Going back in time about four months, Kyle Greentree was staring at the chance he had dreamed about.
In early May, amidst the fallout from the Calgary Flames' first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, Darryl Sutter said the team needed to take a long look at Greentree after a 39-goal season with the AHL's Quad City Flames.
"He's clearly a kid who can play in your top group of players," Sutter told The Sun at the time.
Then, the other cowboy boot fell.
The Flames bolstered their lineup by adding a collection of young forwards to fill out the roster, among them Nigel Dawes, Fredrik Sjostrom, Brandon Prust, Colin Stuart and Brian McGrattan, giving the squad 14 forwards on one-way contracts.
Frustrated? The 25-year-old wouldn't admit it.
"You can't dwell on trades and guys coming in," Greentree said. "With Darryl and Brent (Sutter), I think if you prove you belong here, they'll give you a shot. That's all I can ask for. Coming into this camp, I have to produce to stay up because they've got a lot of good young talented forwards.
"I've got to play well every ice time."
Greentree can increase his stock by replicating his minor-league season and parlay that touch with the Flames when given the chance.
He received a taste of the NHL late in the season with a two-game audition. The first outing, a Battle of Alberta match in Edmonton, went well.
The second was a struggle.
"I was pretty excited playing on Hockey Night in Canada," said the 6-foot-3, 216-lb. left-winger.
"Of my four games I've played, the first games I was called up were my best. I was getting pucks to the net and chances."
The veterans report tomorrow and will hit the ice Sunday, with the first pre-season game Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers.
It's Greentree's chance to prove he can at least be the first call-up from the minors.
"For me to have a chance, I have to produce and I have to put the puck in the net and create offence," Greentree said.
"I don't think my role is necessarily on a fourth line and checking. When you get called up, you want to do all the little things right and kind of shy away from your game. But coming into this camp, I'm going to put it all out there.
"I have to produce."