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Tigers’ Vey Wraps Up Junior Camp As Winger

Courtesy of  John MacNeil  – PA Herald

St. John’s, NL – Linden Vey’s new surroundings at the Canadian junior hockey team’s development camp included a new position.

Vey, a natural centre from Wakaw, SK, was moved to right wing for the four-day camp in St. John’s, N.L.

“I’ve never played wing before, so it was kind of an adjustment,” Vey said Saturday night after the final intrasquad game and just before the prospects met with management for an exit meeting.

“For the first time playing wing, I thought it went pretty good.”

Vey, a Los Angeles Kings’ draft pick entering his fourth season with the Medicine Hat Tigers, knows traditional roles aren’t guaranteed in the competitive Team Canada environment.

“You’re not always going to get to play your position,” he said. “You’ve got to be versatile and be able to play any position.”

Vey’s linemates were juggled during the evaluation camp, which included intrasquad games on the final two nights.

But there was no grey area about his desire to wear the red-and-white jerseys in the world junior championship at Buffalo in late December and early January.

“I think every Canadian’s dream is to one day play for your country,” said Vey, who turned 19 in July. “I guess the possibility that maybe one day I could do that, it’s a pretty special time.”

Earlier this summer, Vey spent three weeks in Los Angeles training with fellow Kings’ prospects. He was back home for just a couple of weeks before reporting to Canada’s camp.

“I think it went well,” he said. “It’s a feeling-out process. It’s a different game when you come here. You’re not in peak shape right now. I haven’t been on the ice a whole lot. But, for the most part, I thought it went pretty well.”

Vey, a fourth-round draft choice of the Kings, lined up alongside first-round NHL picks, including

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Tyler Seguin, whom the Boston Bruins chose second overall this year.

Although he doesn’t carry the same profile as the likes of fellow Kings prospect Brayden Schenn of Saskatoon, Vey brings versatility that puts him in Team Canada contention.

“He’s played very well in Medicine Hat,” said Hockey Canada head scout Al Murray. “For us, (the junior talent pool) is the same group of players that the NHL is looking at, but we’re looking for different things. We’re looking for guys that are ready right now to play and win a short-term competition, and the NHL is looking for who is going to be the best player over the next five to 10 years. So, sometimes we’re looking for something that they’re not exactly looking for.

“And Linden brings a lot of the things that we need. He’s a very good skater, he’s very skilled and he’s competitive. He can also play centre and wing, which gives him an opportunity to keep more options open for himself.”

Along with on-ice sessions in St. John’s, the Canadian prospects went through off-ice fitness testing and tasted a bit of Newfoundland culture.

“It’s a little bit different than Saskatchewan, that’s for sure,” said Vey, who grew up on a farm.

“They took us whale-watching one day. I thought it was pretty good. You get to know all the team a little bit better.”

The juniors won’t know until December who will represent Canadian in the Christmastime tournament.

The scouting staff will chart the progress of the 46 summer-campers, and other prospects, during the first half of the season.

For the CHL players in the mix, the new season begins with training camp later this month.

“I think this is where you’ve got to push even harder,” Vey said. “You’ve only got a couple of more weeks of training before you head to camp, and it’s a time you need to bear down and start getting focused for the season.”

One of Vey’s new Medicine Hat teammates, Minnesota college product Tyler Pitlick, attended the U.S. junior team’s evaluation camp this month in Lake Placid, N.Y., but he wasn’t among the 28 players selected for the second phase of the camp last week. That part included exhibition games against Finland and Sweden.

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