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Experiences eases camp pressure for 2013 trio

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

For me, I wasn’t nearly as nervous this year as I was last year. I kind of know what to expect now. I’ve met with all the staff and have played in front of them a couple of times. Morgan Klimchuk

CALGARY, AB -- It’s a little bit easier, Morgan Klimchuk admits.

Having gone through a development camp with the Calgary Flames a year ago, another spin this summer has the former first round pick a little bit more comfortable on the ice this time around.

“For me, I wasn’t nearly as nervous this year as I was last year,” said Klimchuk, a first round pick of the Flames from 2013. “I kind of know what to expect now. I’ve met with all the staff and have played in front of them a couple of times.

"I wasn’t nearly as nervous today as I was last year.”

A year older, wiser and more experienced equates to a calmer approach for Klimchuk.

It's the same scenario for Emile Poirier, too.

“I’m just used to it,” said Poirier, selected six picks before Klimchuk. “I know what to expect here and what to do here. It’s a fun week and it just helps me enjoy it more. It’s a good week for preparation on what to expect for training camp. It’s a good week for everyone here.”

But there is still a level of nervousness to be had with the likes of president of hockey operations Brian Burke, general manager Brad Treliving and assistant GMs Craig Conroy and Brad Pascall watching on.

“It was exciting going into it,” said Keegan Kanzig, selected by Calgary in the third round, 67th overall a year ago. “It’s the first real full practice session. We’ll be getting into games, too. It’s exciting to get back into a full practice. I have been skating but it’s been smaller groups. Everybody is here watching. You’ve got the coaches and GM’s and all the hockey staff here. There’s that added little pressure to perform well even though it is just development camp.

"You’re constantly being evaluated. I will say there’s a little bit of nerves involved but it’s overweighted by excitement.”

Last year, the likes of Klimchuk, Kanzig and Poirier were plucked by Calgary in the 2013 NHL Draft. Less than two weeks later, the threesome hit the ice as part of a 44-player development camp, their first taste of life with the Flames.

With the 2014 crop having but a week before festivities kicked off this year, the camp veterans are quick to take the newest members of the Flames under their wings.

“I know a couple of them and I’ve met them all now,” Klimchuk said. “You want to show them the way. When I came here last year, it made it a lot easier when guys took you under their wing. It made things a lot smoother and it took some of the nerves out of it.

"That’s what I’m trying to do for those guys.”

Klimchuk, 19, isn’t the only one. He’s got help in the form of the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Kanzig.

The intimidating Victoria Royals blueliner hasn't been shy to lend a hand to the recruits.

“If there’s anything I can help with or a guy coming in that seems like he needs some help or seems lost, I try to help him like that,” Kanzig said.

He doesn’t have to look far to lend a hand.

The Flames selected Austin Carroll -- Kanzig’s teammate in Victoria -- in the seventh round, 184th overall in last week’s draft.

And though he is actually one year Kanzig’s elder, he had plenty of questions coming into Calgary’s development camp for the first time as Flames property.

“He’s a mature kid. He’s a good player,” Kanzig said. “He’s been to camps like this before. He knows what to expect and he knows what it takes to perform. At the same time, we did talk and discuss things going in that could help or what I thought camp would be like and how it went last year.”

Last year, Kanzig might not have had an inkling of what to expect.

And with the experience from a year under his belt, it’s made for a less stressful time all around.

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