He is a determined young defenceman. He can make a mistake and still recover because of his skating ability. It’s those second and third efforts that impress me the most. - Tod Button
CALGARY, AB -- Having gone through the whole rigmarole of Calgary Flames development camp not once, not twice but three times, Brandon Hickey brought a calm, cool and collected game to this year’s installment.
“I felt a lot more comfortable this year,” declared the 20-year-old Boston University blueliner, Calgary’s third round, 64th overall, selection in 2014. “Just knowing the guys who have been through this experience with me the last three summers made it a lot more fun. I was able to go out there without any worries and just focus on working hard and having fun playing hockey.”
With that confidence and poise, it’s no wonder the Leduc, AB native became the first collegiate player to secure a spot on Canada’s World Junior roster since Jaden Schwartz in 2012.
The rearguard with the smooth, effortless stride commanded attention each time he stepped foot on ice.
In fact, it was more like pedal to the metal with no signs of easing up.
“I came to camp looking to make a good impression,” simply stated the former Spruce Grove Saints standout.
“He’s looking like a man,” an impressed Flames GM Brad Treliving said of his promising defensive prospect, who has packed on 25 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame in two short years. “He is a good example of a player who was drafted a couple years ago that continues to show steady improvement each time we see him.”
Not to mention one year wiser.
“The sky is the limit for him,” Treliving said. “It’s only July, so you have to be careful about leaving here all jacked up about somebody, but we were really happy with Brandon’s game. He is one of those young players that just gets it.”
“He is a determined young defenceman,” added an equally impressed Flames director of scouting Tod Button. “He can make a mistake and still recover because of his skating ability. It’s those second and third efforts that impress me the most.”
There were rampant rumors that Hickey was willing to depart BU prematurely this past spring for an opportunity at a Memorial Cup run with the host Red Deer Rebels, who had acquired his Canadian Hockey League rights from Tri-City.
Hickey quickly quashed those rumors when he continued to chip away at his studies.
“I’m not sure how that all started,” he said. “I heard all about those rumors, but I love school so much that I’ve never even thought about leaving.”
Now, mind you, if the Flames were to come calling…
“I still want to earn my degree, but luckily I’m at a point with my schooling where it can still happen by taking classes online or through the summer like I am now,” Hickey said. “I’m able to keep my options open if that opportunity ever presented itself.
“But,” he continued, “I would be happy either way. I’m comfortable staying at BU with the coaching staff and everything else that’s going on there.”
And, really, you can’t blame him.
With no less than six recruits selected at last month’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, including four first round picks in Clayton Keller (Arizona), Charlie McAvoy (Boston), Dante Fabbro (Nashville) and Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders), Hickey's Terriers appear on course to capture their second Hockey East title in three seasons.
“It should be an exciting year,” said Hickey, who has already seized one Hockey East championship in Beantown while playing alongside phenom Jack Eichel as a freshman in 2015. “We have a good group coming back, and lots of talent coming in to fill the holes the seniors have left, so it’s a perfect scenario.
“We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
The same could be said about his own game.