New Guelph Storm coach and general manager George Burnett is looking to be "wowed."
Despite the fact that 26 of the 46 players who reported on Day 1 of training camp Monday are already under contract, Burnett said there is still a chance for a long shot to make this team.
"I hope to be wowed a little bit," Burnett said as players went through physicals and fitness testing at the Sleeman Centre. Scrimmages start Tuesday at 10 a.m.
"I hope one or two guys step up. I already have a few players I'm expecting to be wowed by, both new players and returning players," Burnett said.
That being said, the numbers don't lie. And to get down to a roster of 22 or 23 players, barring injury, there are going to be players who wore a Storm jersey a year ago that won't be this year.
"Do the math," said Burnett.
"It's my job to find room, make room or find somewhere else for them to play," Burnett said of the numbers, particularly at forward, where 26 players are in camp.
Burnett said he doesn't have to tell certain players that they are fighting for a job.
"They're pretty intelligent, I think they know," he said.
The forward ranks have been reduced by one, with Nic Sicoly, a member of the team the past two years, not in camp.
Burnett said Sicoly was very mature about the situation and the team is trying to find another team for him to join.
"He was extremely mature about it and understood that we had signed a lot of young forwards and we came to an understanding," Burnett said.
Eight players will head to NHL training camps: the seven who are drafted and James McEwan will be attending Montreal's training camp.
The team scrimmages at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Scrimmages are open to the public.
They play exhibition games on the road against Hamilton Friday and Mississauga on Saturday. Monday at 2 p.m. they host Mississauga.
Here's a training camp primer by position:
Barring a trade the starting job appears to be second-year goalie Anthony Popovich's to lose.
In the running for the backup job at this point are signed 2016 seventh round pick Nico Daws and James Walker, the team's top pick in the new under-18 draft.
A pair of 11th round picks, Americans Richard Ledek (2016) and Nicholas Haas (2017), are also in camp.
Including 2017 third round pick Anthony Aguanno, there are eight signed defencemen in camp. A team usually keeps seven.
Aguanno, Quinn Hanna and Levi Tetrault would appear to be battling for the final two spots, behind Garrett McFadden, Mark Shoemaker, Dmitri Samorukov, Ryan Merkley and Owen Lalonde.
The wild card could be the overager Shoemaker, who is off to the San Jose Sharks training camp and could turn pro.
The team is also very high on its other third round pick from last year, Mark Woolley.
To quote George Burnett, "do the math."
The team will likely keep 13 or 14 forwards and currently has 16 signed, even with the departure of Nic Sicoly.
The highly-regarded rookie crop of Tag Bertuzzi, Cam Hillis, Mason Primeau, Keegan Stevenson and Alexei Toropchenko aren't going anywhere, so that means that barring a trade of an older forward, returnees Nick Deakin-Poot, Barret Kirwin, Cedric Ralph and Liam Stevens will be fighting it out for spots.