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Highly touted free-agent signing eager to play first real game in a Flames jersey - against Oilers team he passed over to ink deal in Calgary

by TY PILSON @typilson /

PENTICTON, B.C. - There's a lot of players to keep an eye on Friday when the Flames Young Stars hit the ice against the Oilers (5 p.m. MTN, live streamed on

Spencer Foo, the Flames highly coveted off-season free-agent acquisition, ranking high among them.

After attending the club's development camp in July and then enjoying - using that word loosely of course - the team's rookie fitness testing Thursday, it's finally time for the touted 23-year-old right-winger to pull on a Flames jersey against somebody in opposing silks.

Of course, the Union College standout - an Edmonton boy - surprised some in the hockey world when instead of signing for the team he grew up cheering for, he chose the Flames as the winners of the Foo Sweepstakes.

He was courted by a bevy of NHL clubs and he eventually whittled his suitors down to a shortlist before committing to the Flames, a deal finalized on July 1.

So with the media crowding around the players after their morning on-ice session Friday, some of the writers from the provincial capital asked Foo the same question again he's been answering for months: why Calgary over Edmonton?

"There's obviously tons of different factors that went into it but at the end of the day, you kind of just got to follow your gut and I picked a team that I think is right on the verge of winning in the future and has a good group of young guys and that I think they saw a lot in me," said Foo. "It just got me excited. That's what my gut feeling went with."

As for getting to pick where he would ink his name, not having that decided courtesy of the annual draft, Foo is cognizant of how lucky he was to be able to do that.

"It's really just a blessing to have that opportunity," he said. "Not a lot of guys get that. To be able to go through that and kind of take your pick of the crop, it's pretty special."

Back to the game at hand Friday, the Hobey Baker Award finalist said the chance to skate with and against the team's best young players at the development camp was a fantastic experience but the players toned it down during games, as per instructions from the brass, not wanting to injure each other.

The annual Young Stars tourney at the south end of Okanagan Lake gives many of the same players the chance to finally play a meaningful game against opponents they don't have to wear the same kid gloves with.

"Ya, I mean I think everybody in the room is excited," said Foo. "Especially the guys that it's going to be their first time out here. I'm just looking forward to being able to throw that jersey on and compete hard.

"That's kind of my game, too," he added. "I feel like I'm worker and a competitor out there and obviously in development camp it's a little lighter, you don't want guys running around. Out here I'm excited to just get into a real game-type situation."

A game against the team he passed over for the Flames in what the club and fans hope will be the first of many Battle of Alberta tilts in his career.

It's certainly been quite the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming-worthy, whirlwind three months for Foo.

"A little bit," he admitted. "I've always seen myself getting to this point but on the other hand it is pretty special. Last year, at this time, I was probably sitting in class right now. I'm just excited to be here and playing hockey."

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