Much of the media attention today was centered on Jeff Skinner and Jared Staal and their experiences on the first day of the Canes' prospect conditioning camp, and that's understandable. Skinner is the team's first-round draft pick and Staal the youngest brother of Canes captain Eric Staal.
But Riley Nash is an intriguing player. He's the player the Edmonton Oilers drafted but couldn't sign. He's the player the Canes' Ron Francis wanted. He's 21, having played three college seasons at Cornell. He's also a center.
The Canes obtained Nash on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft, giving up a second-round pick. And he said Wednesday that he will decide after this week's conditioning camp whether to return to Cornell for his senior year or sign a pro contract.
"I'm not going to leave everyone hanging around too long," Nash said. "I'm hoping to have enough information and be wise enough after this camp to make an educated decision. That's what I've been taught my whole life, so why not stick to that?"
The Canes are in need of a playmaking center. That's what the Oilers believed they were getting when they made Nash their first-round pick -- 21st overall -- in the 2007 draft, but could not get Nash signed to an entry-level contract.
"I just felt I had better opportunities elsewhere," he said. "I knew I'd have a tough time making (the Oilers roster) with all the transition they were going through. It just didn't feel right to me.
"Hopefully they're happy with what they got, and I'm happy with what happened for myself."
Francis was closely watching today at the RecZone as the prospects worked out on the ice, and had plenty of help. Assisting him were Rod Brind'Amour, Glen Wesley, Tom Barrasso and Jeff Daniels.
On Nash's pending decision, Francis smiled and said, "If he's smart enough to go to an Ivy League school, he's smart enough to figure that out. I think he knows where I'm hoping he'll decide.
"I've seen him play for a while and I really like his talent and I'm getting to know him more as a person here. In talking to his (college) coach, great kid on and off the ice and great teammate. The games I've seen him play, he's done some pretty special things."