Gillies soaking it all in
CALGARY, AB -- Netminder Jon Gillies has been sporting a smile for the last two days and given his attitude surrounding his first NHL development camp, don't expect that grin to go away any time soon.
"I'm just taking in the experience," he said on Tuesday. "It's my first time at anything like this. It's been fun.
"All these great players ... some of them can really shoot it so it's a change. They're all pretty much older than me so I'm trying to rise to the occasion and do my best."
Gillies, who was drafted by the Flanes in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft, is facing shooters who are older and have far more experience than his opposition over the last two years with the USHL's Indiana Ice. He has already learned quite a bit from the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Roman Horak and Greg Nemisz.
"Just how smart they are, how experienced they are. They can really shoot the puck. You have to be on your toes at all times and stay as square as possible."
The Concord, NH product sees development camp as the perfect opportunity to get a read on what kind of competition he'll be facing when he heads to Providence College in the fall. It also is a good tool to prepare him for USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp later on this summer.
"It will definitely get my accustomed to the caliber of players. The players are going to similar to this, all these pro guys. I'm learning what the tempo is like, what the shoot speed is like and just trying to get my anticipation skills up."
Providence head coach Nate Leaman loves what Gillies brings to the table and has him penciled in as the Friars starting goalie in the fall.
"Extremely athletic - very good foot work for a 6-foot-5 goaltender," Leaman said at the NHL Draft. "Jon has high-end potential as a goalie. I think one special thing about Jon is how motivated and how passionate he is about the game and about getting better.
"We expect Jon to be our guy this year. We expect Jon to carry the games."
No doubt it is nerve-wracking to go to a new team with such high expectations but Gillies has been able to get a feel for the organization already. Friars captain Tim Schaller is attending development camp on an amateur try-out agreement.
"(It's been fun) to hang out with Tim, to get to know the school and know what it's like going in. Get a little bit of an edge that way."
Mark Jankowski has also committed to Providence and Gilles has been spending a lot of time with the Flames 2012 first round pick this week.
"Mark and I good friends so I've been trying to push him to come in this year but I think he's going to Dubuque for a year so I wish him the best of luck."