Chasing the dream

Red Deer Rebels sniper Landon Ferraro will arrive in Traverse City, Mich., today, still wondering if he has enough luggage.

Landon Ferraro

Red Deer Rebels sniper Landon Ferraro will arrive in Traverse City, Mich., today, still wondering if he has enough luggage.

“I’m really excited, I’ve obviously never been to a pro camp before,” Ferraro said on Thursday, looking ahead to his participation in the Detroit Red Wings rookie camp.

“As I’m packing today I’m nervous that I might not be bringing enough stuff.

“Basically, I was just trying to get everything organized and I’m excited about getting there and starting camp.”

Ferraro, selected by the Red Wings early in the second round of the NHL entry draft in June, will be accompanied to Detroit’s rookie camp by Rebels teammate Willie Coetzee, who was passed over in the draft but accepted a camp invitation from the Wings.

The Detroit campers will compete in a tournament starting on Sunday against the Atlanta Thrashers prospects and including the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes freshmen squads. After that, Ferraro is ticketed to attend the Red Wings main camp.

“That’s what I’ve been told,” he said. “When I was talking to (Wings GM) Ken Holland at the draft he said I’d play in the (main camp) Red and White game before coming back to Red Deer. “They put (Pavel) Datsyuk on one team and (Henrik) Zetterberg on the other so that’s kind of got me smiling. It’s a little weird to think that I’ll be on the same ice as both of them and be on one of their teams.”

Ferraro suffered a shoulder injury while competing for Team Canada at the world under-18 championship in April and spent the summer rehabilitating the joint.

“I concentrated on getting healthy and the shoulder is feeling good,” he said. “Towards the end of the summer I got into full workouts and was able to lift things over my head, which I wasn’t able to do for a few months.

“I haven’t had any trouble with the shoulder through training camp. It gets sore now and then and I’ve been told that it will be like that for a while, but it’s nothing that will effect my play.”

The 18-year-old is fully aware that he won’t be playing pro hockey until he’s both physically and mentally ready. He knows he’ll be back with the Rebels for the upcoming Western Hockey League season.

“It’s going to work out well for me,” said Ferraro. “The Red Wings don’t rush players. They take their time and develop them and I’m going to need some development time. I obviously have to get a lot stronger and just more mature as a player.”

Ferraro, providing he stays healthy, has the potential to pot between 40 and 50 goals this season. Coetzee brings speed and a big-time shot, while Nathan Green, Cass Mappin and newcomers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and John Persson round out what should be an effective top-six group of forwards.

“Our top two lines and top four defencemen are going to be really strong,” said Ferraro. “We’ll have two of the best lines in our conference with a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net, and after that there’s a lot of depth up front. It’s going to be hard to get back into the lineup if you ever lose your spot, and having that kind of depth is always a nice problem to have.

“We have some new defencemen coming and we have (goaltender Darcy) Kuemper back so it’s shaping up to be a good season. I’m excited to go to pro camp and see what that’s about, but I’m also excited about getting back here and getting the season started.”

Kuemper and Mappin left for NHL rookie camps on Thursday, with the 19-goalie off to Minnesota and the forward en route to Columbus. Defenceman Justin Weller will depart for the Phoenix Coyotes rookie camp on Saturday.

• The Rebels reassigned 16-year-old forward Chad Robinson to the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League on Thursday, leaving the club with a roster of 29 players heading into tonight’s preseason meeting with the Edmonton Oil Kings at 7:30 p.m. in Stettler.

The Rebels’ star pupil, highly-touted 16-year-old forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, will make his preseason debut tonight.

The Rebels and Oil Kings will meet again Saturday night at Leduc.

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