McLellan said the fans would see many of those borderline rookies when Nelson opens the preseason Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.After Saturday, the Leaf coaching staff will cut the roster to between 25-27 players for the next two exhibition game series against Castlegar Rebels — Tuesday, September 8 in Nelson and Wednesday, September 9 in the Sunflower City.“We’re going to take the best players that are available to us so it’s up to them how they perform,” McLellan explained.McLellan said the defence has been overhauled since Nelson graduated most of the blueline last season — both Darnel St. Pierre and Robson Cramer heading to play for Simon Fraser of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League.Nelson has six defencemen already carded for the season.Up front, Leafs still have some players still attending Junior A camps.However, McLellan expects returning forwards Rayce Miller, Austin Lindsay and Sam Webber to help Nelson start the season on a positive note.“All three of those players are proven commodities in this league and adding Jo Davie we acquired in a trade in May with Victoria will be a big help up front as well,” he said.McLellan has signed one goalie to date with six players trying out for the starting position between the pipes.“We had an experienced 19-year-old who we thought would be with us but just got signed in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League so that position is really up in the air right now,” he said.Nelson opens the regular season September 11 against Kelowna Chiefs in the first of a two-game weekend home stand.The next day, September 12, the Fernie Ghostriders are in town to meet the Leafs at the NDCC Arena.Both games have a 7 p.m. start time. There are always more than a couple of questions at the start of every hockey season in the Heritage City: Will the latest edition of the Nelson Leafs be able to break through to overtake the always tough competition in the Neil Murdoch Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League?There is some encouraging news from Leaf skipper Dave McLellan, especially after the second-year man was able to get a head start on recruiting.“Last year it was really tough coming here August 24th to start with the team but this year we started the process with many of the player at our camp in May . . . some I started taking to as early as February,” said McLellan on the eve of the start of Leafs training camp Wednesday.“Since we had our main camp in May we’ve had more than 100 players came through Nelson from all over North America to try out.”Leafs begin quest for the KIJHL title beginning Wednesday with registration at the NDCC Arena.Thursday, the players, coaches and off-ice personal get down to business with on-ice and dryland training.Later, Thursday, Nelson plays its first exhibition game against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at 7:30 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.“We have most of the team picked, but with that said there are many of the players still at Junior A camps . . .. Many of them are still trying out so basically there is a few spot open available here allowing some players to still battle for spots to make the team.”McLellan has broken training camp into two phases.Phase one, which gives some of the borderline rookies a chance to impress the coaches, concludes Saturday with the second game of the home-and-home series with Beaver Valley.