If you prefer slapshots and saucer-passes to saddles and spurs, you’ll want to dust off a warm jacket and head over to WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre this week for the Calgary Flames’ annual development camp.
The invite list for the summer get-together includes 20 forwards, 18 defencemen and four netminders, from highly-touted prospects to a bunch of undrafted free agents that are still shooting to make a name for themselves.
Here are five guys we’ll be watching closely …
Goalie, Providence College
Third-round pick of Flames in 2012 NHL Draft
This is Gillies’ fourth trip to development camp in Calgary, but there’s a big difference — this time, he won’t be headed back to school afterward.
The 21-year-old masked-man turned professional just days after backstopping the Providence Friars to an NCAA Championship last spring and was hanging around as a black ace during the Flames playoff run.
The crease in Calgary is already crowded, but Gillies could complicate things even further.
“It’s cool to think that the next step is close. It’s cool to think that you’re on the threshold,” Gillies said. “Now, it’s in my hands. I control my destiny, in that sense. It’s time to be a big boy.”
Defence, AIK (Sweden)
Second-round pick of Flames in 2015 NHL Draft
Kylington was once considered a top-10 prospect for the ’15 NHL Draft, but the smooth-skating blueliner fidgeted through almost two full rounds before the Flames traded up to call his name at No. 60 overall.
A few days later, when Sweden revealed their roster for a world-junior summer evaluation camp, he wasn’t on the list.
We won’t get all the answers this week, but everybody is wondering if Kylington was a steal or if there’s good reason his stock plummeted before the draft.
Another question is where Kylington will skate next season. The 18-year-old has a contract with AIK in Sweden’s second division, but he was selected by the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft and could also be assigned to AHL Stockton.
Left wing, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Sixth-round pick of Flames in 2015 NHL Draft
The most skilled and speedy guys are usually the ones who stick out at these summer sessions. Word is, Mangiapane has oodles of both.
The 19-year-old was one of only nine OHL sharpshooters to collect 100-plus points last season, exclusive company that included lottery-picks Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner.
It’s not often a sixth-round selection arrives to high expectations, but defenceman Rasmus Andersson — Mangiapane’s teammate in Barrie — certainly raised the bar when he suggested the 5-foot-10, 178-lb. winger is “a little bit like Johnny Gaudreau.”
Uh … no pressure, kid.
Left wing, Erie Otters (OHL)
With his last name, you can bet the rest of the hopefuls will also be keeping their heads on a swivel when Marchment is around.
Mason’s dad is retired defenceman Bryan Marchment, who was certainly never mentioned as a Lady Byng candidate during his playing days, racking up 2,307 penalty minutes in 926 NHL contests.
Bryan’s son isn’t exactly a saint, either, as evidenced by his 10-game suspension for a high hit on Marner during the OHL playoffs.
The 20-year-old left-winger — a big boy at 6-foot-4 and 195 lb. — should be on his best behaviour this week as he tries to showcase himself for a contract.
Right wing, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Second-round pick of Flames in 2014 NHL Draft
Smith proudly reports that he made major strides — especially on his skating — this past season.
This week, he gets a chance to prove it.
Fresh off a Memorial Cup celebration with the Generals, the 19-year-old Smith is aiming to play pro next season.
At 6-foot-7 and 220 lb., there’s little doubt he’s physically ready. But what about the rest of the package?
“I just want to show them that my game has progressed from last year and show them that I’ve been working hard,” Smith said. “Hopefully, I can leave this camp and just open their eyes, and they’ll go, ‘Wow, he’s really come a long ways.’ That’s my goal going into this week.”