Colorado Avalanche prospect Cody Corbett won't be star struck this week at training camp.
He's already been there, done that.
While this next week will be Corbett's first camp with the Avalanche, it won't be his first NHL camp as he participated in the Minnesota Wild's training camp last season as a non-roster invitee and has already been in awe of skating with some of the league's best players.
|Cody Corbett |
"It was awesome. I'll take that and run with it any time I can be a defensive pairing with Ryan Suter," said Corbett in an interview with ColoradoAvalanche.com last spring. "Some of those guys, Keith Ballard, it was pretty cool to be on the same ice as those guys.
"I won't forget Zach Parise coming down the ice toward me, and I didn't know what to do. I was just stargazing. It was my first time practicing with those guys, and I was just kind of soaking it in. I was just trying to live in the moment."
While Corbett had no pressure and just enjoyed the Wild's camp last September with full knowledge that he would return to the Edmonton Oil Kings for his final junior season, this year will be a different story. He'll be looking to make a positive impression with the Avalanche organization's coaching and scouting staff and try to earn a spot on Colorado's blue line.
However, the defenseman said already having one NHL camp under his belt is a benefit to him.
"That was good to get a pro camp like that in [last year], and just being able to play at that pace, knowing what to expect going forward," Corbett said.
He'll also have a familiar face during camp that he can lean on for advice in fellow Avs prospect and former Oil King Trevor Cheek.
The two players were teammates in Edmonton during part of the 2012-13 campaign and stayed in contact this past year while Corbett was helping lead the Oil Kings to the Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup championships and Cheek was playing in his first professional season with Lake Erie.
"I talked with Trevor Cheek, and he was saying it’s a different lifestyle," Corbett said of the difference between junior and the pros. "The game happens so much quicker, everybody is bigger, faster and strong. I just have to prepare myself for situations where I might be out-powered or out-strengthened or if somebody is a little faster than me. I just have to prepare myself for situations like that."
While the two players play different positions—Cheek is listed as a left wing—they are also similar. Both Americans and having played three years in the WHL, they were signed by the Avs as undrafted free agents and have gone out to try and prove naysayers wrong.
After being passed up in two drafts, that chip on Corbett's shoulder helped him become one of the best offensive D-men in the Canadian Hockey League last year.
The 20-year-old registered 61 points (17 goals and 44 assists) in 65 regular-season contests with Edmonton in 2013-14, setting new franchise records for points and goals by a defenseman in a season. He finished his junior career with 129 points (30 goals and 99 assists), which also established a new franchise record for a blue liner.
Corbett continued his offensive onslaught in the postseason, as he tallied six goals and 13 points in 21 WHL playoffs games and recorded six points (a goal and five assists)—the most by a defenseman and fourth overall—in five games during the Memorial Cup. He had points in each of the Oil Kings' final four games at the Memorial Cup, including scoring a power-play goal in the final, and was named to the tournament's All-Star Team.
"Definitely coming into this [past] year it was kind of like my last chance to prove myself," Corbett said. "I had gotten passed over in the draft in both years of my eligibility. That really fueled the fire a little bit. That was something that pushed me during the summer to train harder and just work at my game that much more. I think that actually helped me a lot."
Luckily for the Avalanche, the club signed the Stillwater, Minn., native to a two-year entry-level contract on March 5 before the 6-foot-1, 204-pound rear guard went on his playoff tear.
Corbett seems to realize that pro hockey is a business, and it's about winning and performing at your very best in the present. But it doesn't mean he still can't have fun doing it and continue what he's done throughout his playing career, living in the moment.
"Going into next year I'm not really sure what to look for, what's going to happen. I'm hoping to learn as I go, and try to have fun with it and do the best that I can," he said. "Just show everybody that I'm there to play."