Kootenay Ice captain Cale Fleury adjusts his elbow pad in a game during the 2016-17 season.

Kootenay Ice captain Cale Fleury adjusts his elbow pad in a game during the 2016-17 season.

Cale Fleury eagerly awaiting NHL Draft in June

Kootenay Ice captain set to ‘think about draft every day’ now that off-season has commenced, aims to improve skating for fall.

Cale Fleury has spent the entire year trying not to be distracted by this summer. Now, he’s ready to let the excitement consume him.

The 18-year-old Kootenay Ice captain is eligible for this year’s National Hockey League Entry Draft, and is expected to go somewhere around the third round.

While the circus of scouts interviewing him after almost every game this season could sometimes be overwhelming, Fleury now has the June 23 weekend as his main priority.

“It’s [starting to feel more real] for sure,” Fleury said. “I just have to work that into my routine this summer, just preparing for [the draft] every day …  I’m going to be thinking about it every day.”

Before he begins training, however, Fleury is taking a couple weeks to rest, reflect on his season, and spend time with his family.

Although the Ice finished in last place in the WHL, Fleury achieved all his personal goals, including being named to the CHL Top Prospects Game in January, on top of finishing the year as the team’s top defenceman with 11 goals and 27 assists in 70 games.

“I’m taking a couple of weeks off at the start, just to rest,” Fleury said, explaining that for the first week he was going to watch his brother, Hayden, play for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers in North Carolina. “I’ll be watching them and playing a little bit of golf.”

Hayden, who is two years older than Cale, was drafted seventh overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. In his first full season with the Checkers, he has 21 points in 58 games as a rookie defenceman.

After that experience, Fleury will get right back to work in order to ensure he’ll be following in his brother’s footsteps in the near future.

“I’ll [be] working out at a school outside Calgary with my trainers, to get all around more conditioning and better in strength,” Fleury said. “We start skating towards the end of the summer, with skills stuff and power skating.

“I’m going to try and improve my skating this summer. I think that’s an area I can work on.”

As for the draft in June, Fleury will be making the trip to Chicago with his family and has a hard time even finding the words to describe what it means to him.

“I know a lot of guys say this, but it’s surreal,” he said. “A lot of people use that word, but it’s a perfect way to describe it.”

Getting the chance to emulate his brother, once again, makes it even more special.

“I’ve always looked up to him and been a couple of years behind him my whole life,” Fleury said. “I’ve been following in his footsteps from the WHL, the school we went to in Notre Dame, it’s kind of neat to be able to follow him into this too.”

Fleury is ranked 74th amongst North American Skaters in the NHL’s latest Draft Prospects Rankings and was 59th overall on TSN analyst Craig Button’s latest list.

Kootenay Ice forward Brett Davis is also listed as a prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft, ranked 142nd amongst North American Skaters by the league.