BROSSARD - In the leadup to the 2017 NHL Draft, Cale Fleury made a bet with his family that he would be drafted by the Canadiens. And though he didn't end up putting any money down on the wager, he still came out a winner.
"It was for $20, but I'm kind of broke right now, so I didn't actually put any money on it," joked Fleury, who was the Canadiens' third-round (87th overall) selection this June in Chicago. "I felt I had a great meeting with them at the combine in Buffalo and I'm happy I ended up here."
The 2017 Draft wasn't the Fleury family's first foray into the NHL's annual amateur selection process. Cale's older brother, Haydn - also a defenseman - was selected seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2014, and played 69 games for their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, in 2016-17. The younger Fleury confirms that his older brother's experience was a big help when it came time to prepare for his own draft day.
"For sure, even just being there myself in his draft year helped. He's been a step ahead of me my whole life, so I've watched him, I know what he's been doing," explained the 18-year-old Habs prospect. "I've been able to learn from his mistakes. It's helped me out."
If the thought of playing for the Montreal Canadiens may seem daunting to some, Fleury asserts that his experience in Junior has helped him prepare for the journey. The Calgary native was named captain of the Kootenay Ice midway through his third season with the team - only the fourth 18-year-old in franchise history to earn the honor - and felt the "C" suited him well.
"We traded away two pretty big pieces of our team at the deadline. They were two 20-year-olds who had been there awhile, and they were the top guys on the team along with myself. Once they were gone, it was more on me," recalled Fleury, who netted 11 goals and added 27 assists in 70 WHL games last season. "I felt I really embraced it during the second half of the season."
Fleury describes himself as a good two-way defenseman, one who's tough to play against and contributes offensively. His 38 points were tops among Ice blue-liners last season, and 17 of those points were recorded on the power play.
After first taking advice from his older brother in the leadup to draft day, Fleury once again called on Haydn for some pointers ahead of his first professional development camp, gaining insight which the younger Fleury said came very much in handy.
"He told me that most development camps are pretty hard. His, personally, was pretty tough his first year, so he told me to just be ready for it," recounted the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder, who registered 67 penalty minutes last season. "That's what I've been training for this summer."
Grueling as the camp may have been, Fleury still feels like he's hit the jackpot with the Canadiens, and is looking forward to what's to come.
"It was my first year coming in, so I got a feel for what it's like here, and what their expectations are," he concluded. "I liked it a lot. It was a learning experience for me."
Video: Goals from Wednesday's scrimmage