July 9, 2011
Canada calling on Holland
By Steve Macfarlane, QMI Agency
The call was a little confusing at first.
But Patrick Holland wasn’t expecting it, so his disorientation was understandable.
“I had no idea that was coming,” the 19-year-old Flames prospect said of the invitation to Team Canada’s world junior orientation camp next month, which came from Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
“I picked up the phone and asked him if I got traded to Kelowna.
“He said, ‘No, I’m the assistant coach to Team Canada. I said, ‘Why are you calling me? What happened?’ ”
What happened was a 22-goal, 62-point season with the Tri City Americans, which caught the eyes of the Hockey Canada braintrust.
Used along with Justin Feser in a shut-down role against other Western Hockey League teams’ top lines, the Lethbridge product made the Flames look smart for selecting him in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The draft did a lot for his confidence, as did the rookie tournament with the Flames in Penticton last summer before his WHL season started.
Getting a call from Huska and being asked to join the country’s elite youngsters could have that same effect this year.
“It’s kind of the same idea as being drafted. It’s a confidence booster, but you still have to move forward,” Holland said at the Don Hartman Northeast Sportsplex, where the Flames summer development camp wrapped up Friday.
“You can’t settle. It’s a stepping stone that gives you confidence and a chance to play with elite players.
“I guess all I can really do is take as much out of it as I can — go into my WHL season and just bring the best I can to my team.”
Some, including himself, view Holland as a longshot to make the team.
But the dream to play in the world junior tournament in his home province is still much alive. The 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships are slated for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton.
“It’s really cool — I would love to be on that team,” Holland said, adding he’s heard they’re looking at him for a fourth-line, penalty-killing slot.
“I’d probably one of the bottom guys on the team in the type of role they’re looking at for me.
“I’d accept that role, for sure. I just have to go into the camp and show them I can be one of the best players at that camp in that role.”
Holland’s stock, however, has always been an upward arrow. He was a sixth-round selection into the WHL but has produced at a pace worth of a much-higher pick.
“It’s weird. I can look down the draft list and kind of see that I’m ahead of a lot of those players,” Holland said. “But it doesn’t mean much.”
Until he makes it into the professional ranks, the fact he seems to be evolving at a rate much faster than so many of the nearly 200 kids picked ahead of him last summer is fairly meaningless as well.
But it does offer hope the Flames are turning a late-round pick into a possible player of the future.
“It’s kind of cool,” Holland added, “to look down that list, too.”