Calgary Herald

Future stars at rookie camp


The well-known likes of Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi? They get a pass.

John Ramage and Turner Elson, winners of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup less than a month ago, also stay home.

Another youngster has visa issues — Rushan Rafikov.

Another is coming off knee surgery — Michael Ferland.

Another has progressed past the point of these summertime hoedowns — Sean Monahan.

But, even with downgraded glitter quotient, Calgary Flames’ brass still has plenty to chew on this week during the developmen­t camp at WinSport’s Ice Complex.

Which, compared to, say, a halfdozen seasons ago, is saying something.

“I feel excited,” said Craig Conroy, assistant general manager. “We get lots of calls from teams who like our (prospects). I’ll admit — in years past, it wasn’t quite like that ... we didn’t get a lot of calls. Now we do. That’s a good sign for me. That means people are excited about our guys.”

For the Flames’ annual rookie camp, Brad Treliving wanted the invitation­s pared down — or, at least, re-themed. The general manager needed to clap eyes on fewer of the young pros, and more of the fresher commoditie­s.

Summoned are 41 players — including first-rounders Sam Bennett, Morgan Klimchuk, Mark Jankowski, Emile Poirier (who is recovering from shoulder surgery).

And, have no fear, Johnny Gaudreau will be on hand.

Of the invitees, 23 are property of the Flames. The other 18 are here on tryouts.

Friday, the players endure fitness testing.

Divided into two groups, they hit the ice Saturday.

“You know what? It’s a huge educationa­l tool for us,” said Conroy. “Now we get to meet them, they get to meet us. That’s the key for me — we know them as players, but we don’t know them as people that well. So to get them in, have them meet each other, it’s huge.”

Conroy is convinced that, in the long run, they get the most out of acclimatiz­ed players — those who are comfortabl­e in their surroundin­gs.

“As a young guy, you get a little nervous to even ask for a stick, some tape — you’re not sure,” he said. “But if you know people ... it makes a huge, huge difference. And you get to come to the city, see what it’s all about. Now you’re a member of the Calgary Flames, we expect more than what’s on the ice.” Good news for campers? The pace is likely to be ratcheted back.

“In years past, we’ve really hammered guys,” said Conroy. “We know what kind of players they are. We don’t want to kill them. We want them to have some fun, just enjoy it. Don’t try to do too much. Just be yourself.”

Flames stay busy signing players

July 1 has come and gone, but the Flames haven’t capped their pen.

Thursday, they signed four players — including forward Paul Byron.

G Brad Thiessen (one year, $115,000/$550,000)

Thiessen, last season, played for AHL Norfolk. In 2011-12, the Aldergrove, B.C., native made five appearance­s for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The landing spot for Thiessen, 28, is Adirondack, where he’ll help up-and-comer Joni Ortio.

“We just needed some depth in that position,” said Conroy. “Thiessen was a guy at the top of our list. We were excited to get him.”

D Sena Acolatse (one year, $150,000/$700,000)

Not tendered a qualifying offer by the San Jose Sharks, the (righthande­d-shooting) rearguard was available.

“Our guys really liked him — he brings an edge, a physical presence,” Conroy said of the 23-year-old, who spent the past three seasons with AHL Worcester. “We were actually trying to get him (last season). We think he’s a guy, who, moving forward, has a chance (to play in the NHL).”

C Mathieu Tousignant (AHLonly deal)

The 24-year-old will operate in Glens Falls, N.Y., this winter. But the Flames do like his game — being an on-ice nuisance

Last season with AHL Milwaukee, Tousignant picked up 21 points — and 158 penalty minutes — in 76 appearance­s.

“He is a real pain in the ass to play against,” Conroy said of the five-foot-11, 188-pounder.

“Fearless. He’ll fight anyone. He’s not big. (He’s like) Antoine Roussel. We’re really high on him. Like we told him, he brings an element that we maybe don’t have (in the minors). We have lots of skill down there now. If he does well, we think he could be a guy like Roussel, moving his way up.”

 ?? Jeff Zelevansky/AFP/Getty Images/Files ?? Sam Bennett, the fourth pick of the Calgary Flames at the 2014 NHL Draft, is one of 41 young players attending the NHL team’s rookie camp.
Jeff Zelevansky/AFP/Getty Images/Files Sam Bennett, the fourth pick of the Calgary Flames at the 2014 NHL Draft, is one of 41 young players attending the NHL team’s rookie camp.

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