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A season of transition

Prospect Jordy Stallard reflects on a season that started in Calgary, and finished in Prince Albert

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / http://winnipegjets.com

January 10, 2017 will stick with Jordy Stallard for a while.

The Winnipeg Jets prospect, selected 127th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, was sleeping in a hotel room in Saskatoon. His Calgary Hitmen were scheduled to take on the Blades that night.

"I got woken up by our coach in the morning," Stallard said, recalling the day. "I was told to go see my manager on the top floor there, and I guess I kind of knew it was coming, and they told me I was traded to Prince Albert."

The Brandon, MB native, now 19-years-old, had been with the Hitmen since he was 17. All of that was about to change.

"At the start it was kind of a shock," he said. "I wasn't really expecting anything, so it took a couple days to settle in, but I think I'm making the best of my time here, and hopefully I can make the best of the future."

Stallard certainly made the best of it early on. In his first eight games with the Prince Albert Raiders, Stallard scored six times and racked up 10 points. He had never been a point-per-game player in Calgary - recording 27 points in 32 games this season before the trade - but says he's on the ice in more situations with Prince Albert.

"I've actually been taking on more of a role here, and I think it has been good for me," he said. "I've been starting on the power play unit, and I've been able to play PK, which I didn't get all that in Calgary. I think it's really good for my progress as a player and moving forward in the next step of my career."

That next step was halted only 12 days later, when Stallard was forced to leave a game on Jan. 22 against his former club. Stallard had injured his shoulder, and needed season ending surgery.

"It was pretty disappointing but that being said, I have to focus on rehab now and focus on getting better for next season," Stallard told panow.com shortly after his surgery.

"The surgery went perfect. It went really well, but obviously I'm pretty sore right now. I'm probably going to be slinged up for about three weeks here, but I'll jump into rehab as soon as I can."

His injury has given him time to reflect on the ride his career has been so far. It began in one of the many rinks back home in Brandon. Stallard played in the Wheat City his whole life, starting in the Timbits hockey jersey that is all to familiar to minor hockey players and parents alike.

"When I was in bantam I got drafted to Calgary, and I still wasn't sure if I wanted to take the WHL route, but then after my second year of midget, they offered to sign me," Stallard said. "It was always a dream to play in the WHL, so I just went with it and ended up playing in Calgary as a 17-year-old.

"It was quite an adjustment. Just the speed, and the passing. It was really good."

In his first WHL season, Stallard lit the lamp six times, and finished with 26 points. He gained playoff experience that season as well, playing in 17 games and adding eight more points.

The 49 points he put up in 2015-2016 were enough to catch the eye of Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his scouting staff.

"He's a good local kid. I had a good opportunity to talk with him on the phone. He's extremely excited to be drafted by the Jets," Cheveldayoff said at the NHL Draft in Buffalo. "He's a player we're going to look to continue to develop. Good size, good speed, rangy type kid."

Stallard remembers that phone call well. He described it as a "surreal" experience.

"Ever since the Jets came back to Winnipeg, I got to see some games there," he said. "I've always been a Jets fan. Being able to be drafted by them was an unbelievable experience. I couldn't have asked for anybody else."

He didn't have to wait long to put on the jersey of the team he had cheered at MTS Centre, either. After the week-long development camp in July, Stallard was part of the group that went to Penticton, British Columbia for the annual Young Stars Classic.

"One of the biggest things I took from that was the speed of the game, and how professional it is, and how serious everyone takes it," said Stallard. "Just being able to look at it from that point of view, it was definitely an eye opener, and I know there are a lot of parts of my game I need to work on. Just to see that, and play with top end guys, that helped out a lot."

Now the work continues for Stallard. He knows if he wants to make wearing that Jets jersey a regular part of his career, there are parts of his game to improve.

"Mostly getting faster, with my speed and getting stronger, and working on my balance in the corner," he said. "Obviously if you can't do that, you can't play at the next level."

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