CALGARY, AB -- Ryan Wilson gets the irony.
Invited to Calgary Flames camp on a try-out, the 28-year-old will be opposite his former club Thursday with the hopes of leaving enough of an impression -- perhaps on both sides -- to earn an opportunity with his new one.
“It’s going to be fun going back there,” said Wilson, who has spent parts of seven seasons as a member of the Colorado Avalanche organization, Calgary’s opponent in their third pre-season skate. “I had a lot of years spent there and I know a lot of the guys. The biggest thing is to just play hockey and try to get the (win).”
Injuries plagued Wilson throughout his tenure in Colorado.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defenceman has just 230 games of National Hockey League experience under his belt -- all with the Avalanche -- during his tenure. The most Wilson managed to suit up for in any given season was limited to 67, and he played more than 30 games just three times.
A shoulder injury limited him to just three games last season, prompting Colorado to let him leave via unrestricted free agency.
But there’s no hard feelings, Wilson suggested.
“They gave me a chance and I had some great years there,” he said. “Obviously, with being injured a lot the last two years, it got to the point where it was hard for them to keep me around. It’s just one of those things. It’s a business. I had a great time with that organization. It was just time to turn the page and move on.”
Wilson is one of three defencemen in Calgary’s camp on a professional try-out, joining Douglas Murray and Aaron Johnson as unsigned veterans hoping for another shot at earning a full-time NHL gig.
After an audition in Calgary’s 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place, Wilson will get another opportunity at the Pepsi Center in Colorado.
Against a few of his former teammates, no less.
“It’ll be fun,” said Wilson, originally signed by Calgary to an entry-level contract in 2008, and a year later was traded by the Flames along with Lawrence Nycholat and a second round pick to the Avalanche in exchange for Jordan Leopold.
“You practice against those guys for years. Hopefully I know some of their tendencies more then they think. You’re friends with everyone, but you don’t have any friends on the ice. My game is a bit more physical or edgy than some other guys, so I’ve got to bring that every night and see how it goes.”
While Wilson will be skating in his second pre-season game, forwards Josh Jooris and Joe Colborne will be making their first appearances.
Both are recovering from offseason wrist surgery.
“It’s exciting,” said Colborne, who was questionable to suit up against Edmonton on Monday. “It’s a false start there. I thought I was going in the last game there. They wanted to give it a few more days. It’s fun, I’ve got some history with going to [the University of Denver]. I’ll have some friends in the stands. I’m just excited to play. It’s tough to watch from up top. A lot of excitement.”
In his second season with the Flames, Colborne had eight goals and 28 points while limited to 64 games.
Jooris, a rookie last season, had 12 goals and 24 points in 60 games.
Like Colborne, he’s excited to get back in the swing of things.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Jooris said. “This is the fun time of the year. You’ve been chomping at the bit to get into some game action not against your teammates. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s the start of another year. The wrist is 100 percent, so I’m feeling really good. I’m just anxious to get into game action, there’s no problems with it.”
ON THE MEND
While Calgary didn’t get favourable news in finding out TJ Brodie would miss 3-to-6 weeks with a broken bone in his hand, others are on the mend.
Paul Byron, another who had offseason wrist surgery, is expected to return to game action on the weekend, while Ladislav Smid has been cleared for light contact in practice. Smid underwent surgery on his neck last January and hasn’t played since.
“Paul is quite close,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We should see him in the next couple of games. Smid, I don’t think he is going to play in any of the exhibition games. He’s cleared for practice, but we are kind of gentle with him. While he wants to run the others, we don’t want the others to run him. That’s Smid. He’s doing great, he’s in great shape, but he’s not cleared for full contact yet.”
Goaltender Jon Gillies, under concussion protocol, is also progressing.