For starters, the Barons have replaced the former Sudbury Cubs franchise in the NOJHL, with local businessman Mike Mooney purchasing the club from Bill Scott.
More importantly, at least in terms of the on-ice product, the team returns only five veterans from their 2012-2013 squad, meaning plenty of new names and faces for local fans to become acquainted with.
The good news is that there should certainly be a familiarity there for people who follow the local hockey scene, with the team well committed to providing a place for Sudbury and area prospects to further their junior hockey careers.
“I think we're going to have a good mixture of age,” head coach Dave Clancy said following the Barons' first tryout session Aug. 20 evening in Walden.
“We're going to be a younger club, but we are going to have a few 20-year-olds, a few 19-year-olds. To me, if you're a 17-year-old, you have to be able to play in the league.”
The types of 17-year-olds the team is looking for are guys who are close to being junior A calibre and just need some help to make that extra step, he added.
Clancy confirmed Aug. 20 that Sudbury expected to have Sebastien Leroux, André Comtois, Scott Sirkka, Darcy Haines, Brett Dusick, August Jarecki and Alexander Laino all signed to NOJHL cards within a day or two.
There was some chatter that Nickel Capital Wolves' forwards Josh Moore and Michael Laidley might also be signed right out of the gate; however, neither were in camp on opening night, still examining the options before them.
“I understand that they are going to a couple of camps before maybe coming here,” Clancy said. “We hope that they may still come in and have a look at us.”
Moore was a 15th-round selection of the Mississauga Ice Dogs in 2011 while Laidley has earned an invitation to the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds training camp later this month.
While it has long been acknowledged that the lure of the south can be difficult to combat for northern junior teams, Clancy pulls no punches in outlining, what he feels, is a very fair approach.
“Players have to make a decision about what is best for themselves,” Clancy said. “If they feel that by going down south, they can further their career a little easier, then by all means, that's what they should do.
“If they feel that being at home is a more comfortable situation for them, then by all means, stay at home. They have to weigh that out themselves,” he added. “I've seen it work well both ways.”
The Sudbury Nickel Barons open exhibition play this coming Monday evening, welcoming the Elliot Lake Bobcats to the McLelland Arena for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Regular season play kicks off just over a week later as the Blind River Beavers provide the opposition on Sept. 5.
In league news, the Beavers have traded local defenceman Shane Snow to the Kemptville 73's of the Central Junior Hockey League. The 73's have also signed former Nickel Capital Wolves' blueliner Ben St Marseille to their squad.