Forward Gabriel Fontaine went into the season with the mindset of rounding out his game and taking on a larger role with his junior club, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior League.
"I wanted to be a more major player," Fontaine told NYRangers.com after Thursday's scrimmage at prospect development camp. "The organization told me at the beginning of the year to become a more major player, to do things more by myself and to have more of a leadership role with the younger guys. I worked a bit on that."
Fontaine, 20, who the Rangers selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, notched 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points in 59 games with the Huskies last season. He added six goals and five helpers in 13 postseason games.
The Sherbrooke, Quebec-native turned heads with a tally this season that was voted by the fans as the most beautiful goal of the season. He went coast-to-coast eluding several defenders before going five-hole.
"I don't know what I did exactly," Fontaine said with a smile. "I just put the puck through my legs and I fell on the ground and shot five-hole."
Adam Graves said Fontaine's strong two-way game should allow Fontaine to "excel in the pro game." When given that scouting report, Fontaine smiled and said it was a confidence booster to hear that.
"It gives me confidence. They said if you continue like that you have a good chance to make it through [to pro hockey]," Fontaine said. "It's nice to hear those things from guys who played in the NHL."
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound center said he won't change his summer training regimen as he heads towards his first year of professional hockey after four seasons in the QMJHL. He said he'd like to try and add more size and get a bit stronger to be able to compete better with older players in either the American Hockey League or the ECHL.
Fontaine missed last year's development camp due to injury, so this week has been his first on the ice. He said he's enjoyed the experience, especially being able to meet fellow prospects from around the world.
"It's amazing. We get to know guys from everywhere. From Finland, the American guys," Fontaine said. "It's nice to be surrounded by good players and also this organization. They teach us the way. They show us how to do it. It's fun to be out there."