ST. PAUL -- When goaltender Adam Vay arrived at Xcel Energy Center last summer for his first Development Camp, he was amongst a group of netminders that featured a pair of draft picks.
Newly signed and coming off a season in the the Western States Hockey League, little was known about the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder. Big and incredibly athletic, Vay was also incredibly raw.
"There was a little bit of a lack of mileage, and a lack of playing against really high-level athletes," said Frederic Chabot, the Wild's goaltending development coach. "He has fantastic physical abilities, but a little lack of mileage."
After stealing the show on several occasions in his first camp, Vay returns to St. Paul this week the veteran of his position group. Unlike last year, when he was one of a handful of drafted or signed players, Vay is the only goaltender at the Wild's 2017 Development Camp that is property of the organization itself.
He's also coming off his first year of professional hockey, one spent with the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL. Vay played in 39 games, posting a 3.03 goals against average and a .900 save percentage.
But it wasn't his first pro victory, it wasn't one of his three shutouts and it wasn't his first pro fight, one that attracted the attention of the hockey community at large, that he said was the highlight of his first year.
"I got to practice every day," Vay said. "I got to be on the ice and give 100 percent. It was a really good season."
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Vay's English has made significant strides since last year's camp. So has his game. While there were some bad habits to iron out over the first couple of months of the season, Chabot said Vay's game took off around Christmas.
"He worked really hard, but it didn't pay off right away," Chabot said. "But once December ended and January came around, things really fell into place. He had a really good second half and [I hope] he keeps that going right now."
Vay said he wants to take the things he learned from Chabot during the season and apply them at camp. He set one goal for his week in St. Paul, and despite the fact that it's unattainable, it shows where he is mentally and from a confidence standpoint.
"My goal this week is to stop every puck," Vay said. "My second goal is to make everything right, everything I just did last year and show the [coaching staff] I'm more calm, more quiet."
Chabot said after one day, he can already notice a more patient goaltender.
While he spent his first camp last summer running a million miles per hour -- a phenomenon not unique for first-time campers -- Vay boasts a calmness in his game and his personality he didn't have a year ago.
"He really showed [Saturday] in all the shooting drills, he was really sharp," Chabot said. "He was really sharp against the shooters and not giving them much to shoot at, making sure he's got his angles and letting the play come to him. It was good to see and fun to see."
"I'm more comfortable and more patient," Vay said. "I feel like I can be more focused."
Vay also said he's not looking beyond this week. He simply wants to show up and do his best at camp, then worry about whatever is next afterward.
"I'm not thinking too much. If I'm not thinking, I can make a good practice," Vay said. "I'm just trying to be here [mentally], in my brain, to be here. I have time for looking forward."
In terms of what could be next for Vay, the organization doesn't have a clear plan for that yet. The club re-signed Alex Stalock last spring and agreed to terms with Niklas Svedberg on July 1; those two will compete for duties behind Devan Dubnyk at the NHL level. Whoever doesn't win that battle will see time with Steve Michalek in Iowa.
That means Vay could continue to refine his game with Quad City, but a move up to Iowa for playing time there could definitely be in the cards, especially if he continues to play like he did at the end of last season.
"Being a good pro is being consistent in the things you do well, doing them again and again and again," Chabot said. "He has to find a way to be able to build bigger, longer streaks where things go well and finding ways to be more steady and consistent inside a game.
"If he can do that, and I think he will, then he's going to build consistency and confidence ... the sky is the limit."