July 29 2013 08:11AM
A year ago, Mark Jankowski entered Calgary Flames development camp as an enigma. Who was this lanky kid and how was he going to turn into Joe Nieuwendyk and save the franchise? A year later, Jankowski is no longer quite as lanky and is slightly less of a kid after a year in college. He's also filled out a bit and he's celebrated his 18th birthday – and is closing in on his 19th birthday in mid-September. When speaking to the assembled media during development camp, he noted he felt much more comfortable there this time around.
“Over the school year I've gotten a little bigger, a little stronger, and I feel a lot more comfortable here the second time around,” Jankowski said, noting he's grown a fair bit from last year. “I'm about six-three and a half right now and weighed in 185, which they said was 14 pounds heavier than last year's camp, so it's a big improvement.”
Now heading into his second season with the NCAA's Providence College Friars, Jankowski is a key piece of the Friars team that shocked many when it made the Hockey East playoffs despite having a very young team with only a few NHL prospects. He admits that the leap from Quebec prep school hockey to the NCAA's deep waters was pretty steep.
“It was definitely a huge jump from where I was, and I think over the course of the year I adjusted, and I think I played my best hockey at the end of the year, which was good for me. I'll just improve and jump in next year,” said Jankowski.
By his own admission, Jankowski didn't play a lot of his natural position, center, for Providence. He feels that being able to learn all three forward positions early on will be beneficial to him in the long run.
“I played mostly wing. Just my first year in college, my coach wanted me to get accustomed to the game because it was a big jump, and there's a little bit less responsibility defensively on the wing. The game-plan is definitely to be center next year, though,” said Jankowski.
The Ontario native's summer is far from over. While he also has a school year to prepare for, he's headed to Hockey Canada's U20 summer development camp as a late invite – after it became apparent that a few invitees wouldn't be able to play in the exhibition games at Lake Placid. He'll be joined at the camp by fellow Flames draftees Sean Monahan and Emile Poirier, with the possibility that all three of them could be suiting up for Team Canada at the World Juniors in Malmo, Sweden over the Christmas holidays.