Hockey Canada named its initial roster for the summer camp for their 2011 World Junior Championship, and there's a fimiliar name for Penguins fans, Simon Despres. Despres was team's the first round pick (30th overall) in the 2009 draft, and he enjoyed a successful season playing for St. John's in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Despres will either have to make the NHL next season (a very long shot) or he'll be assigned back to Juniors, and he must play one more season before the team can assign him to the AHL for him to start his professional career. There have been whispers that if Despres shines in training camp, he may play up to ten games at the start of the season in Pittsburgh before being sent back to the Q for the remainder of the season, much like Kris Letang was back in 2006-07 after playing seven games in October 2006.
Canada's roster for this camp features three returning defensemen - Calvin de Haan (NYI), Ryan Ellis (NSH) and Jared Cowen (OTT), and 17 total defensemen were invited to camp. It'll be a crowded field composed of mainly first and second round picks, mostly from the 2009 draft, but a couple of 2010-eligible players - like Erik Gudbranson and Brandon Gormley, two presumptive Top 10 picks for this month's upcoming NHL draft - will report as well.
It may be tough for Despres to stand out in this crowd, but hopefully he'll do well, turn heads and be in contention for a coveted roster spot on Team Canada's World Junior Championship roster.
This could be a very big season for Despres, who may go from just a junior player to a guy getting a small taste of the NHL and playing for his country on the big WJC stage. There are a lot of opportunities for him to take the next step, now let's see if he can do it.