Cale Fleury won a bet on Saturday morning.
In a friendly wager with his family, the Kootenay Ice captain predicted that he would be drafted by the Montreal Canadiens at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
He admits that he might have had some insider information.
“I kind of had a gut feeling it would be them,” he told the Townsman on Monday. “I had a good meeting with them [at the combine].”
It’s been a long journey for the 18-year-old defenceman. With a late 1998 birthday, Fleury has been on the radar of NHL scouts for a long time.
— Cale Fleury (@CJF_98) June 25, 2017
“It was a relief, honestly, [I’ve] been looking forward to it for the last two seasons,” Fleury said, “Every possible team was going through my mind when I sitting there. I was happy with Montreal [though].”
Fleury travelled to the event, which was held at the United Centre in Chicago, Illinois, on June 23 and 24, from his home in Calgary with his family.
Along with his parents, his older brother Haydn was there by his side. Cale had previously accompanied him when he was drafted seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2014.
— Haydn Fleury (@fleury96) June 24, 2017
Kootenay Ice owners Matt Cockell and Greg Fettes were also at the United Centre, along with head coach James Patrick and assistant coach Gordon Burnett, making it a very special day for Fleury.
— Sandy Fleury (@SandyFleury) June 24, 2017
“It was really exciting [especially to go to a team like Montreal], with the history that they have,” Fleury said. “[They’re] an original six team [and have] a lot of Stanley Cups [so] I’m honoured to be a part of it.”
After getting to don a Canadiens jersey and hat, and survive a media gauntlet, Fleury met with his new team’s brass.
“I met all their player development guys and got to know them a little better,” he said. “GM [Marc Bergevin] said, basically, I won’t be seeing the scouts anymore, they’re huge on player development and they want to make sure that I get the best help that I can get.”
Fleury’s journey will start almost immediately, as he will leave for the Canadiens development camp in Montreal on Thursday. The camp will bring together prospects, free agents and others on a tryout basis for a week of fitness testing, practice and scrimmages.
Fleury also expects to go to the Canadiens main training camp at the end of the summer and is looking forward to bringing back plenty of guidance to the Ice next season.
“I [hope I] can take my experience and help out some of the younger guys that will be going through it next year and the year after that,” he said.
When asked who he might be starstruck by in Montreal, the choice was obvious.
“Being a defenceman, [it’s got to be] Shea Weber,” Fleury said. “I’ve watched him since I was little [and] he’s been a great defenceman for a really long time.”
As for his advice for future Kootenay NHL prospects, Fleury said to “try not to be too nervous”.
“You only get drafted once [so] just take it in and enjoy it.”
Fleury led all Ice defenceman in points last season, putting up 11 goals and 27 assists in 70 games. He was also named the team’s captain in January and participated at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game for Team Cherry in Quebec City.
Fleury was joined by teammate Brett Davis as the first players drafted from the franchise since 2014. Davis was selected by the Dallas Stars in the sixth round but did not attend the draft in person.