Opportunity like this can make a prospect’s eyes swell to the size of a dinner plate.

And beginning here at his first Flames camp, a hungry Hunter Brzustewicz has every intention to feast.

“(I’m coming) here with the attitude of making the team,” the blueliner said following the first day of on-ice instruction.

“I do,” he added, matter-of-factly, of whether or not sees the door open now, with Craig Conroy and the Flames currently reconstructing the roster. “And I'm very excited about it.”


But Brzustewicz, who was acquired as part of the Elias Lindholm trade over the winter, is coming off a monster year with the Kitchener Rangers, potting 13 goals and adding an OHL-leading 79 helpers (as a defenceman!) to plant him firmly in Calgary’s long-term plans.

“I think the 'want' level,” Brzustewicz said of why making a career in the Stampede City appeals to him. “They wanted me. It feels good to be traded (for) and they came to me right away wanting me to sign.

“That felt really good.”

For the Flames, the decision to was an absolute no-brainer.

Brzustewicz had rapidly become one of the most exciting prospects in the entire country, and almost immediately set a path for the NHL club to begin stocking the blueline with elite offensive thinkers with fast feet and puck-moving prowess.

Consider the depth the Flames have in this position now:

Joni Jurmo (Lindholm trade), Artem Grushnikov (Chris Tanev trade) and the recently drafted Zayne Parekh – the only player to out-score Brzustewicz from the blueline last year – and Henry Mews followed, adding to a pool of 25-and-under up-and-comers that include the previously selected Jeremie Poirier, Ilya Solovyov, Etienne Morin, Yan Kuznetsov and Axel Hurtig.

"Be the best I can"

For Brzustewicz, points have never been hard to come by. It’s what set him apart as a youngster when he culled 111 points (15G, 96A) at the Triple-A level with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, before the U.S. National Development Team Program came knocking.

From there, the Washington, Mich. native took his talents to the Ontario tri-cities, where he continued plying his craft as a prolific point producer.

But make no mistake:

Underestimate the all-around game from this exceptional 19-year-old at your own peril.

He does plenty more than fill the net – and now, he wants the hockey world to know about it.

“Multiple guys can play multiple roles,” Brzustewicz said of the modern-day d-man. “Even me, I think I can play any role they want me to and I think it's cool to see that there are a lot of offensive guys in this organization now.

“But I definitely do think I can do anything – whatever the team needs me to do.”

While that has to be music to the ears of Flames fans everywhere, it shouldn’t cool the enthusiasm this rapid fanbase has when imagining how the powerplay could look at some point in the future.

Even Conroy revealed last Saturday at the NHL Draft that the approach, organizationally, has changed, with an emphasis on adding skill via trade and through the annual prospect showcase.

“You’re going to Penticton and you’ve got Brzustewicz, you’ve got Parekh, you’ve got Mews,” he marvelled. “The powerplay better be humming! Tell those coaches no excuses, right?

“You’re looking for skill and you got it.”

For now, Brzustewicz and Parekh will remain separated during the on-ice portion at Dev Camp, before Team Crisp and Team MacNeil go head-to-head in the 50-minute Snowy Cup scrimmage on Saturday.

That will provide fans with their first glimpse of the pair, together, on the same sheet.

And a glimpse, perhaps, of the future, as well.

“I would lying if I said no,” Brzustewicz said when asked if he’s thought about what the next few years could look like here in Calgary. “We've all got to make it first.

“But it's definitely exciting to think how some of these guys could be teammates in the future.”