CALGARY, AB -- The pace at Calgary Flames development camp picked up Sunday with skills coaches putting each on-ice session through some high-tempo drills.
For general manager Brad Treliving, it’s all about giving the prospects the experience of what the daily grind for an NHL player is like.
“That was a tough day,” Treliving said after day three concluded. “When we put together the plan, today, it was a day -- knowing it's July -- giving them a taste of what an NHL practice is like. So they have a barometer when they get into the summer and the last couple of months training and when they come into training camp.
“It was a good day. A lot of movement, a lot of skating. It was a work day for sure.”
Treliving was also quick to deliver praise to the group, most of whom are in excellent condition and already train all throughout the summer.
“I think -- a general comment is -- everybody is coming in really good condition, which isn't really a shock. In today's game these kids -- each year, even going back to the combine -- the kids that are not in good condition are the ones that stand out.
“For the most part everybody is just working hard. I like the work ethic of the group and overall the conditioning of the group.”
For Brandon Hickey, Calgary's fourth pick (No. 64) in 2014, the quick pace is what stood out for the blueliner after two days of on-ice sessions.
He admitted, though, that he’s settling in as the camp goes on.
“The first session is a little bit of an adjustment with the speed and the skill out there but I think I've been adjusting really well,” Hickey said. “I feel really comfortable out there now.”
The 18-year-old is eager to take the lessons from development camp into his summer and his freshman year at Boston University.
“Everything happens so fast,” he said. “At this level you have to get everything to happen quicker for yourself. I think that's the biggest thing I'm going to take back from here.”
SCRIMMAGE ON TAP
Development camp will once again take another turn Monday when the players will put their knowledge and skill into game action. A full scrimmage with all prospects is slated for 10:00 AM Sunday and presents an opportunity for prospects to showcase what they can do.
Treliving, however, cautions it’s strictly for evaluation and doesn’t want things to get out of hand.
“Again, this is just an orientation camp,” Treliving reiterated. “Anytime you get players on the ice, there is an evaluation going on. The message here is that we don't want any silly stuff going on. We've got training camp and exhibition games and stuff going on but ultimately, you're being evaluated and guys want to show what they can do.
"This is a competitive environment that I like to call a controlled, competitive environment.”
Treliving added the Flames won’t tolerate anything else.
“Tomorrow is not a day to be running guys all over the place,” he said. “I think when you get 40 guys playing in a competitive environment guys are going to play hard but want to be smart about it.”
With a vast mix of size, skill and speed at development camp, Treliving knows he has a wide variety of players in the system. Although overall he’s happy with what he’s seen, he knows there are still plenty of holes to fill.
“There's a little bit of everything,” Treliving said. “Looking at it the last few weeks, we've got some good young goaltenders in the organization, we've got some good young defencemen and I think that's a scenario we want to continue to add to in terms of depth and the number of them.
“There's some really interesting kids up front, they come in all different shapes and sizes.”
The mandate Flames management pledged months ago – to get bigger and stronger – still remains. However, Treliving knows there more to that just size.
“We've tried to get a little bit bigger up front but we're still looking for hockey players -- let's not get lost in just big bodies,” he said. “There's some skill, there's some speed and it's a real competitive group.
“That's probably the biggest thing we want to continue to add to is competitive people. It's sort of like a broken record, you never want to get too high or too low in July but for me, the best thing about this is getting to meet all the kids, putting faces to names and starting that relationship with them.”
The Flames prospects partake in a full scrimmage Sunday morning. Puck drop is 10:00 AM. The game will be streamed live on calgaryflames.com with Pat Steinberg of SN960 and Ryan Leslie of FlamesTV.
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