Saskatoon, SK – The Saskatoon Blades will be missing two key blue liners for the foreseeable future as Libor Hájek and Evan Fiala head South to the United States to take part in upcoming NHL Main Camps during the month of September to showcase their skills.
Defensemen Libor Hájek was slated to do battle representing the Tampa Bay Lightning against rookies from the Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals at a Prospects Tournament hosted at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida. However, as of September 6, the Prospects Tournament has been cancelled due to the proximity of Hurricane Irma. Hájek departed from Saskatoon early on Wednesday morning and will now report to the Lightning in Nashville where each team’s rookies will square off from September 9 through 12.
After the conclusion of Tampa Bay’s rookie series against the Nashville Predators, Hájek will take part in the Lightning’s regular Main Camp taking place on a later date in September. As he is 19 years old and was drafted out of the WHL, Hájek will need to return to the Saskatoon Blades if he is unable to capture a spot on Tampa Bay’s NHL roster. He has previously attended the Lightning’s 2016 Main Camp as well as their 2017 Development Camp after being drafted by the club in the 2nd round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Hájek signed a 3 year entry-level contract with Tampa Bay at the conclusion of the 2016-17 WHL season.
Meanwhile, 20 year old defensemen Evan Fiala will be attending the Detroit Red Wings’ Main Camp, earning an invite after making a good impression at their Development Camp back in July. The Red Wings’ Main camp will take place at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan from September 15-18. There, Fiala will participate alongside listed Red Wings players, prospects and other tryout invitees in a series of daily on-ice practices and scrimmages.
When asked about the experience earlier in the year and his one in front of him, Fiala was both honest and modest. “When I was at Development Camp in July I felt really good and had a good sense it went well.” Explained Fiala, grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of training alongside players such as Henrik Zetterberg and former Blades defensemen Mike Green. “I didn’t expect anything from it but when I was asked back I was naturally very excited. Now it’s up to me to make the most of the experience and then come back and deliver with the Blades.”
Undrafted in the NHL and 20 years old, Fiala could find himself playing in the NHL with the Wings or in the AHL with Detroit’s affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins as early as this season if he is able to score an Entry Level Contract with another strong showing at the upcoming Main Camp. Fiala will continue practicing with the Blades for another week before departing for Michigan on September 13.
The Saskatoon Blades open the 2017-18 WHL regular season at home on Friday, September 22nd versus the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7:00pm at SaskTel Centre.