I’m not going to say I’m going to make the team, but that’s definitely my goal and I’m just going to go out there and try my hardest to do whatever I can to make it. Whatever happens, happens. Definitely, I’m going to do whatever I can. - Sam Bennett
CALGARY, AB -- For top prospects hopeful to line up with the Calgary Flames full-time come October, July’s development camp has helped set the tone.
And with an open competition for roster spots, the six-day summer school has proved valuable.
“I learned you’ve really got to pay attention to the details,” said forward Sam Bennett, Calgary’s top pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. “That was a big focus by the coaching staff. Also, just the conditioning part is going to be huge to play in the NHL. That’s got to be at its peak.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great experience. It gets me used to the city and to the team and what they expect. It was a great camp and I’m really happy.”
The camp served as Bennett’s official introduction to the Flames organization after the team drafted the Kingston Frontenacs standout fourth overall just a week-and-a-half ago.
It’s made him hungrier for main camp while giving him an indication on what he needs to do to have an impact come September.
“That’s going to be a lot of my focus,” said Bennett, who will participate in Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team summer development camp in August. “As soon as I get back, I’m going to step right back into the gym and train as much as I can until I have the Hockey Canada event.”
From there, Bennett’s mindset will again flip to becoming a full-time member of the Flames.
“I’m not going to say I’m going to make the team, but that’s definitely my goal and I’m just going to go out there and try my hardest to do whatever I can to make it," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. Definitely, I’m going to do whatever I can.”
The same holds true for Johnny Gaudreau, too.
With the 20-year-old’s first professional camp looming, the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner approached development camp with an eye on September.
“I think I had a good camp this weekend but there’s definitely some improvement I can have,” he said. “Everyone can. I just have to make sure I fix those little things and get ready for training camp.”
The approach has him not only readying for camp but eyeing a spot on the Flames final roster.
“You’ve got to make sure you have the right attitude coming in,” the 5-foot-9 forward admitted. “You don’t want to come in thinking you aren’t going to make the team. It’s not a good attitude. Everyone’s fighting for a spot so it’s going to be difficult. I’ve got a lot of work for the rest of the summer here.
“I’m just going to make sure I’m ready to come out here flying for training camp.”
It’s exactly the kind of attitude Brad Treliving was hoping would fester in his top prospects.
“I find with a lot of young players when we get into September, you can't just stick you toe in the pool,” the Flames general manager said. “You've got to jump in. We go two days and then we're playing pre-season games, so be ready to go at the start of camp, not three or four days into it. So the time between now and then, it's critical to come in the best possible shape.
“We're looking for players, so don't think because you're a young player that there's not opportunity. You're gonna have to earn it, but there's an opportunity.
"Hopefully that message has been received.”