Hockey scouts are keeping close tabs on competition at rinks during the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse this week, hoping to pick out the country's future NHL stars.
Teams from all 10 provinces and three territories are squaring off for medal spots during the games, which run until March 10.
Former NHL netminder Corey Hirsch, who is now a goaltending consultant with Hockey Canada, arrived in the Yukon capital Monday to watch back-to-back games.
"I am watching goaltenders," Hirsch said. "I will be scouting for our under-18 program here. [I'll] just go around and watch and try and pick the best ones. There's a tournament in the end of August and then we have a world championships in April in Helsinki."
St. Louis Blues scout Barclay Parneta, who is sharing a Whitehorse house with scouts from Chicago and Dallas,says all the 16-year-old players will be eligible for the NHL draft in about 18 months.
"Team Ontario has three kids that will definitely be first-round NHL draft picks," Parneta said. "Team Quebec has another one but you're gonna see a lot of the kids that are here drafted in 2008."
There arescouts representing about 14 NHL teams in the Yukon, along with Quebec major junior teams, and a Western Hockey League general manager.
The Canada Games is hockey at its purest, with players showing intensity and passion for their home provinces and territories, Parneta said.