SKILL IN SPADES
A glance at the Calgary Flames Young Stars roster may lead one to believe not a whole has changed for the club when it comes to offence. 10 of 18 forwards are returning from a year ago and many of them are key players for the team. But according to left winger Lance Bouma
, the biggest change in the team actually comes in the form of offensive prowess.
"We're definitely a bit more skilled," said Bouma. "At the draft, we picked up some really offensive guys and through trades and stuff like that, we added more offensive guys. This year's crew is a bit more skilled and can definitely put the puck in the net."
One of the biggest reasons for this offensive shift is the addition of Sven Baertschi
. The Flames first round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft will undoubtedly draw a lot of attention to himself with his dynamic play.
"He's an outstanding player," said Carter Bancks
. "A young kid, an incredible amount of skill. Plays the game hard too though. He's not shy. He finishes his checks hard. He plays hard. He goes to the net. I'm just really excited about getting to play with him this tournament."
Tonight's game against the Sharks marks the first time Baertschi will don a Flames jersey and it's a moment the 18 year-old will never forget.
"It's special, you know," he said. "It was my dream and now here I am just a couple of hours away from that dream."
Last season, Chris Breen's name was likely passed over by the majority of people attending the Young Stars tournament. An undrafted defenceman signed by the Flames in May of 2010, many thought he'd simply be a role player for the Abbotsford Heat. By the end of his first full AHL season, he was part of the club's top defensive pairing with T.J. Brodie.
"I just worked hard and tried to soak everything in, everything the coaches said, everything I could learn from other teammates," he said. "I worked hard every day and improved as much as I could."
He and Brodie will be the Flames go-to duo on the blueline in Penticton - something Breen couldn't be more pleased with.
"It gives me a good tune-up for main camp," he smiled. "It's great to get back on the ice."
Breen was also quick to mention just how valuable this tournament is the younger guys on the roster and said the experience here in Penticton will make everyone a better player as they enter into the 2011-12 campaign.
"All the young guys, they get to come in and skate with the guys like me, Bancksy and Boomer (Bouma) who have played in the American League level and Booms has played at the NHL level. They get to kind of learn and get used to all the coaching staff, scouting staff and management. It's pretty huge for those guys."
Bouma - Wahl - Nemisz
Baertschi - Horak - Bancks
Holland - Reinhart - Howse
Patterson - Gal - Ferland
Brodie - Breen
Negrin - Jackson
Leach - Martin
OrtioFollow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson