CALGARY, AB --
By all accounts, Christopher Breen
's name shouldn't be where it is on the Calgary Flames depth chart.
After all, a couple of years ago it was thought the 22 year-old undrafted defenceman's ceiling was an AHL blueliner at best.
However, Mark Giordano
was also never drafted by an NHL club and look at how his career has turned out.
Thankfully for the Flames, Breen's career looks like it's on the same upswing Giordano's was years ago. The 6'7 blueliner could be labelled the prototypical late bloomer. Barely garnering a glance during his junior days in the OHL, he's turned more than a few heads during his first full professional season.
"It was huge," he replied when asked about his time with the Abbotsford Heat. "It was a big developmental season for me. The three coaches, they were all great to me. They did a lot for me and I improved a ton I think."
One of the biggest improvements seen in Breen's game has been his transition play. His first pass out of the zone, chip plays and neutral zone coverage are the most drastic changes Breen's made over the past year.
"Little things I've never thought of before. They picked it out and obviously just tell me and get me to work on it after practice and stuff like that."
He's also caught the attention of Flames head coach Brent Sutter. During development camp last week, Sutter singled out Breen as a defenceman he wouldn't be surprised to see patrolling the blueline at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
General manager Jay Feaster has also name-dropped the Uxbridge, ON native on more than one occasion when talking about prospects on the cusp.
"I'm confident that Chris Breen is going to play here," he said at the end of the 2010-11 campaign.
Hearing those kind of comments from Feaster brings an immediate smile to Breen's face.
"He's pretty passionate about (bringing in youth). It's exciting. It's a huge opportunity for me and a lot of the young defence to actually maybe get a chance to step up and show what we're capable of."
Breen will be spending the majority of the summer in Abbotsford training before coming to Calgary for main training camp. His biggest goal this summer is to continue to develop physically.
"I just have to get bigger, stronger and faster the rest of the summer. Get on the ice and keep on improving."
If last year's development was any indication, it shouldn't surprise anyone if Breen makes his NHL debut this season. Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson