It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling to sign and I’m honoured that they have enough confidence in me to sign. They obviously see some potential in me and it feels good and motivates me to work harder and make sure I don’t let them down and make sure I exceed their expectations - Keegan Kanzig
CALGARY, AB -- Keegan Kanzig feels like he’s one step closer to living out his ultimate dream.
The Calgary Flames locked up their second member of the 2013 NHL Draft class in less than a week, signing Kanzig to a three-year, entry level deal on Thursday after inking first round pick Morgan Klimchuk two days earlier.
Needless to say, Kanzig was excited to put the pen to paper.
“It’s awesome,” the 6-foot-6, 240-pound defenceman said. “It’s a great feeling to sign and I’m honoured that they have enough confidence in me to sign. They obviously see some potential in me and it feels good and motivates me to work harder and make sure I don’t let them down and make sure I exceed their expectations.”
Signing a pact didn’t just match the emotion he felt when the Flames selected Kanzig in the third round, 67th overall of the 2013 NHL Draft last June.
It surpassed it.
Though the draft certainly had a lot of ceremony around it, the Victoria Royals rearguard admitted signing a contract with the Flames was more thrilling to the 18-year-old.
“I think it’s a little more exciting,” Kanzig said. “Both were exceptional feelings but signing brings me that much closer to playing on the roster so I think it’s a little more exciting than being drafted.
“Being drafted is awesome and I couldn’t have chosen a better organization than the Calgary Flames to be drafted by. Signing, there’s not as much hype around it but I think it’s one step closer to make my goal of playing for the Calgary Flames.”
It was difficult for him to believe only six months separate the two events.
Just 172 days passed between draft day and the day the ink dried on Kanzig’s contract.
“When you put it that way, yeah, it has happened pretty quick but I’ve had the season with the Royals in between there,” he said. “I guess it separated the draft and signing a little bit and kind of hasn’t made it seem so close together or that it all hasn’t happened at once.”
Perhaps making the timeline a little cloudier for Kanzig was the fact he spent so much time in Calgary during his first professional training camp.
Kanzig, who is in his third year with the WHL’s Royals, wasn’t among 19 players reassigned back to juniors and the minors when the Flames started making cuts on Sept. 18th. In fact, he survived the next round of cuts on Sept. 25th when six were sent to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL.
He lasted until Sept. 28th, when he was one of 10 blueliners remaining in camp before being assigned back to Victoria.
“My goal going into camp was to stay there the entire year just because I think going into a camp, you have to set a goal like that,” he said. “You can’t go in and set a goal to make it past the first cuts. You have to go in and play like you want a spot on the roster. That was the mindset I tried to keep throughout camp. I can’t say I was surprised but I can’t say I expected to stay that long. I really didn’t know what to expect.”
Kanzig believes his strong camp helped, or at least served as an indication the Flames were interested in getting him under contract.
“I obviously hoped it would happen soon,” he said. “From keeping me around in camp for as long as they did, they showed interest and that had me optimistic about it. I didn’t know anything for sure. I wasn’t relying on it or anything. I was just optimistic and focused on playing the best I could in Victoria and hoping for the best.”
But the best is yet to come for Kanzig, who has now taken one step closer to reaching it.