When Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry take to the ice later tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights, they will have a fresh-faced prospect on their left side. That will be Giovanni Fiore, a 21-year-old free agent signing who is in the midst of his first training camp with Anaheim.
Fiore skated alongside Getzlaf and Perry yesterday during practice on a day when the Ducks trimmed 18 players off their training camp roster. Fiore is still here, no doubt getting an extended look from the Ducks' hockey operations staff that saw something special during his four years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
So how was it skating alongside two of the franchise's most iconic players?
"Things went really well," said Fiore, who, in addition to missing a tooth, is wearing some battle scars on his face from last week's scrimmage. "It's cool and amazing, but at the same time I have to do my job. I have to make the team. I have to do my job at the end of the day."
The Montreal native went undrafted, but the Ducks took a chance on him and signed him to a three-year entry-level contract last April. It came on the heels of a monstrous season with Cape Breton. Fiore set career highs in goals (52), assists (38), points (90) and plus-minus (+36), while leading the Screaming Eagles with 12 points (8g/4a) in 11 playoff games. Fiore led the QMJHL in goals, co-led in power-play goals, ranked tied for fifth in scoring, seventh in plus/minus and tied for seventh in points per game (1.48).
Fiore says he's had one goal in mind ever since he got a phone call from Anaheim last spring. "Progression is my biggest asset," he said. "As long as I'm progressing every day, that means I'm getting better. That's what the team is looking for. Ever since I got the call, I've had one goal in mind. I want to play with the Anaheim Ducks."
With a solid 6-1, 193-pound frame, Fiore brings a speed element alongside two players known for their grinding style of play down low. That's just fine for Fiore.
"I can bring speed and shoot the puck," he said. "My forte is my shooting. I'm a big body also. I've been following [the Ducks] for a while. I loved watching them play in the playoffs. They have a gritty edge to them, and I'm not afraid to mix it up either."
Tonight marks Fiore's second NHL preseason game after he made his debut on Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes. Fiore went scoreless, but finished with three shots on goal in 15:28 TOI. "Had a couple of butterflies, but I thought things went well," he said. "I had a couple of scoring opportunities and I did my job."
How long Fiore stays with the Ducks remains to be seen, but, like the other prospects attending camp, he's taking it day by day. For now, he's making the most of his time here.
"I can't complain," he said. "Things are going good for me. The weather is nice and it keeps everyone happy. Everyone has a smile on their face."
That includes Fiore, missing tooth and all.