Fleury keen for shot at Mem Cup
Big, mobile defenceman says joining Pats was at the top of his trade wish list
A long distance endorsement hit close to home for the newest member of the Regina Pats.
After learning that Regina had acquired him in a blockbuster deal with the Kootenay Ice on Monday, defenceman Cale Fleury eagerly shared the news during a brief phone conversation with his brother Haydn, a former WHL star and current rookie with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
The elder sibling congratulated Cale on joining the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup — a privilege Haydn enjoyed two years ago in his final junior campaign with the Red Deer Rebels. His unique perspective added some excitement to the occasion and made him one of the first people Cale sought out after the deal was completed.
“We have pretty busy schedules — they don’t always line up — but I talked to him about it,” said Fleury, who arrived in Regina on Tuesday and is slated to make his Pats debut Wednesday against the Calgary Hitmen (7 p.m., Brandt Centre).
“I actually got a phone call from (Pats head coach/GM) John (Paddock) while we were talking, so we kind of got cut a little bit short. He just said: ‘It’s going to be awesome playing in Regina, especially with the Memorial Cup.’”
Big brother will get no argument from Cale, who missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons with Kootenay. Although he had mixed emotions about leaving the only WHL home he’s known, Fleury admitted that Regina was one of the teams at the top of his wish list.
“I couldn’t really ask for anything more,” said Fleury, who knew there was a good chance he would be dealt by the rebuilding Ice.
“Even at the end of last year when Jeff Chynoweth was our GM, he told me his plan was to trade me at the deadline this year.
“Obviously with having new ownership and a new GM, I wasn’t too sure (what would happen). But I understand the situation they’re in and kind of expected it to happen at some point.”
The Pats spent about a year chasing Fleury, who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2017 NHL draft.
In order to land him, the Pats agreed to a substantial package that included two players (veteran defenceman Jonathan Smart and promising rookie forward Cole Muir) along with two bantam draft picks (second- and sixth-round in 2018). Regina also gives up a second-round selection in 2019 or 2020, should Fleury return for his 20-year-old season instead of turning pro.
“It’s a confidence booster to me with how much they really wanted me,” said Fleury, 19.
“I’ve heard they’ve been trying to trade for me for a while now and they gave up a good amount of people and picks. It makes me feel good that I’m going to a team that really wants me.”
Much like his brother, who was drafted seventh overall by Carolina in 2014, Cale has good size and puck-moving ability. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is a strong skater and shooter who is very comfortable in both ends of the rink.
“I’m just a steady two-way defenceman,” said Fleury, who was born in Regina and spent much of his childhood in Carlyle before moving to Calgary.
“I can be offensive and I can log good minutes defensively, too, and help shut down (top lines) on the back end.
“I try to be good at everything.” The Pats believe Fleury’s allaround game will complement a group of offensive-minded defenders. He had 11 goals and 38 points in 70 games last season as the captain and No. 1 rearguard with the Ice.
As an added bonus, Fleury gives the Pats a right-handed shot for their left-heavy defence, allowing Paddock to deploy more players on their natural side.
“We would have been looking at him if he was a left-hand shot but, as a right-hand shot, he’s a significant piece,” said Paddock. “He’s got some physical elements to his game. Any team needs a blend of different types of players in certain positions. He’s a different element than we have right now.
“Cale is going to be a valuable player to us.”
He just said: ‘It’s going to be awesome playing in Regina, especially with the Memorial Cup.’
Cale Fleury brings size and puck-moving ability to the Pats defence corps. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is a strong skater and shooter who is comfortable in both ends of the rink.