I'm just trying to slow it down and settle in, keep my eyes and ears open and learn a lot. I'm getting a special opportunity here in the next few weeks to grow and learn from all these guys. - Kenny Agostino
CALGARY, AB -- Kenny Agostino hopes to be a quick study.
Less than 24 hours after signing his first professional contract, the Yale University standout was on the ice for practice with the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
“I'm just trying to slow it down and settle in, keep my eyes and ears open and learn a lot,” Agostino said after his first skate with the Flames. “I'm getting a special opportunity here in the next few weeks to grow and learn from all these guys.”
It’s understandable if the past few days have been a blur for the 21-year-old. The timeline on Agostino’s action has been rapid.
After four years of college hockey, he saw his NCAA career come to an end on Saturday when the Yale Bulldogs were eliminated in the playoffs. Come Monday, he had inked his first deal. On Tuesday, he was skating alongside the likes of Sean Monahan, Mike Cammalleri and Mark Giordano.
It’s expected he’ll make his NHL debut on Friday against the visiting Nashville Predators (7 p.m. MST, SNET-W, Sportsnet 960 The FAN).
“The past 72 hours have been pretty hectic as it was and I think if they threw me into the game tonight, it would have been hard to settle in,” Agostino said. “This way, I get to learn the systems, I get to settle in and see what they want.”
That’s the plan coach Bob Hartley laid out for the rookie.
Much like when the Flames acquired Joe Colborne, Hartley hopes to give Agostino plenty of time in the classroom before giving him his first test against the Predators.
“I just want to make sure that he settles down the right way,” Hartley said. “He had a long day of travel yesterday and to throw him in the game tonight, certainly it would be very exciting but I believe it would be counter productive. He has no idea what we’re trying to do over here.
“I want to make sure I give him a chance that he understands a little bit what he’s doing. He’s going to be obviously pretty nervous and that’s pretty normal for your first NHL game, especially with a game towards the end of the season. That’s something totally new for him. We have to give him a chance. That’s what we’re going to do.”
He’ll have plenty of help along the way. Ben Hanowski has already offered his ear to the 6-foot, 200-pound left winger.
Hanowski, acquired alongside Agostino and a first round pick in 2013 (Morgan Klimchuk) in exchange for Jarome Iginla last March, took a similar route last year, managing five games with the Flames following his four-year career at St. Cloud State.
His advice for Agostino? Soak it all in.
“In the locker room,” Hanowski began, “in the film room, in the weight room, what guys are doing on the road and how they conduct themselves. Every little thing is going to help finish this year and then progress into his first full season. Whatever he can learn with everything, lifestyle, workouts, playing the game, is going to be big for him.
“You just take it all in stride and learn from everything, whether it be the hockey side of it and even the media side of it and watch the older guys who have been doing it for a while. Soak it in and enjoy it. It’s still hockey and I think the more you relax and have fun with it, the better he’ll play and the better he’ll learn from it.”
It’ll be a challenge for Agostino, who still has to juggle his studies with Yale. The political science major has four courses to finish before graduating.
He’ll be juggling school and sport to the potential chagrin of his professors. He awaits their reaction.
“To be honest, I still haven't heard back from any of my professors,” Agostino said. “Hopefully I get some positive emails back that they'll work with me while I'm gone.
“I'll be trying to bang out some papers during the day when I'm not at the rink.”
And hammer out some Flames homework when he is.