Deep on WHL defence

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

A few months ago, Brent Seabrook and Cam Barker were just names to Adrian Aucoin.

The Blackhawks, while wooing the free-agent defenceman, told Aucoin of the two youngsters they saw as key parts of the organization's future.

A couple of weeks into training camp and Aucoin is singing their praises, too.

"I hadn't even heard of them," admitted Aucoin, who was lured from the New York Islanders. "They're ahead of their years. They both have that poise most defencemen take a while to get.

"They're bigger and stronger than most guys I've played with and they're only 20 years old. They both shoot the puck, pass the puck and most importantly are great kids on and off the ice.

"Camp has been short and I've been watching them more than they've been watching me, I'm sure of it," he added. "The first exhibition game, they were our two best defencemen, hands down."

Here's the scary part for the other NHL teams: Seabrook, a graduate of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is in his first year as a pro while Barker is still young enough he must go back to the Medicine Hat Tigers if he can't crack the Blackhawks lineup.

Chicago head coach Trent Yawney said the young duo is part of a group with Duncan Keith vying for the final two spots.

"They've made some great strides, both of them," said Yawney. "The one thing with young defencemen is making sure you can warrant him the minutes he needs to develop at the rate you want them to develop.

"We feel, at least I do, it doesn't really matter what age you are. If you can do the job, I'm not against having a young guy."


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