Prospects fueled by their NHL stints

Saturday, 05.07.2014 / 4:03 PM
Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)

CALGARY, AB -- They may have only had a cup of coffee with the Flames in 2013-14 but a taste of the NHL was extremely beneficial for several Calgary prospects.

"It gives you a sense of what a player needs to do to succeed at that level," Bryce Van Brabant told CalgaryFlames.com.

"It opens your eyes. You see how hard guys work, day-in and day-out."

Van Brabant signed a two-year entry-level contract on Mar. 29 after his junior season at Quinnipiac came to a close. He got into six games with the Flames, picking up two penalty minutes and putting four shots on net.

"It was awesome," was how he described his NHL experience. "You see the difference in the game; guys are bigger, faster, smarter. You have to make necessary adjustments and that’s the biggest thing."

In order to prepare for his first full pro season, Van Brabant has enlisted the services of former NHLer Gary Roberts. He will head back to Toronto after development camp to continue on with Roberts' regimen.

"He's taken care of me this summer so that's been awesome. That's been the biggest change for me, in terms of off-season training.

"You have to be physically ready so that you can endure the full 82-game season."

Boston College alumnus Bill Arnold was with the Flames for just a few days last year, jumping into the last game of the season in Vancouver. But that small stint has been very advantageous for the forward as he prepares for the 2014-15 campaign.

"It definitely makes you hungry, getting a little taste like that," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "It was only three or four days away from Boston but being able to see how big and how fast everyone is, it helps you prepare.

"You see how hard you'll have to work in the off-season to get to that level, to get better. I think the four days was a great experience, it was a dream come true, but that was only the beginning."

Arnold was able to make his debut with his Boston College teammate, Johnny Gaudreau. The winger also signed his entry-level contract in April and scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in Vancouver.

"It was good for me to get that first game out of the way," Gaudreau said during his exit interview. "I [know] what to expect for next season.

"I think it’s going to help me for training camp next year to come in and realize a chance to play in an NHL game, it’s going to help me."

Winger Kenny Agostino inked a two-year entry-level contract with Calgary on Mar. 7 and suited up for eight games over his month in Calgary.

He potted his first NHL goal on Apr. 4 against the Florida Panthers and ended up with two points during his time with the Flames.

"The last month I spent in the NHL was great, with the experience and knowledge that I gained," Agostino explained. "The first four games were a little bit shaky but the last four games, I think I really improved. I felt confident and comfortable when I was making plays."

The time he spent in Calgary opened his eyes to how fit everyday NHLers are and the work that is needed to reach that kind of conditioning.

"Coach Hartley addressed it last night," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "Whatever guys think they need to do to train, times that by ten and that's what you need to do to be ready to play in an NHL lineup.

"I'm training at Prentiss Hockey in Connecticut and a lot of NHLers train there. Seeing them around the weight room is enough motivation."

Agostino has also made adjustments to his diet in preparation for his first full professional season.

"This is the most I've ever focused on my diet, credit goes to Prentiss because they're big on that in addition to the fitness aspect.

"I think I'm going to come into training camp in the best shape of my life."

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