Slater Koekkoek has been named as an injury replacement for Team Canada’s entry at August’s U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, Hockey Canada announced on Monday.
Koekkoek (pronounced “Koo Koo,”) will replace New York Islanders prospect Adam Pelech, who is injured.
The development is a big one for the 19-year-old Koekkoek, one of the eight defensemen selected within the first 10 picks of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Koekkoek went No. 10 overall to Tampa Bay in a class that featured fellow Team Canada invitees Griffin Reinhart (New York Islanders, No. 4 overall), Morgan Rielly (Toronto, No. 5 overall), Mathew Dumba (Minnesota, No. 7 overall) and Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh, No. 8 overall).
The U.S. NJEC takes place in Lake Placid from Aug. 3-10 and will feature four team — the Americans, Canadians, Finns and Swedes — in what amounts to the biggest showcase of junior-age talent prior to the 2014 World Juniors, which get started on Dec. 26 from Malmo, Sweden.
In March, the Bolts signed Koekkoek to a three-year entry-level contract. He faces an uphill battle in making the Tampa Bay roster this season as the club already has six solid defensemen under contract — Matt Carle, Victor Hedman, Eric Brewer, Sami Salo, Radko Gudas and Keith Aulie — with a seventh, former University of Omaha-Nebraska standout Andrej Sustr, in the mix as well.