SUN Hockey Pool

Future in lineup Boyds well

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

As the only veteran in camp still on a two-way contract, you'd think Dustin Boyd would be a little nervous.

Quite the opposite, actually. The 22-year-old Calgary Flames forward is more calm than ever.

"I'm definitely more relaxed. I'm not as jittery as I was maybe a couple of years ago or even last year," said Boyd, who has 61 NHL games under his belt over two seasons.

"I think if I play well that they're going to keep me regardless. I've just got to go out there and play well, play hard. Definitely, in the pre-season, I've got to score some goals."

With 13 forwards in camp on one-way deals -- 14 if you include the soon-to-be off the books Marcus Nilson -- it stands to reason that barring injuries or a decision to carry a full 23-man roster into the regular-season, something would have to give for the cap-strapped Flames.

Part of the reason Boyd isn't overly concerned is the fact the team told him to start looking at housing in Calgary last Christmas.

He knows that came with no guarantees, though, and is looking forward to making an impact when their exhibition schedule kicks off against the Florida Panthers tomorrow night at the Saddledome.

"I think everyone's in the same boat. Those pre-season games are huge," said Boyd. "You want to go out there and impress. You want to show them you belong here and that you can play, and play lots."

The Winnipegger hasn't played much in the league so far, averaging fewer than 10 minutes per appearance last year, mostly as a part-time checker.

At least one top-six spot is legitimately up for grabs, and Boyd will be competing with the likes of newcomers Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross, and current camp linemate David Moss for the role, not to mention some of the hungry young kids.

Drawing from his past experience, breaking into the Western Hockey League, Boyd says he's dying to make the same progression in the NHL.

"I think anyone would love to be a top-six player. Me, I'd love to be there, too. I've just got to work at it. That's my whole goal is to be an impact player in this league," said Boyd.

"It reminds me a lot of when I came into junior. I didn't play much. I played fourth line for my first two years and I was a checker then, too.

"My role got increased and, by the end, it was awesome.

"Hopefully, I can progress the same here and look for a little bigger role this year -- more goals, more points."

Coming into camp at around 196 lb., a good five or six pounds of muscle tacked onto his 6-foot frame since last season, Boyd is maturing on and off the ice.

If the progression at this level in any way resembles his leaps forward with the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Flames will one day have a steal of a third-round pick from the 2004 draft.

Boyd climbed from 11 goals as a WHL rookie to 18, 26 and then a whopping 48 in his final junior season. His point totals also jumped every year, from 28 to 38, 61 and 90.

Admitting it's not nearly as easy to score in the pros, it's what he's aiming to do.

"I've had a taste the last two years and I know what it takes now.

"For me, I just have to put it all together," said Boyd.

"I've always been able to score goals, it's just the next step to do it at this level on a consistent basis."


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