Not traditionally known for drafting Europeans or Quebec players under the previous regime, the Flames’ new management has diversified quite a bit. Case in point? Blueliner Ryan Culkin, taken in the fifth round of the 2012 Entry Draft from the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. He’s the first defender from the Q taken by the Flames since Adam Pardy in 2004 (and the first player overall since Hugo Carpentier in 2006).
Culkin took the time to chat with another Ryan, FlamesNation’s Ryan Pike, during Flames development camp this week.
Ryan Pike: You were ranked fairly high on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings list. Did you expect to go where you went at the draft?
Ryan Culkin: Honestly, the list is just a list for me. I wasn’t expecting to go at all, actually. I was just going there for the experience. I was honestly hoping that my name would be called. It was hard sitting there for awhile, but then Calgary had their fifth round pick and picked me. I was so happy, staying in Canada. I grew up on this team, this team and Montreal are two of my favourite teams, so I couldn’t be happier.
RP: You’re the first Quebec player selected by the Flames in quite a while. What’s it like coming to Western Canada?
RC: Actually, I’m honoured to be the first pick since 2006 from the Quebec league. I played with Patrick Roy, he’s done a great job developing me for the past two years. He knows Bob Hartley very well. He tells me, ‘You think you work hard with me? Wait until you meet Bob Hartley. He’s going to push you to the limit.’ I’m just happy I’m here right now. I’m learning so much from the other players and I’m having a lot of fun.
RP: Did Patrick Roy give you any advice regarding the draft process?
RC: He was actually at the draft. He told me, ‘Don’t be nervous, your time will come.’ and when I did get picked, ‘Congratulations and you better work your butt off.’
RP: What are your goals for next season?
RC: I want to have a great year next year with the Quebec Remparts. I want to get a lot bigger and a lot stronger. A great camp like this is going to help me progress throughout this season and I’m looking forward to next season, too.
RP: Do you feel any pressure being part of the next wave of Flames picks chosen under the revamped drafting strategy?
RC: Of course there’s a bit of pressure, but I thrive on pressure. I love pressure. But it’s obviously a big honour to be known as [part of] a class of guys like that and all the draftees this year are unbelievable players… Great guys, and it’s nice to be in a class with those guys.