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Cameron to join Flames AHL affiliate

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
Bryan Cameron's junior career ended on Tuesday night.

Bryan Cameron heads from junior to pro this week

His professional career begins Thursday. Such is the life of a hockey player.

Cameron, a highly-rated junior prospect recently signed as a free agent by the Calgary Flames will get little rest time -- he'll fly from Ontario to Abbotsford to join the Flames top affiliate, the AHL's Abbotsford Heat as they continue their playoff battle to reach the Calder Cup.

Cameron, a who played for the Barrie Colts, will have some company on the plane as another Flames prospect, T.J. Brodie, will also be heading to Abbotsford. The pair are one of a number of junior prospects who, once completed their junior seasons, have headed to the American Hockey League for seasoning. The others include Mitch Wahl (Spokane), Lance Bouma (Vancouver) and Carter Bancks (Lethbridge).

"It's a tough thing to go out...We were expected to go to the Memorial Cup," said Cameron as he packed for the West Coast. "But it's definitely nice to get a chance to go and see what the next level is all about."

Cameron, 21, led the Canadian Hockey League in goals this season with 53. The five-foot-10, 175-pounder had 25 assists for 78 points in 62 games.

Converting those numbers into the pro game is never an easy task but it is one Cameron is looking forward to, beginning today when he arrives in Abbotsford.

"It didn't take long. All this happened in about a week," said Cameron of signing a contract and heading West. "I really want to get familiar with things. Whatever they want me to do, I will do it," said Cameron.

The Los Angeles Kings originally selected Cameron in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but the two sides never agreed on a contract, making him a free agent.

"Not having a second round pick, we thought we had to replace that through the college and junior free agents," explained Sutter, who, along with his scouts, scoured the unsigned junior and college players before getting in the derby for Cameron. "We felt that he was the best 20-year-old offensive player in junior that wasn't signed," said Flames general manager Darryl Sutter.

When the Colts lost the Ontario Hockey League Final to defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor, Cameron began preparing for the pro ranks. The Flames want to get him on a fitness program and used to the routine that comes with professional hockey -- something that is a little different than junior hockey.

"There is a big jump from junior to the American Hockey League. The jump from the AHL to the NHL isn't as big as people think," said Sutter. "Sometimes it is not so much on the ice as it is off the ice," said Sutter, who noted players need to be more independent, eat properly, get the correct rest to physical activity to help make the transition to the pro ranks.

In midget, Cameron served as captain for the Toronto Marlboros and played with John Tavares, the first overall pick of the New York Islanders in the 2009.

Cameron, along with Taylor Hall, is coming off his second straight season as an Ontario Hockey League first-team all-star. The other forwards named to the team were Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, the two players expected to be picked one-two at the Entry Draft this summer.

The newest Flame will meet up with some familiar faces in Abbotsford -- he knows defenceman Matt Pelech and forward John Armstrong from his playing time in Ontario.

And, he works out with Flames defenceman Mark Giordano in the summer in Ontario. Coincidentally, Giordano was a free agent signing by the Flames in 2004 after not being drafted in the OHL.

Giordano has developed into a steady, regular blueliner, recording 11 goals and 28 assists last season.

If Cameron can develop into a steady, regular forward with scoring touch, the Flames will have hit another free agent home run.
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