For the second consecutive off-season, defenceman Brayden Pachal’s play earned himself an invitation to a NHL development camp.
After joining Parker Kelly at the Ottawa Senators’ development camp last year, Pachal stayed in Western Canada with the Calgary Flames earlier this month.
The Estevan product said he didn’t know what to expect from Ottawa’s camp last season, heading to the nation’s capital last June. Instead, he focused on soaking up the experience with the Senators to learn about the fitness testing, on-ice activities, and off-ice preparations.
Pachal was more comfortable heading into Calgary’s camp with one already under his belt. Plus, he was joining good friend, former Victoria Royals teammate, and Flames signee Matthew Phillips.
“It gives you a little bit more confidence,” Pachal said. “Off-ice stuff, I’ve been working really hard this summer. I wasn’t too nervous going into that. I knew that I’d perform well in the off-ice stuff. On-ice stuff, you’ve just got to know that you’re there for a reason. You just have to be comfortable out there and play to your ability.”
The major difference between the two camps for Pachal was the length. Ottawa’s was longer, which gave the players a couple days off. Calgary’s was shorter, which provide longer and more demanding days. It also required information to be digested in a short amount of time.
During the camp, Pachal said he didn’t feel much pressure as a free agent invitee. He wanted to perform to the best of his abilities, work hard, and take everything in. Heading into the camp, his goal was to earn a spot in the Flames’ rookie camp in the fall and left with a good feeling following his exit meeting.
“There’s a lot of great hockey minds there and they’ve got a lot of information for you,” Pachal explained. “Going in with no real expectations but at the same time with a goal set in mind, I think I played well. In my exit meetings, they told me I made an impression. An opportunity is something everyone looks for and I think I’ve got one here.”
In those meetings, Pachal was left with skill work as an area to improve. He noted he was close to all of the Flames’ standards for off-ice workouts.
They wanted me to keep working on explosiveness and power and quickness because if you want to play at that pro level and get to that level, that’s what all those guys have and it’s a lot quicker and fast pace.”
With another development camp experience in his pocked, Pachal is ready and excited to return to Prince Albert for another season patrolling the blue line. He has been a standout with the Raiders since being acquired from the Royals at the 2017 WHL Trade Deadline, scoring 10 goals and adding 28 assists in 98 games played in P.A. He was named an alternate captain for the previous season.
“I think there’s a lot of expectations,” Pachal noted. “We had a good run there in the playoffs and we fell a bit short, but we learned a lot in that little run we had. I think that going into this season we should be thinking we’re a frontrunner. I think we should set our expectations high and go as best as we can.”
When he’s away from training, Pachal has spending his time on the golf course like many other hockey players. He’s been hitting the links with this father, who recently retired. Last week, Kelly said he was the best golfer on the Raiders, with Pachal a close second. When asked about Kelly’s claim to being the top golfer on the Raiders, Pachal chuckled.
“If he thinks he’s better than me, I guess we’ll see at the golf tournament. He didn’t beat me once last year,” Pachal laughed. “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
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