This is a great place to learn what their expectations are as an organization. This is a unique experience that not everyone gets to experience so I’m just trying to take it all in. - Brett Pollock
CALGARY, AB -- Battle of Alberta.
Those three words instantly crossed Brett Pollock’s mind when first learning his rights had been acquired by the Calgary Flames from the Dallas Stars at this past season’s NHL trade deadline.
No extra motivation has been needed ever since for the 20-year-old Sherwood Park native, who is participating this week in his first Flames development camp.
Yearning to be part of the intense provincial rivalry, Pollock is out to prove he wasn’t just a package throw-in in the deal that also saw Finnish defenceman Jyrki Jokipakka land in Calgary in exchange for rearguard Kris Russell.
“I’m honoured to be here,” said the big winger with an even bigger shot, following a physical, high-paced first on-ice session. “It’s been competitive, but that’s what you want it to be. It’s fast, fun hockey and everyone is excited to be out there.
“First, you soak everything in. After that, it’s about leaving them with a difficult decision to make come fall.”
That shouldn’t be a problem if he can translate his offensive game from the junior ranks to pro.
A second round, 45th overall, selection of Dallas at the 2014 NHL Draft, the 6-foot-3, 197-pound winger led the Edmonton Oil Kings in scoring for a second straight season with a career-high 78 points and a plus-21 rating.
Despite having one year of junior eligibility remaining, Pollock will likely conclude his WHL tenure fifth on the Oil Kings’ all-time points list with 199.
A prosperous junior career to be sure.
His 2014 Chynoweth Cup and Memorial Cup rings are evidence of that.
But now it’s about looking ahead.
“This is a great place to learn what their expectations are as an organization,” said Pollock, who racked up a whopping 21 multi-point games last season in the provincial capital. “This is a unique experience that not everyone gets to experience so I’m just trying to take it all in.”
Flames brass foresees the hulking forward’s versatility and scoring ability nicely fitting in down the road.
Big wingers who can hammer in the puck with regularity don’t come around too often after all.
Especially one already signed, sealed and delivered.
“We were excited that he was part of the deal,” said Flames GM Brad Treliving.
“Our guys here really liked him in his draft year. He’s a big body that can play centre or the wing, and he’s got a knack for scoring. Big guys that can shoot the puck in the net are important.”
And the hopeful can certainly rifle the rubber.
“I like to have the puck on my stick,” proclaimed Pollock, a proven goal scorer who potted a combined 62 goals over his last two seasons as an Oil King. “I have a pretty good shot and good vision so I like to shoot the puck. I’m more of a skilled forward that likes to use my size down low and take the puck to the net.”
Aside from a three-game cup of coffee at the tail end of last season with Calgary’s American Hockey League affiliate in Stockton – where he netted his first professional goal no less – this is Pollock’s first opportunity to become acquainted with the Flames organization.
He likes what he sees.
“It’s a great organization that I can’t say enough about,” he said. “I had never been traded so that was definitely a different experience, but I’m happy that it was Calgary and that it worked out the way it did.”
Like most wide-eyed Flames prospects that he is sharing the ice with this week, which includes fellow Albertans and first-time campers Dillon Dubé and Matthew Phillips, Pollock recognizes this is merely step one on the professional ladder.
“My goal is to play in the NHL, but everyone develops differently and I have to be realistic,” he said. “Hopefully for me I’ll be in the American Hockey League next season, or for however long it takes, and from there make the jump.”