It's been years since Everett had a 15-year-old forward at training camp with Mappin's offensive gifts. But Mappin is creating the type of excitement at Silvertips training camp that is long overdue.
"He's been OK, hasn't he?" an understated Everett coach Mark Ferner said after Mappin scored four goals Thursday during the first day of scrimmages. "I know we have a pretty special player in him."
There's a reason why Everett hasn't had an elite 15-year-old scoring forward in camp in some time. The Tips haven't used a first-round bantam draft pick on a forward since selecting Kellan Tochkin 13th overall in 2006. Since then, Everett used its first-round picks on three defensemen and a goaltender before taking Mappin.
And Mappin wasn't originally part of Everett's plan, either. The Tips had the seventh-overall pick in this year's bantam draft and were ready to deal it away. But the plan changed when Mappin was still on the board.
"We were very happy he was sitting there when we had our selection," Everett general manager Doug Soetaert said. "We were looking possibly to move back a couple spots. When he was there we canceled that. You don't pass up a player like that."
Mappin himself was surprised to hear he was selected by the Tips.
"Everett really didn't talk to me at all during the season, so once they picked me it was kind of a surprise because I hadn't heard anything from them," he said.
But Mappin has showed during training camp why the Tips changed course. The 5-foot-11, 163-pound native of Big Valley, Alberta, was one of the standouts of scrimmages. After taking one period to settle in, he started scoring and creating goals while playing against his fellow rookies. He was quickly moved into a situation where he was playing against some older players and he continued to produce.
"It's been a good experience," Mappin said about his first WHL training camp. "I've gotten to play with some of the veterans already, and I guess I haven't been too bad. My first two games I got a couple goals, so it's going pretty good."
Indeed, Mappin managed to impress one of the veterans who's been his teammate throughout camp.
"I thought he's been outstanding," Silvertips captain Ryan Murray said. "He's put the puck in the net, he's a very smart player. He's already a target out there, the other teams are trying to hit him already, and that's a great thing. I've seen some great things out of him so far."
One has to go back a long way to find a 15-year-old forward who drew similar praise at an Everett training camp -- perhaps all the way back to the Tips' very first training camp, held in Strathmore, Alberta, in 2003. There, a 15-year-old named Zach Hamill created a buzz. Hamill went on to lead the WHL in scoring in 2006-07.
"He's right up there with the (Peter) Muellers and Hamills in that kind of skill set and that kind of ability," Soetaert said of Mappin.
But Mappin's been more than just an offensive wonder. Mappin's showed a complete game. He's taken his defensive responsibilities seriously, despite the unstructured nature of the scrimmages. And though still slight of frame, he's displayed a willingness to finish his checks.
As a 15-year-old, Mappin is too young to make the team this year -- he can be called up to appear in a maximum of five games before his midget season ends. But it won't be long before Mappin is a fixture in Everett.
"He has the potential to be a very high-end hockey player in the future," Soetaert said. "We like what we see. He makes plays happen, he competes, he's got an edge to him. He's everything we saw this winter. He's an exciting young player who we look forward to having in the future."
The Silvertips bid farewell to a pair of veteran wingers Saturday when they reassigned Scott MacDonald and traded Campbell Elynuik.
MacDonald, who spent nearly two seasons with the team, was vying to be one of Everett's three overagers this season. However MacDonald, who had nine goals and 13 assists in 69 games last season, found himself the odd-man out.
Reassigning MacDonald left Everett with three overagers in camp: defenseman Brennan Yadlowski and forwards Tyler Maxwell and Josh Birkholz. There's also an outside chance center Landon Ferraro could be sent back by the NHL's Detroit Red Wings.
Elynuik, who's entering his 19-year-old season, played two seasons in Everett. Last season he had three goals, two assists and 54 penalty minutes as injuries limited him to 28 games. Nevertheless, Elynuik received an invitation to attend rookie camp with the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers.
Soetaert said he made the deal because with Everett planning on going younger this season, Elynuik wouldn't receive the type of ice time he needed.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter @NickHPatterson.
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