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Aiming high

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Dissatisfied with his offensive production in recent years, Tomas Fleischmann is looking to get back on track in La Belle Province.

Fleischmann, who signed a professional tryout contract with the CH on September 12, split the 2014-15 campaign between the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks, and registered eight goals and 27 points in 66 regular season games, before adding one assist in six postseason outings.

Tomas Fleischmann met with members of the media on Thursday afternoon in Brossard.

On the verge of beginning his 11th NHL season, the 31-year-old Koprivnice, Czech Republic native is wholeheartedly embracing the chance to vie for a full-time roster spot in Montreal.

“It’s a great opportunity. I think, at my age, I fit well here. We’ll see how it goes on the ice, but I see it as a great opportunity with one of the greatest teams,” offered Fleischmann, who, despite being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, began his NHL career with the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season. “The last few years weren’t perfect. I didn’t play like I expected to play. This is my opportunity to rise.”

The talented left-winger, who boasts 123 goals and 310 points in 581 career NHL games, knows full well that stiff competition awaits when on-ice sessions get underway on Friday morning at the Bell Sports Complex. A veteran player like Fleischmann, however, isn’t about to let that get the best of him.

“I’m looking forward to [training camp]. I just want to have fun and enjoy hockey. That’s why I signed a PTO. I didn’t want to sit at home and wait for something that maybe wasn’t going to happen. I’m just excited to be here and be on the ice,” shared Fleischmann, who put up a career-high 27 goals and 61 points in 82 games with Florida in 2011-12, but has only scored 28 times since then over the last three years combined. “You could see that this team is playing in the playoffs every year and they almost got to the Stanley Cup Finals [two years ago]. I’m just looking to win the Stanley Cup, too.”

With that in mind, what does the two-time 20-goal scorer – and one-time Olympian – believe he can bring to the table should he earn his place with Michel Therrien’s squad come early October?

“My hockey is simple. It’s about skill, trying to find an open guy or score goals. That’s how I play,” explained Fleischmann, who has no intention of plying his trade in the AHL ranks in 2015-16, confirming that the NHL remains his one and only option. “I expect to make plays and score goals when I have the opportunity. I certainly don’t have to be a Top 6 guy, but my goal is that I want to play on the first line.”

Should Max Pacioretty remain sidelined due to injury, Torrey Mitchell is among several Habs who insists Fleischmann would be a solid addition up front.

“He’s a good player. He can bring some offense. He’s a player who has proved himself in the past,” praised Mitchell, who will begin his 10th NHL season on October 7 in Toronto. “I’ve played against him for a long time. I know he’s a good player.”

Now, Fleischmann is out to prove it to those charged with making roster-related decisions.

“In Florida, I didn’t have much playing time. I expected to play in the Top 6. That didn’t happen, though. Then, I got traded to Anaheim. It was a great experience in the playoffs. Other than that, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for,” concluded Fleischmann, who hasn’t had a chance to sit down with members of the Canadiens’ brass to discuss their expectations of him as of yet. “[As far my fitness level goes], you’ll have to ask the coaches, but I feel great.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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