The National Hockey League is opening its strangest and latest regular season training camp in hockey history (minus the lockout years) this week.
As teams hit the ice, a number of local and former North Bay Battalion players are also hoping to crack NHL lineups this season.
North Bay's Colton Point has a big opportunity in Dallas. With veteran netminder Ben Bishop out long term recovering from hip surgery and now starter Anton Khudobin not at camp yet due to immigration and quarantine issues, the North Bay native is one of only three goaltenders at Stars training camp.
The Stars will keep three goalies on the expanded rosters when the season starts January 12.
"I'm just looking for the opportunity going in there and showing what I have and give them a reason to give me a new contract and making strides toward my potential NHL career so I am excited for what the season holds," Point told BayToday from a hotel room in Dallas in late December.
Meantime, former Battalion superstar Justin Brazeau was among the 40 players and 23 forwards participating in Toronto Maple Leafs camp. The New Liskeard product netted 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points in 57 games with the ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers. He played one game with no points for the AHL's Toronto Marlies last season.
Brazeau talked about his opportunity with the Leafs on a Frontline Podcast hosted by Kortney Kenney and Tom Parisi in November.
"What they told me is they think very highly of me," Brazeau said on Frontline.
"I’m going to play in the AHL either way, whether it’s on this deal or an NHL deal. You’re in the exact same spot with the exact same development staff doing the exact same thing, and if over these two years I prove I’m worth an NHL deal, then I can sign that and do the same thing. The deal wasn’t so much it was an AHL or NHL, they told me they would give me all the resources if I wanted to come down and train in the summer and during the year have all that available to me. They were the ideal spot for me with the summer training and everything available for me."
Meantime another former Battalion star is hoping to make an impact at Arizona Coyotes camp. Defenceman Cam Dineen is one of 15 defencemen invited to the Coyotes main camp which started on Monday. The New Jersey product is coming off a five-goal and 14-point campaign with the Coyotes AHL affiliate in Tuscon last season.
Brandon Coe, the 2020 fourth round selection with the San Jose Sharks in the October NHL Entry Draft, was not invited to the Sharks training camp which is taking place in Arizona due to COVID-19 restrictions in northern California.
The three players with a North Bay connection are hoping to join former Battalion stars Barclay Goodrow, (Tampa) Michael Amadio (LA) and Nick Paul (Ottawa) on their respective NHL rosters.