SUN Hockey Pool

Feisty rookie roles with punches

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Brandon Prust can picture the day when Edmonton Oilers fans hate him.

He's hoping to hear that Vancouver Canucks supporters can't stand him.

It's a badge of honour.

"For sure," said the Flames forward, who's known for his pesky style of game. "That feels good when you're in another city and fans have signs and yell at you. It means you're doing something right, and that's a good thing."

Looks like Prust will have that opportunity. The Flames will unveil their opening-game 23-man roster today -- until then nothing is official -- and the 24-year-old drafted in the third round in 2004 is expected to receive official word he's cracked the squad.

"You don't want to look at it as making the roster. You have to approach it as earning a spot in the lineup every night," Prust said. "I don't want to just be on the team. I want to be effective and want to be in the lineup and play. That's my goal.

"It's good to be here. I'd rather be here than be in the AHL, but I'm looking to come to work every day and make sure I earn it."

The 5-foot-11, 195-lb. winger is the kind of player the Flames haven't had for a few years -- an energetic agitator willing to annoy the other team with feisty play and drop the gloves when necessary.

He knows his role exactly.

"I don't really need them to tell me what they want out of me," Prust said. "I know what they want out of me and what I bring, why I was drafted and why I have a contract. That's the way I've played the last five years. I know what they need me to do, and I'm going to do the best I can."

Despite spending all last season in the AHL, the rookie signed a one-way deal in the summer -- proof of how much the Flames believed in him.

He was expected to make the Flames last year, but a hip injury wasn't responding to treatment and required late-summer surgery.

Still, his first game this season, as early as tomorrow's season-opener in Vancouver, won't be his NHL debut. He skated in 10 tilts two years ago but that seems like an eternity.

"It does, but I definitely remember them quite well," Prust said. "It was disappointing last year not getting anything, but I had a good year with Quad Cities and made the best of it."


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