BRYAN WILSON – 09.15.2023
Sam Honzek is ready to show what he can do at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
The Flames’ 2023 first-round selection (16th overall) spent the summer training with Flames players and staff, which was a valuable experience and helped grow his confidence heading into the 2023 Prospects Camp.
“I think I did a really good job during the summer,” he explained. “Skating with pros, development camp and also spent the summer in Calgary working out with the Flames … It’s been really good, I’ve been busy.”
Honzek has played on the wing for the majority of the last two seasons with the Vancouver Giants (WHL), but at 6-foot-4, 184 lbs, there has been talk of him possibly playing centre more regularly this season.
Should that be the case, the 18-year-old says he’s comfortable making the transition, although he is conscious of the fact it will take some time to adjust to that role.
“I played centre when I was younger, so I’m comfortable doing that,” he said. “It will take me a little bit longer, because I haven’t played (centre) in maybe three years. Whether I’m in the NHL or the WHL … it will help me in both.”
Heading into this season, it was made known by Flames GM Craig Conroy that there will be spots available for younger players on the roster to start the year. Of course, he still needs to earn that opportunity, but Honzek intends to do everything he can to put himself in a position to make the NHL club.
“Basically, they told us it’s possible,” said Honzek, when asked about the message from management. “I’m trying not to think about it, (just) trying to focus on this tournament and play my best and eventually get there. The first thing I’m thinking about is this tournament, to play (well) and help the team win.”
The Young Stars Classic kicks off on Friday night when the Flames’ prospects take on the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects. (8:30 MTN, streaming on CalgaryFlames.com). It’s the first real chance for Honzek to showcase his skills in a competitive setting and he admits there may be some nerves early on, but he’s looking forward to putting on the Flaming ‘C’ for his first game action.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I haven’t played a game in awhile so I think it’s really exciting. Maybe, when the game gets closer it might get a bit nervous for me, my first preseason NHL game.
“I think I’m ready, there’s nothing to be scared of, just be myself.”