Union College senior goalie and Niskayuna native Colin Stevens is in two NHL prospect development camps. He was in the New York Rangers’ camp last week, and this coming week he will be attending the Florida Panthers’ camp, along with sophomore center Mike Vecchione.
Union, the NCAA champion, will have five players attending prospect development camps over the next few weeks.
Sophomore defenseman and Clifton Park native Jeff Taylor, who was selected in the seventh round of the NHL draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, will be in their camp. Senior left winger Daniel Ciampini is headed to the Vancouver Canucks’ camp, and sophomore center Eli Lichtenwald is going to the Anaheim Ducks’ camp.
But if one of the five Dutchmen decides to sign a contract this year, Bennett may not have the luxury of replacing that player.
“This is a conversation that I have had with personnel of the NHL teams,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “If you’re bringing in our player for a tryout camp, then we don’t want any part of you, and our staff doesn’t want that player going to that team. But if you’re telling me it’s a development camp and you’re bringing him in to see him in a different light and fill them in your program, then that’s another thing.
“But I don’t know when a development camp became a tryout camp. I don’t know when that started. It’s not good for college hockey in the fact that we’re losing guys so late in the summer. I think it needs to change.”
All five Dutchmen are attending the development camps for the first time. Stevens will be the busiest.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Stevens, who won the Ken Dryden Award as the top goalie in ECAC Hockey last season. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity. It’s busy, but I’ll benefit from playing some good hockey and seeing some shooters. It’ll just help me prepare going into next season.”
Stevens is focusing on what he can do to get better. He isn’t going to entertain any offers from the Rangers and Panthers.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Stevens said. “Obviously, I’ll be back at Union for my senior year. That’s my main focus right now, getting ready for next year at Union. These camps will help me prepare and get ready for next year.”