PITTSBURGH, PA - Mark Jankowski had an algebra exam Thursday morning.
He did the math Friday afternoon when the Calgary Flames called him into a meeting just hours before making him the 21st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
“I was a little bit surprised,” said Jankowski, who amassed 53 goals and 93 points in 57 games with Stanstead College this season. “I met with Calgary earlier in the day. I had a good feeling. I just didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was really excited.”
When the Flames traded down from the 14th position, the equation was complete.
“I started thinking about it because I knew maybe that was one of the things they were thinking about and when they traded down I got a little more anxious and a little more excited before their pick,” Jankowski said. “I kept my fingers crossed. I had a good feeling. I just didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was really excited.”
Hearing his name called by general manager Jay Feaster nearly knocked the 6’2, 170 pound centre off his feet.
“I almost didn’t believe it for a second,” he admitted. “It was too surreal. I couldn’t be happier.”
Neither could Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel John Weisbrod, who landed the player he’s been targeting as the Flames first rounder since December.
“Since the first time I saw him, which was probably in December, Jay will tell you, I was telling him up until then we’ve got to trade the pick, we’ve got to trade the pick, we need the help now,” Weisbrod said. “I called him from some rink in the mountains of Quebec and said, scratch what I said, keep the pick, I found our guy.”
Weisbrod is confident that Jankowski will grow to be one of the best players from the 2012 draft class.
“I just think from a skill standpoint this guy has scary physical ability,” he said. “As far as raw materials go, he’s a kid that’s going to play at 6’4, 220 and has some velvet mitts on him. I think he’ll be a heck of a player.”
With the potential to develop an imposing frame coupled with offensive flair, Weisbrod went so far as to compare Jankowski to a former Flames great in hall-of-famer Joe Nieuwendyk.
“I look at him like a young Nieuwendyk, who obviously was one of the last guys to lift the Cup in Calgary,” Weisbrod said. “It’s the same model – a big, lanky guy with great skill and great skating. There’s not much physically this guy doesn’t have.”
If Nieuwendyk is one of the last to bring the Stanley Cup to Calgary, Jankowski has visions of being the next.
“That’s what I want to do,” he said. “I want to play in the NHL and make a big contribution and help the team win a Stanley Cup however I can.”
Which all adds up to Jankowski being a choice with the Flames first rounder.