I just wanted to come here in the best shape I could be and push for a spot. They kind of turned the tides, in a good way, and said, 'We think you're ready for pro.' I'm going to just keep pushing. - Patrick Sieloff
CALGARY, AB -- The smile on Patrick Sieloff's face said it all.
The 19-year-old addressed the media after Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster announced the defenceman would not be returning to junior this year, instead turning pro, and Sieloff appeared to be still be basking in the pleasant turn of events.
"I was surprised, a little bit," he said of getting the news."Physically and mentally, I feel I'm ready but you never know. I had that option to go back to junior.
"I just wanted to come here in the best shape I could be and push for a spot. They kind of turned the tides, in a good way, and said, 'We think you're ready for pro.' I'm going to just keep pushing."
Sieloff, the Flames second round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is eligible to play in the AHL this season due to the fact he was drafted out the USHL, not the CHL. He was originally planning on going to the University of Miami-Ohio from United States National Development Program (USHL) but decided that going to the Windsor Spitfires in the 2012-13 campaign would fast-track his career.
He was limited to 45 games in his first and only OHL season due to being selected for the USA's 2013 World Junior Championship squad and a groin injury but felt the experience in Windsor helped push him to the next level.
"I had a good time last year with them. They taught me a lot," Sieloff said of the general manager Warren Rychel, head coach Bob Boughner and the entire Spitfires organization. "I had a lot of fun with Windsor and a lot of the guys, I'm going to miss.
"At the same time, you go there to get better and move on."
Not only did Sieloff's performance in Calgary's development camp, 2013 Young Stars Classic and the early part of training camp impact the Flames decision - his professionalism off-ice also played a part in their choice.
Sieloff spent a quite a bit of time in Calgary while he was rehabbing his groin injury and was able to get an understanding of what is expected of players at the professional level. Management and the coaching staff have been extremely impressed Sieloff's maturity and the dedication he has shown in his training.
"Patrick was in Calgary working and as a result, he saw what these guys do, how they prepared to be professionals," Feaster explained. "Everything he did from the moment he was rehabbing here right through the summer, he has trained because he wants to be a pro."
Feaster also announced that while Sieloff would be making the jump to the pro ranks this year, the team will release him to USA Hockey if he is selected for the 2014 World Junior Championship team.
"That helps me, I think personally," Sieloff stated. "To get the chance to maybe go back again ... to represent your country is huge.
"To win another gold would be nice."
Now, with the next step of his career set, Sieloff has set his sights on earning a roster spot in Calgary. He knows what he is up against - there are a lot of players hunting for a position on the blueline - but also knows what has got him to this point: hard work.
If he wants to be in Washington with the Flames on Oct. 3 for their season opener, he is going to need to push himself to the max on the ice and in the gym every day.
"Every day I come here (thinking) I'm on the bubble. I know I'm on the bubble. For me, to put in the work, to play my game - I'm hard to play against - the rest is out of my hands."
INJURY NOTE: Earlier in training camp, Sieloff suffered a broken cheekbone but after being evaluated by the team medical staff, he has been cleared to play. He will need to wear full face protection for 6-8 weeks.