Buffalo Sabres prospect Mattias Samuelsson will be part of Team USA at the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase this week in Kamloops, British Columbia.
But every workout and every game have taken on new meaning since he was drafted with the first pick in Round 2, No. 32nd overall pick, at the NHL Entry Day in late June.
"Being drafted has changed my life tremendously," Samuelsson said Sunday after practicing with Team USA. "The day-to-day routine is pretty much stayed the same but now I have a completely different mindset.
"Knowing what the ultimate goal is -- to play for the Sabres -- gives you even more motivation to get better on and off the ice every day."
The weeklong camp includes 11 international competitions among four teams -- Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.
Samuelsson is part of the U.S. White team which opens the tournament Monday with a game against Finland (10 p.m. ET).
His team will play Canada Red on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET). A combined U.S. squad will then meet Sweden on Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. with a live broadcast on the NHL Network. The U.S. meets Finland on Aug. 3 (3 p.m., NHL Network), and finishes against Canada on Aug. 4 (5 p.m., NHL Network).
"The goal for this week is to compete hard to put myself in the best position possible, but more importantly represent the United States in the best way I can," said Samuelsson, who grew up in Voorhees, N.J.
The week serves as an audition for the 42 invited players who are looking for a spot on the U.S. National Team for the IIHF World Junior Championship, scheduled this year for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
"I'm not sure where I fit in," Samuelsson said. "Every player here is a great player and deserves to be here. I am just trying to show the coaching staff why I am here."
Samuelsson, who has played with the U.S. National Team Development Program the last two years, will be a freshman at Western Michigan in the fall and has spent much of his summer in Kalamazoo after taking part in the Sabres development camp. He said he has been taking classes and training to get ready for the season.
With joining the Sabres as the ultimate goal, Samuelsson has taken a keen interest in the organization's offseason moves.
"I like to see what type of moves they make but more as a fan than anything else," he said. "It's great to see them moving in the right direction."
News Sports Reporter Amy Moritz contributed to this report.