Caleb Jones is at the United States' U-20 World Junior Evaluation Camp this summer again. After being at Lake Placid, New York the last couple years, the camp is in Plymouth, Michigan this year. The camp is the first step for USA Hockey in choosing the squad that will represent the U-20s at the World Junior Championships in Montreal and Toronto, beginning December 26th.
Jones was part of the Evaluation Camp last summer and made it past the cuts needed to combine the USA White and USA Blue rosters, but was not invited back in December for the final camp, before the team traveled overseas. He should have a much better shot at making the team as a 19-year-old puck-moving d-man, but will still need a strong camp to help make his argument.
With top d-men like Zach Werenski, Louie Belpedio, Will Borgen, Brandon Carlo and Brandon Fortunato all too old to return and play for the U-20 team, Jones has a great opportunity to not only make the team, but play a big role for the Americans this winter.
This year Canada has joined Finland and Sweden to make it a four (after the USA cuts Tuesday) team exhibition tournament. It should be a fun little primer for the big tournament and give us a chance to preview what the different rosters will look like.
Jones is on USA Blue and their first game will be this afternoon at 1pm PST vs. Finland. Winterhawks' prospect goalie Jake Oettinger will also be on USA blue along with Tri-City Americans' goalie and Black Diamond, WA native Evan Sarthou.
On USA White, meanwhile are Spokane Chief forward Kailer Yamamoto and Portland prospect Kieffer Bellows. Their first game starts at 10am PST today and it is against Sweden. Bellows started on the first line left wing, while Yamamoto was slotted the fourth line right wing. I will be watching as many games as I can of the camp and will try to do a daily recap of how Jones, Portland prospects and Sarthou and Yamamoto performed and what their outlook to make the final roster is.
Suiting up for Finland is 1999 born d-men Henri Jokiharju, who was just selected by Portland in this year's import draft and recently signed. Finland is suiting up almost exclusively a 17-year-old squad for the Evaluation Camp, so that they can take a long look at some of their younger players.