Different paths, same goal for Calgary Flames development camp prospects
Jakob Pelletier is still riding the high of last month’s NHL draft.
“I kind of blacked out, so I don’t remember a lot,” the 18-year-old laughed. “I’m just happy and proud right now.”
The Calgary Flames‘ first-round draft pick is relishing the opportunity to show Flames staff and fans just who they’re getting.
“I don’t take a shift off,” Pelletier said. “I can score goals and make some plays on both ends of the ice.”
Forty players are attending this year’s Calgary Flames development camp.
While Pelletier only had to wait a matter of hours to hear his name called in Vancouver, goalie Dustin Wolf had to wait until the very last day — taken with the fourth last pick of the entire draft.
“It doesn’t matter where you get drafted,” Wolf shrugged. “You’re in the organization, so it’s a matter of putting the work in and trying to get better each and every day.”
Some players will never hear their names called at the draft.
“I was disappointed,” Jackson van de Leest admitted. “I knew coming in it didn’t matter where I ended up — as long as I had the opportunity to prove myself, I’d be able to succeed.”
The towering 6’6″ Calgary Hitmen defenseman is one of 15 players at camp who have earned a tryout.
“I’m striving to be the most competitive guy out here,” van de Leest added. “I’m super excited for practice tomorrow to prove that I’m meant to be out here.
“If I were to sign, it would be an amazing feeling, but the work doesn’t stop there. I’ve heard enough stories about guys who sign and don’t have the work ethic or drive to go on.”
Some got the invite at the very last second, like Moncton Wildcats assistant captain Jeremy McKenna, who had just a few days to pack up and get from Dallas, Texas to Cowtown.
“I was born in Canmore, so it’s kind of come full circle for me,” McKenna said. “I grew up cheering for the Flames. I’m so happy to be here, just soaking it all in and trying to learn as much as I can.”
He’s also reuniting with a teammate and friend.
McKenna remembers cheering from his living room as Brad Treliving said Pelletier’s name at the 2019 draft. One week later, Pelletier would be cheering for McKenna.
“I FaceTimed him as soon as I knew,” McKenna added. “He was really excited. It’s great to have him here, someone to go through everything with, someone I have good chemistry with.”
“He helped me a lot on and off the ice,” Pelletier said. “He was kind of my mentor. He showed me how to be a pro and I can’t thank him enough.”
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Whether they were picked in the draft or fought for a tryout, what matters is that they’re here, and have a chance to take their NHL dream to the next level.
Flames development camp wraps up at WinSport on Sunday.
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