, hoping it will eventually lead to a spot on the world junior team this winter.
“It’s great to see the talent that’s here,” Simpson said. “I don’t get a chance to see a lot of these guys, so it’s good to see where I match up and get an opportunity to put names to faces sort of thing.”
The son of former Edmonton Oilers forward Craig Simpson, Dillon is one of only two players at the development camp currently playing U.S. college hockey.
Simpson went on to play at the University of North Dakota after toiling with the Spruce Grove Saints for two seasons.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the team this year,” Simpson said. “I just want to come here and try to get noticed.
“I know the coaches will pick the best team to give them success come tournament time. If I’m part of that, great, if not, then I understand, there is a lot of talent here and anything can happen.”