Montreal Canadiens prospect Brady Vail was among 40 Americans announced this morning that will take part in their countries World Junior Championship evaluation camp. The event will take place between August 3rd and August 10th in Lake Placid as the USA prepare to defend their World Junior gold medal.
Vail was picked in the 4th round, 94th overall by the Canadiens at the 2012 NHL draft. The native of Palm City, Florida played the last three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Windsor Spitfires. He has topped 20 goals and 50 points each of the last two seasons with Windsor, but projects to be a two way or shutdown center at the pro level.
The Americans only have one forward returning from the gold medal winning roster of one year ago in Riley Barber. This opens the door for a player like Vail who can be counted on to bring a sound, responsible game and may not be the flashiest player at camp but will be a safe pick.
Vail missed the playoffs this past season with the Spitfires, a team still rebuilding after winning consecutive Memorial Cups in 2009 and 2010 and taking a run at a third title in 2011. The early exit gave him a chance at his first professional experience when he was called up to play the final 12 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs. It would be a valuable learning opportunity for the youngster but unfortunately the young Bulldogs team also missed the postseason.
The World Junior Tournament could provide excellent big game experience for Vail before he will turn pro for good in 2014.
The 2014 World Junior tournament could feature several of the Canadiens top prospects. Charles Hudon, who made the 2013 Canadian team before bowing out due to injury is sure to return. Sebastien Collberg is rumored to be heading to North America next season, but with the tournament in his home country of Sweden, he could very well head back to Europe for a few weeks if he is playing in Hamilton.
It appears their will be several Habs prospects representing their countries during the holidays. It remains to be seen if any of them can lead their country to gold, like Alex Galchenyuk was able to do last year.