Defenceman Mark Pysyk jumped into the Edmonton Oil Kings lineup last season as a 15-year-old and was put in every situation during his 14-game call-up, including running the team's power play.
There's no reason why he can't do the same in his first opportunity to play full-time this season, but the Sherwood Park product is taking the smart route, taking what's given to him and not taking anything for granted.
"This is for real now," said Pysyk. "I got lots of ice time last year. I got lots of special teams play here because there were tons of injuries. But this year, at least early on, I might not see as much ice time and I am taking the approach of walking before I run."
Pysyk spent all of last season fine tuning his game for this very moment of making the Oil Kings as a 16-year-old. His year has come, and so far through three days of rookie camp and yesterday's start of main camp, he's arrived in a big way.
The Oil Kings first-ever Western Hockey League bantam draft pick was magnificent last season. He was the youngest player on the Oil Kings defence corps during his brief stint, but at times he looked like a proven veteran. At times last season, he was quarterbacking the Oil Kings power play.
"The 14 games helped him, but he's a mature kid who doesn't take anything for granted," said Oil Kings general manager Bob Green.
"Watching him this morning in practice, you could see it was easy for him to make the transition to play with the older guys in practice. We'll just watch and see how he progresses, but he's done very well."
Pysyk is considered a lock to start the season with the Oil Kings. During his 14-game call-up last season, Pysyk scored one goal and added two assists.
The future certainly looks bright, but the Oil Kings aren't about to rush him into a situation they feel he can't handle.
"Mark's got to dictate that. I am not going to come into camp and say Mark has to be the second or third guy (on the depth chart)," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau.
"Mark will show us where he belongs, and if that's a four or five guy, that's where he'll be. But from what he's shown so far in camp, he's a guy that we feel could play in every situation for us this year."