For the past week, Brayden Pachal got his first true taste of professional hockey life, skating with the Ottawa Senators in their NHL development camp from June 27 to July 3.
Although he’s been playing hockey for most of his young 17-year-old life, Pachal looks back to Jan. 9 as to how he was able to get an invite from the Senators in the first place.
Pachal’s season turned around for the better after he was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders that day from the Victoria Royals, in exchange for P.A.’s Loch Morrison.
“I think if they wouldn’t have given me that opportunity, I don’t think there was a chance of me even getting in a development camp,” the 17-year-old defenceman from Estevan said. “I’ve got to give a lot of that to the coaches. They’ve helped me from the time I got there to the end of the season. I think I’ve improved a lot.”
That improvement is evident in Pachal’s stats, all of which jumped up after he put on green and gold.
He had no goals and three assists and was -9 in 35 games with the Royals to begin the year. After arriving in Prince Albert just before the trade deadline, Pachal scored three goals (including two game winners and a power play goal), nine assists and was -1.
“I was struggling a bit in Victoria,” Pachal said. “When I got traded to a younger team, I was really excited because I knew coming in, I would have a lot more opportunity. I’ve got to give a lot of thanks to the coaching staff. They trusted me as soon as I got there.”
Pachal and ‘Pesky’ Parker pals in Ottawa
Of course, Pachal didn’t go to the nation’s capital alone. Raiders assistant captain Parker Kelly there with him.
“It was good, [Parker and I] kinda stuck together. We stuck with the guys we knew playing against each other like [Tri-City American Jordan] Topping, and [ex-Raider Matteo] Gennaro for example,” Pachal said. “Having a familiar face helped us just to get to know the guys together.”
Pachal and Kelly were some of the youngest players there, both just finishing up their 17-year-old years.
“It shows where you’re at,” Pachal said. “A lot of those guys have played professional already. Me coming in as a 17-year-old, going into my 18-year-old season in the ‘Dub, it showed me where I need to get to if I want to play professional.
“I think when it came to the scrimmages and the practices, I felt like I was right with those guys. I competed. But obviously strength [I can work on], a lot of those guys are 23, 24-year-old men. Me and Kelly are coming into our 18-year-old seasons, you can definitely see the differences in strength and skills. A lot of those guys have been to many development camps, and they knew what to expect… I can take a lot away from it.”
On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW
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