No matter where I play there’s motivation to play well and be at my best. When you know the Calgary Flames are right next door, it might add that little extra (motivation). - Keegan Kanzig
CALGARY, AB -- Standing at a hulking 6-foot-7, 242-pounds of pure muscle, Keegan Kanzig shouldn’t have much trouble dragging his gear about 100-feet down the hall for NHL training camp.
Late Wednesday evening, the Calgary Flames third round pick at the 2013 NHL Draft discovered that he’ll likely be playing out his junior hockey career in the same building as the team that drafted him as a member of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.
“No matter where I play there’s motivation to play well and be at my best,” Kanzig said in a large media scrum, which immediately greeted the defenceman at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday. “When you know the Calgary Flames are right next door, it might add that little extra (motivation).”
Prior to Wednesday’s deal, Kanzig played all 217 games of his WHL career with the Victoria Royals before he was dealt to the Hitmen in exchange for Edmonton Oilers prospect Greg Chase and a second round 2016 Bantam Draft pick.
In four seasons with the Royals, Kanzig has tallied 23 points and 375 penalty minutes.
The Flames inked the 19-year-old blueliner to a three-year entry-level deal on Dec. 12, 2013 after to an impressive training camp with the team.
In addition to his tremendous size, Kanzig possesses a great deal of hockey sense and patience to make the right play.
The product of Athatbasca, AB utilizes his big frame and a little bit of a mean streak to make the slot a difficult place for opponents to be.
“I’m a big guy and I like to use my size to my advantage,” Kanzig said. “I like to play physical, play mean and make simple plays, that’s me.”
After his second training camp with the Flames, Kanzig feels steady in his development.
“Foot movement and tight area mobility was something they wanted me to work on,” Kanzig said of the Flames’ feedback following camp. “Stick positioning and puck handing is another thing. With experience and practice I think that’s coming along as well.”
Playing the game with a bit of an edge, Kanzig is an intimidating presence of the ice, an element of his game that he says comes naturally.
“There’s emotion in the game,” he said. “There’s always something to get you fired up, being mean is just part of that and it’s a way to funnel that emotion.”
Watching from a far in Victoria, Kanzig has been impressed with the Flames performance so far this season.
He’s looking to crack a rebuilding Flames roster, which is so far headed in the right direction.
“It’s something I like to see,” Kanzig said of the 11-7-2 Flames. “I know a lot of the guys playing on the Flames through the last couple of camps and it’s good to see that they’re doing well and having success. It’s exciting for the future.”