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Culkin a pillar of strength on Remparts blueline

Thursday, 10.25.2012 / 6:23 AM MT / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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Culkin a pillar of strength on Remparts blueline

CALGARY, AB -- When the Calgary Flames drafted Quebec Remparts defenceman Ryan Culkin in the fifth round (124th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft, his offensive numbers didn't jump off the page.

Yes, he accumulated 25 points (6 goals, 19 assists) through 60 regular season games last year but the Remparts are a highly-potent offensive club with plenty of fire power so when it came to attention paid to production on the blueline, Culkin's fellow defencemen Martin Lefebvre (51 points) and Mikael Tam (43 points) got a big chunk of the spotlight.

But Flames Director of Amateur Scouting Tod Button saw the potential in the Montreal, QC product and felt, if given the opportunity, Culkin could become a top two-way player in the QMJHL.

"We always thought one of his strengths was moving the puck," Button said. "And how it translated to the offensive game, we weren't sure. He didn't play a lot on the power play last year.

"The transition, as you get older and you're a good player, you play more on special teams. We knew he could handle the puck and he could move it. As far as creating offence, we felt that he could produce a lot more and he's off to a great start."

Through 11 games this season, Culkin has amassed 12 points and established himself as a top-two defenceman for the club. He plays big minutes in all situations and he is deployed against the opposition's top lines on nightly basis.

"With more experience and playing at a higher level, it's given me the confidence to join the rush a bit more and play a bit more risky," Culkin said. "That's what I've been doing and it's been working out for the benefit of our hockey team this year."

His hot start has not only helped the Remparts. Culkin's play caught the attention of CHL selection committee for the 2012 Subway Super Series and on Oct. 16, he was named the QMJHL roster.

When discussing the first month of the season and the strides he has made, the 18 year-old immediately steers the conversation to Remparts head coach Patrick Roy. This is Culkin's third season under the NHL legend and he says working with Roy over the years has done wonders for his development.

"It's an honour to play for him. He's honest with you. He tells you what you're doing wrong, what you're doing right. And that's what you need in a coach - honesty.

"He knows what to say before the game, during the game and after the game. He's just an all-around great coach ... Patrick Roy has done a great job developing me from the first year all the way to now. I can't say enough about him."

Many have dubbed the Remparts as a QMJHL powerhouse this season and thus far, they are living up to the hype. They sit third in the league with a 10-2-0 record, have allowed the least goals against with 27 through 12 games, hold the best power play record in the QMJHL with 17 goals scored through 54 opportunities and have yet to lose on home ice.

"I'm really satisfied in the team this year," Culkin said. "We have great 20 year-old players this year, we've got great young players that played last year and they're just building every game.

"We're going to be a team that everyone hates to play against and that's what we want."