“They even put us in the same room together,” Fleury said. “We were both a little on edge, we were both restless in the room and getting on each other’s nerves a bit. I think we were both pretty restless and a bit nervous… but I think it really well.”
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While having one teammate come to the Combine provided support for Fleury, it was the exit of another during the season which provided the defenceman with the opportunity to blossom. When Mathew Dumba, the seventh overall pick in 2012 by Minnesota, was traded to the Portland Winterhawks, Fleury seized the chance to play bigger minutes for Red Deer, taking on a larger role that helped his development.
“I think I progressed a lot in my defensive game,” he said. “That’s something I really needed to work on coming into this season. I know I can do all of that stuff offensively, I just wanted to get my game more well-rounded and I think I really accomplished that this year. I got a bigger opportunity with (Dumba) being gone and I really benefited from that.”
Fleury is the ninth-ranked North American skater per NHL Central Scouting, second amongst defencemen. The 6-foot-3, 203 pound blueliner is coming off of a breakout season in which he doubled his point totals from a year ago. He posted 46 points (8-38-46) in 70 games for the WHL's Rebels this season.
Fleury’s NHL connections don’t stop at Dumba. When he was three, his babysitter in Carlyle, SK was Brenden Morrow, winger for the St. Louis Blues. At the time, Morrow was with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL and a first-round pick of the Dallas Stars.
Even though he had a player to root for in Dallas, it was the blue and orange that always had Fleury’s devotion.
“That’s the truth,” he said. “I’ve been an Oilers fan ever since I was a little kid. My dad grew up an Oilers fan so I was born into it.”
The Oilers currently select third overall in the first round of this month’s draft. Fleury is expected to be selected around the 10th pick. But when the Oilers step up to the podium to make their selection, Fleury will be watching intently.
“I think that will be one pick, when they go up on stage, I’ll be a little bit on the edge of my seat. That’s my favourite team growing up so that’d be a really huge honour to get selected by them.”