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Familiar face adds camp comfort for Karnaukhov

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames



CALGARY, AB --
If everything seems to be coming at new Calgary Flames recruit Pavel Karnaukhov pretty quick, that’s understandable.

It’s even expected.

But fortunately for the 18-year-old, who also doubles as one of two import players for the Calgary Hitmen, he has a bit of a tour guide.

And he’s not hard to spot in a crowd, all 6-foot-7, 245 pounds of him in teammate, and now camp running mate, Keegan Kanzig.

“Before the draft we talked,” said Karnaukhov, who in his rookie season in the Western Hockey League in 2014-15 amassed 20 goals and 42 points. “We met in Calgary and were talking. He’s a good guy and he’s with the Calgary Hitmen and the Calgary Flames. It’s pretty cool. It’s so good because we will play as teammates here with Calgary Flames and also with Calgary Hitmen. It’s so good because he helps me.”

Kanzig, acquired by the Hitmen in a trade that sent forward Greg Chase to the Victoria Royals last November, was selected by the Flames in the third round (No. 67) in the 2013 NHL Draft.

As such, he’s been through two of these before.

Plus, he’s already experienced after serving as a break-in for another former teammate.

“It’s always cool to have a teammate drafted to the same team as I am and it happened with a former teammate with Austin Carroll and then again with Pavel this year,” said Kanzig. “Both of them are really good players and there’s no surprise they were picked up by this organization.

“It is kind of a cool time because I have teammates who were drafted and former teammates. It’s just kind of cool to see guys get opportunities when you see them during the season working hard and know that they earned it.”

Carroll was selected with Calgary’s final pick (No. 184) in the 2014 NHL Draft and had his first spin in Flames gear around this time last year.

Karnaukhov was picked in the fifth round (No. 136) just two weeks ago and is getting his first taste of development camp life with the pro team.

And with new experiences coming at him, the draft feels ages apart, the native of Minsk, Belarus suggested.

“I’ve forgot about the draft already,” said Karnaukhov, who is rooming in camp with Morgan Klimchuk. “I am just going to keep working and preparing for the season.”

Again, Kanzig, who had 13 helpers in 49 games with the Hitmen in 2014-15 and 19 total, is willing to lend an assist.

Though he’s not so certain Karnaukhov needs it.

“I try to help him out and he’s a smart guy,” Kanzig said. “For the most part he does well on his own but I like him to know that if he has any questions he can approach me and he has a couple of times too with some small details about camp.

"I’m comfortable being there to help him if he needs anything.”

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