Rangers prospect Adam Tambellini admitted there was an adjustment period early on in his first season with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League following two seasons with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
"I think it was a good first year," Tambellini told BlueshirtsUnited.com Thursday at Prospect Development Camp. "I think every time you move up to a league, it comes with more speed and obviously older guys. Stronger, better, quicker guys as well. For me, it was a little bit of an adjustment to find that area of my game that I excel in, and once I got that going - I was able to play with some pretty good players too - it made it easier. It was a fun year."
After scoring 47 goals in 2014-15 with the Hitmen, Tambellini - like any player his age - had to adjust to not being as offensively dominant as he had been in junior. He credited his linemates and Hartford's older players for making the transition a rather smooth one.
"There's definitely an adjustment period," said Tambellini, who finished the season with 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in 74 games. "I don't know how long it is. You're playing different guys every night and every game is different, but our older guys did an unbelievable job taking care of us young guys, helping us cope with our problems and what was going on on the ice, and that really helped us feel comfortable and made us play better as well."
Tambellini said he played the majority of the second-half of the season with Chad Nehring and Jayson Megna, and the trio "gelled" as the season progressed.
The Wolf Pack finished the regular season strong, but ultimately fell just short of a playoff spot. But despite the result, Tambellini said playing in those types of games down the stretch was huge for a guy his age.
"That was fun. Playing in those playoff-style games down the stretch of the year was awesome for me," Tambellini said. "Even though we didn't make the playoffs, it was good to be in those meaningful games at the end of the year. We went on a great run and just missed it by I think one win. We had a great end of the year and we really couldn't have done better at the end of the year and we came out on a little bit of a high."
Now the focus for Tambellini shifts to a strong prospect camp followed by main camp in September. Three years removed from being taken in the third-round of 2013 draft and with a year of pro under his belt, Tambellini said this year feels a bit different because he could be in contention for a roster spot.
"It's a big year for me and a lot of other guys in Hartford as well," Tambellini said. "I'm just trying to play my style of game and hopefully that works out well for me at camp."