SUN Hockey Pool

Nilson's 'ready right now'

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Among the 40-some youngsters hoping to eventually earn a NHL job with the Flames, one player stood out yesterday at the Don Hartman Northeast Sportsplex.

Marcus Nilson, who'd suffered a season-ending knee injury March 26, was back on ice yesterday for the first time.

The forward came to Calgary from Sweden to be fitted for a custom brace he'll need to wear -- as well as enjoy some of the Calgary Stampede -- and said he expects to be just fine when training camp opens in September.

"It feels great. Almost better than I thought and the brace felt really good," he reported. "I'll be ready (for training camp).

"I'm ready right now. I'll be good."

Nilson, who'd had a ironman streak of 219 games -- it would have been 365 had he not been handed a one-game suspension -- snapped earlier in the season, missed the final 11 games and the playoffs.

Through his 70 contests, he collected six goals and 11 assists, disappointing offensive numbers, but did post a team-best plus-13 rating.

During his career, the former Florida Panthers first-round draft choice has scored 59 goals, 89 assists and 239 penalty minutes in 411 games.

Nilson will head into the coming season in the final year of a contract that will pay him $1.368 million US.

Obviously, it felt great to get back on the ice.

"I had to wait until I got that brace. I've been able to do my workouts and the summer's been good," he said.

"I never start skating before this anyway. We don't have ice back home in July. Ice comes on Aug. 1."

A pair of ligaments were torn in his left knee after an accidental knee-on-knee hit from Dallas forward Brenden Morrow. Fortunately, Nilson didn't need surgery, which would have meant a longer recovery.

He even was able to joke about not losing any speed due to the malady or being forced to wear a brace.

"That's a good thing when you don't have speed, you don't lose it," he laughed.


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