CALGARY, AB -- While many players at development camp are getting their first introduction to the Calgary Flames, Brad Treliving is getting his first introduction to many players, too.
And while the Calgary general manager was quick to caution the calendar reads July 5th, it’s still good to get a first-hand look at what he’s working with.
“I always sort of take a pause here,” Treliving said. “This is summer hockey. We’re in the first part of July. I think you’ve always got to be cautious with it but it’s always nice to see the guys, especially the newer guys and for me, getting to see a lot of the players that maybe I wasn’t as familiar with.
“It was a good first day. You always have to keep in mind this is July 5th and we’re a long way from training camp and all those types of things (but) I thought it was a good first day.”
Though players congregated for fitness testing Friday, Saturday marked the first on-ice action for the assembled group of 23 Flames prospects and another 18 by way of invite.
Getting back to work was more than greeted by Keegan Kanzig, whose Group ‘A’ participated in the first on-ice session of camp.
“It was exciting going into it; it’s the first real full practice session,” Kanzig said. “We’ll be getting into games, too. It’s exciting to get back into a full practice. I have been skating but it’s been smaller groups. Everybody is here watching. You’ve got the coaches and GM’s and all the hockey staff here. There’s that added little pressure to perform well even though it is just development camp.
“You’re constantly being evaluated. I will say there’s a little bit of nerves involved but it’s overweighted with excitement.”
Nerves weren't a factor for Sam Bennett.
Instead, the skate was a welcomed opportunity to hit the ice with the Flames logo on his chest for the first time.
“It was really cool,” he said. “The pace was pretty fast out there. I think most of the guys haven’t been on the ice too much yet. The first skate is always going to me the hardest and most tiring. I didn’t really feel too nervous out there. My hands weren’t quite on point sometimes but I didn’t feel too nervous.
“First impression, though, I had a lot of fun. It was good.”
BENNETT, GAUDREAU CONNECT
Day One featured the first impression between Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau, too.
“They’re skilled players,” Treliving said. “I know there was a lot of ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhhing’ with Johnny up there, but again, this time of year there’s such a variance with these players. Some haven’t been on the ice for a while. I don’t care who they are. They’re all scared to death today. It’s the first day. You’ve got everybody watching them.
“You have to keep everything in context, but we’re exciting to have both those players. I think you see a little glimpse of our future.”
The duo, together in Group ‘B’, was well aware of each other heading into the camp.
Gaudreau, 20, serves as the reigning Hobey Baker winner as college hockey’s top player after recording 36 goals and 80 points in just 40 games for Boston College. He signed with the Flames in April and scored his first NHL goal in his debut. He also represented the United States at the IIHF World Championship in May and is up for an ESPY as the Best Male College Athlete.
“He is an impressive player out there,” Bennett said. “All he did was impress me. His skill is unbelievable. He’s a great player and I hope I get to play with him.”
The 18-year-old is no slouch, either.
Bennett, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, was Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater all season long and collected 36 goals and 91 points in 57 games for the Kingston Frontenacs.
“Just a great player,” Gaudreau said of Bennett. “I’ve heard a lot of great things. I’m excited to get the chance to play with him and meet him and spend the week with him and all the guys.
“It’s going to be a fun week.”
PROSPECTS NURSING ‘NICKS AND BUMPS’
The Flames were short a few faces as the on-ice portion of development camp kicked off Saturday.
“We’ve got a few guys, which as this time of the year guys have some nicks and bumps and bruises,” Treliving said. “We just wanted to get our people looking at it and just spending the next couple of days rehabbing and whatnot.”
Gillies and Jankowski, teammates with Providence College, have similar hip issues while Ollas Mattsson is nursing a foot injury that plagued him leading into the draft. Poirier is still recovering from shoulder surgery following the end of his season, too.
Pat Sieloff, who lost the majority of the 2013-14 season to a staph infection, has also been reeled in.
“I think we all know the season he’s been through and the good news is he’s progressed so well over the course of the last little bit,” Treliving said. “The next progression for him was to get out and skate and be involved. He’ll participate that way. To me, I didn’t want him getting involved in any contact.
“There’s no reason to be having any setbacks on July 5th when he’s taken a lot of steps. He’ll be out here participating but won’t participate in any contact.”
Development camp continues Sunday when Group ‘B’ hits the ice at 10 AM at WinSport Arena. Group ‘A’ will skate at 2 PM.
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