Expect to see a thin Kamloops Blazers’ lineup on Friday, when the WHL club plays host to its home- and season-opening game against the Portland Winterhawks, a 7 p.m. start at Sandman Centre.
At least six of eight players Kamloops sent to NHL camps could be unavailable for the contest — 20-year-old Daylan Kuefler (New York Islanders), 19-year-olds Caedan Bankier (Minnesota), Kyle Masters (Minnesota), Logan Stankoven (Dallas) and Matthew Seminoff (Dallas) and 18-year-old Fraser Minten (Toronto).
Goaltender Dylan Ernst, 18, did not receive an invite to the Carolina Hurricanes’ main camp. He is likely to return to the Blazers in time to start on Friday against the Winterhawks.
Overage forward Drew Englot has been toiling at the Colorado Avalanche’s training camp, but his return to Kamloops this week has not been ruled out.
The forwards expected to play on Friday are Emmitt Finnie, Conner Radke, Luke Korte, Connor Levis, Nathan MacPherson-Ridgewell, Dylan Sydor, Ashton Tait, Ashton Ferster and Ethan Rowland.
Kobe Verbicky is suffering from a lower-body injury and is not expected to be in the lineup.
Logan Bairos, Rylan Pearce, Aapo Sarell, Kaden Hammell, Ryan Michael, Harrison Brunicke and Ethan Brandwood are expected to play on defence.
Goaltenders Michael Schnattinger and Jesse Sanche remain with the club and will be available to dress on opening night.
Kamloops is slated to play only once this weekend and will return to action against the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The Blazers have not yet named a leadership group and are not expected to reveal captains until Stankoven returns from Stars’ camp.
Stankoven shared the captaincy last season with Quinn Schmiemann, who has moved on to the pro ranks.