Three former Trail Smoke Eaters joined 58 former BCHL players at NHL development camps last week.
Late June and early July in the NHL calendar is the time when teams get their first look at their recent draft picks on home ice in the team uniforms and also a chance for undrafted players to show what they can do against the top players in their age bracket.
Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Seth Barton, who was drafted 81st overall in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft, June 22, by the Detroit Red Wings, attended the Wings camp last week. Smoke Eaters forwards Kale Howarth, a 2017 fifth-round pick, skated at the Columbus Blue Jackets camp, and Luke Santerno, a 2017 Smokies graduate, who attends Bentley University, skated with the Winnipeg Jets.
In his rookie season with the Smoke Eaters, Barton was Trail’s third most offensive defenceman with 33 points in 2017-18 and was selected to play for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge and the CJHL Prospects game. The six-foot-three, 18-year-old blue liner will attend the University of Massachusetts-Lowell this year, and says his first development camp was both an exciting and educational experience.
“Coming here, it’s a development camp so I’m trying to get out of it as much as possible,” Barton said in a press conference. “Just the little things like the routines the pros bring to the rink, how you handle yourself in an organization like this, those type of things. You’re out here with some petty incredible coaches and alumni so you learn a lot, so a bit of everything.”
Santerno led the Trail Smoke Eaters in scoring in 2016-17 with 33 goals and 64 points, and made an impression at Bentley where he finished second in scoring in his Freshman year with 12 goals and 30 points. The Smithers native was named to Atlantic Hockey’s All-Rookie Team, and, nationally, at the end of the regular season he was seventh in points per game among freshmen, 0.84.
After being picked in the 2017 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Howarth returned to the Smoke Eaters and led the team in scoring with 24 goals and 62 points last season in just 44 games. He helped Trail defeat the Penticton Vees and make it to the Interior Division finals in April. Howarth made his second trip to the Blue Jackets camp along with 30 of their top prospects, and will play for the University of Connecticut this year.
The 58 former BCHLers include 20 that were drafted this year. There are 25 NHL teams with former BCHLers in camp and 15 BCHL franchises represented.
In addition, there are 12 players at summer camps that spent the 2017-18 season in the BCHL including Howarth and Barton.