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Young Stars Classic: Players To Watch

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
SAM BENNETT

#63 - Centre

Drafted: First round (4th overall) in 2014

Notable: Signed a three-year entry level contract on July 25, 2014

2013 first rounder Sean Monahan’s first step in landing a roster spot in Calgary came in Penticton last September and Sam Bennett wants to follow in his footsteps. If Bennett can thrive and prove he’s ahead of other top prospects in the tournament, it will move him one step closer to his ultimate goal of being on the opening night roster.

Bennett, who was selected fourth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, has had a busy off-season. After turning heads at the Flames development camp in July, he attended Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek summer development camp, the NHLPA’s Rookie Showcase, the Kingston Frontenacs training camp, and capped off the summer by training alongside Sidney Crosby in Denver. He’ll be primed and ready to go in Penticton.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can in training camp and do whatever I can to make the team,” Bennett said earlier this summer. “But I have a lot of faith in the Flames organization and I think whatever decision they make is going to be the right one for me.”

JOHNNY GAUDREAU

#53 - Left Wing

Drafted: Fourth round (104th overall) in 2011

Notable: Signed a three-year entry-level contract on Apr. 11, 2014, scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game (Apr. 13, 2014)

Johnny Gaudreau may be paid the most attention out of any prospect participating in the tournament and for good reason. The diminutive winger is coming off quite the season at Boston College; he led the nation in scoring with 80 points in 40 games, won the 2014 Hobey Baker Award, and tied Paul Kariya’s Hockey East record with a 31-game point streak.

There is a definite spotlight on Gaudreau heading into his first professional season but the team is taking it one day at a time with the 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward.

"We have no expectations of John this season," Director of Amateur Scouting Tod Button told NHL.com. "He is such a unique player with his size and skill set, so it's important we let him develop properly and with the right support and structure. We will let his play determine his status. Of course we think very highly of him, but there are still lots of shark-infested waters for him to cross.”

KEEGAN KANZIG

#73 - Defence

Drafted: Third round (67th overall) in 2013

Notable: Signed a three-year entry-level contract on Dec. 19, 2013

Heading into the 2013 training camp, there wasn’t a lot of chatter about defenceman Keegan Kanzig. He had just been drafted earlier that summer and was expected to head back to the Victoria Royals shortly after camp started, just due to inexperience. But he had other plans.

Kanzig survived until the second-last round of cuts, boosting his confidence in the 2013-14 WHL season. He ended up scoring three goals and eight points in 63 regular season games and closed out the campaign with a plus-18 rating.

“Going into camp, the goal was to make the team,” he told CalgaryFlames.com of his first NHL camp experience. “I worked as hard as I could and went as far as I could. It was a great experience. I can’t say I was surprised but I was honoured to spend as much time with the team as I did and learn as much as I did.”

PATRICK SIELOFF

#50 - Defence

Drafted: Second round (42nd overall) in 2012

Notable: Signed a three-year entry-level contract on July 19, 2013

Everyone is thrilled that the season is right around the corner but after missing almost the entire 2013-14 campaign with a staph infection, Patrick Sieloff’s excitement is palatable.

“I can't wait to get the season going,” he told CalgaryFlames.com “I just need to build my confidence back up. My main goal is still to play in the NHL and I think one day I can be there. I just need to keep working at it, every day.”

The Young Stars Classic will be his first opportunity to see how his revamped off-season training regimen has impacted his game.

“I've been working on the little things. I've been getting back to the basic fundamentals while I'm training. I started from rock bottom and have worked my way up, starting from scratch.”

JASON FRAM

#85 - Defence

Attending camp on a try-out agreement

Notable: Has spent three seasons in the WHL, all with the Spokane Chiefs

After the Flames development camp wrapped up, Jason Fram was singled out by general manager Brad Treliving, noting the Spokane Chiefs defenceman would be back at rookie camp thanks to his impressive showing at WinSport.

The 6-foot, 190-pound defenceman boasts a booming right-handed shot and saw his offensive production skyrocket last year, jumping from 15 points in 2012-13 to 57 points in 2013-14. The 19-year-old also registered three assists in four postseason dates this year.

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