Abbotsford Update: Training Camp - Day 2
Abbotsford forward Mitch Wahl's first two professional seasons were a tumultuous roller-coaster ride but for him, those years are a distant memory and he cannot wait to start the next chapter of his career.
"I'm doing really good," he said with grin after practice on Sunday afternoon. "I had a really good summer in California. It was long - I was home for a good five and half months so I had a lot of time to put in at the gym. I felt like I made really good gains.
"I know how the last two years have gone for me but despite all that, I'm still confident in myself and I'm really looking forward to getting this year started."
Wahl's professional career started two years ago when he joined the Abbotsford Heat after four seasons with the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL. Drafted by the Flames in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Wahl demonstrated excellent on-ice vision and offensive skills during his tenure with the Chiefs and many expected the pivot to make his way up the Heat's depth chart as the his first year in Abbotsford progressed.
However, he was sidelined for the majority of the season after being hit by Aaron Volpatti and suffering a fractured cheek bone and concussion. He missed 63 games due to the injury and when he came back the following season, he didn't get off to the start he would have liked.
Wahl played five games for the Heat without a point and ended up being loaned to the Hamilton Bulldogs. He spent close to three months there, scoring two goals and posting five points in 22 games.
He also spent some time in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies at the end of the season where he was able to build up his confidence with a 20-goal, 40-point performance in the 38 games he played.
He has put those experiences behind him over the summer, mentally preparing himself for the 2012-13 campaign. Wahl wants to establish himself as reliable, every-day AHLer this year and has a pretty good idea of what it will take to get him there.
"I need to bring what I can to the table. I think management knows what kind of player I am and I realize there is a lot of centremen here. I think that is where I should be playing - I'm open to playing other positions - but I just have to be myself and try to stand out. It's a big camp for me.
"I'm feeling confident and I'm looking forward to getting going here."
One player noticeably absent from practice is Greg Nemisz. The forward has not been present at any of the on-ice sessions due to a lower body injury.
"He's doing his rehab," Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward said. "It's a summer injury he had with training. I don't think he's far off but at the same time, I'm not optimistic in the next 48 hours. But I think he's doing pretty well.
Given his track record here in Abbotsford and where he's at in this organization, at this point we're in no big hurry."
Nemisz played a big role up front for the Heat last year, scoring 13 goals and 29 points. His consistency and smart play earned him nine games with the Flames.