Despite not being drafted by a National Hockey League team, Ryan Wilson didn’t let that affect his style of play.
All Wilson did in his final two seasons with the Sarnia Sting was lead Ontario Hockey League defencemen in scoring both years.
“It just made me realize that I needed to do a lot more work for my game and I had to go out there and have better years every year and just keep moving along,” said Wilson of not hearing his named called at the annual NHL Entry Draft.
On Canada Day, the Calgary Flames rewarded Wilson for his efforts by signing him to a contract.
“It was a great feeling,” Wilson said. “I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. It just took a little longer than I had hoped, but it was an awesome feeling staying in Canada and with such a great organization.”
This week, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound blueliner is taking part in the Flames development camp for 30 prospects at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
“I just want to work hard and get used to everything around here and just keep playing as hard as I can and hopefully I get some good feedback,” said Wilson, who served as captain of the Sting for the past two seasons during which he recorded 75 and 71 points respectively. “I played with a good team and I had a lot of good players around me like Steve Stamkos. Obviously his name speaks for itself. He had a lot of goals where I just gave him the puck and he did everything.”
In preparation for the development camp, Wilson worked out in his hometown of Windsor and skated two to three times a week with a group of professional players that included Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars.
“He just keeps giving me tips about coming to camps and stuff like that,” Wilson said. “He’s a really nice guy. He works extremely hard. He’s in your face all the time. Even when he’s playing pickup, he’s all for one out there and he just goes hard.”
While the Flames have considerable depth on defence, Wilson wants to make an impression at any camp he attends in an effort to earn himself a spot on the roster of the Quad City Flames of the American Hockey League.
“Here I’m just trying to make and impression, make sure I get a spot and see where it goes from there,” he said. “It’s going to be a big adjustment period. Even out there today, I learned a bunch of little things. You’ve got to take all those things into consideration and put it towards your game and hopefully become a better player.”
Like the other prospects at the development camp, Wilson is trying to make as good an impression as he can on the coaching staff.
“I just want to keep improving every day and take what I get from any time I’m here and just bring it back to my game and hopefully some day I’ll play for the Flames,” said Wilson, who’s looking forward to his first season of playing professional hockey.
“You’re playing against elite players now. You’re playing against older guys … men. You’ve just got to make sure you’re in good enough shape to keep up and make sure your game stays sharp.”