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The Vancouver Canucks prospect camp starts today at UBC Thunderbird arena, albeit with a smaller group of prospects (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun):

In previous seasons, every living, breathing player not on the National Hockey League roster was expected to show up to skate, shoot and fight. All the top minor leaguers were present. It was a useful exercise in gauging the organization’s depth below the NHL level.

If you showed well in prospects camp, you were better received at main camp. Stink it up and you were re-assigned before getting a chance to tell the Sedin twins apart.

This season, however, it is a true rookie camp. Players with minimal pro experience, no pro experience and those still in junior will comprise the 23-man roster.

It’s interesting because instead of being compared against everyone they could be competing for an NHL job for, they’re going to be compared only against players, who, theoretically, are at the same stage of development.

That said, there’s good hype about some of the prospects already (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province). Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson, the Canucks’ top draft picks in 2006 and 2008 respectively, are expected to not only make it through to the main camp, but also to challenge for a spot on the big team. Though at this point, I’m not sure if that’s a testament of how good Grabner and Hodgson are or how much Mike Gillis needs Mats Sundin to sign.

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