2015 Development Camp: Brandon Hickey

You could be forgiven if you hadn’t have heard of Brandon Hickey when he was drafted last summer.

The third round selection, 64th overall, of the Calgary Flames in the 2014 NHL Draft flew a bit under the radar as a draft prospect – he ended the year ranked 63rd among North American skaters by Central Scouting. But the Flames, having their ear to the ground in their own backyard, nabbed him from the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. A year later, the 19-year-old defender looks like a completely different person. His game has some swagger and he’s sporting a beard, a by-product of his lengthy playoff run with the Boston University Terriers.

Listening to Hickey speak, you can kind of tell what the Flames liked about him, even ignoring the on-ice displays he put on during the past season. The kid seems like a sponge, and listening to him describe his whirlwind last season – the draft, Flames development camp, his season with the Terriers and the NCAA playoff run, and recently receiving an invite to Hockey Canada’s summer junior camp – he still seems motivated to improve his game.

He credits a lot of his progression over the past season to his Boston University coaches – specifically head coach David Quinn and associate coach Steve Greeley.

“I think I progressed a ton,” shared Hickey after an on-ice session at Flames development camp. “My coach, Coach Quinn, great hockey mind, you know he taught me a lot this year – and Coach Greeley as well, the defensive coach. And I couldn’t have been more happy with my season. Played a ton. With a big freshman class you know the opportunities are going to come, so I think the coaches handled that really well.”

While Hickey is a self-professed fan of the defensive game, the area that he feels he most improved in probably sounds like music to Flames’ fans ears given the playing style Calgary has embraced recently.

“I’d say my offensive side of my game [has progressed the most],” said Hickey. “I threw up a good number of points this year, felt more comfortable jumping into the rush and adding offense from the back end and I think that stems from the coaches having confidence in me, telling me to use my feet, use my skating ability and get up into the rush.”

The praise for Hickey – from collegiate hockey observers, from Flames fans and from Hockey Canada – has done one big thing for him: given him a boost of confidence.

“It for sure adds to the confidence side of the game, and hockey is a game of confidence,” said Hickey. “If you’re going to be playing with confidence you’re just going to produce more and play better overall, so I think that really helps me kinda see where I’m at in regards to the rest of the country and the rest of the world as well.”

While expectations for Hickey may be raised next season, a byproduct of a strong freshman campaign, the Terriers will be diminished by the departure of one of Hickey’s best friends on the team – Buffalo Sabres second overall pick Jack Eichel. Hickey notes that he learned a lot from defending against Hickey throughout the season.

“You pick up on a lot of the tendencies that the good players have,” said Hickey. “How they can change speeds so fast. I noticed in the first month he was one of the hardest guys to read coming in on a one-on-one because his legs don’t look like they’re moving that fast, but he’s got that long explosive stride so he’s able to pick it up as he’s coming down on you. It really helps to pick up on little pointers on what to watch for when a guy’s coming down on you; hand positioning, and watch his eyes as well.”

As for Hickey, he’s not tipping his hand as to his long-term collegiate plans – granted, few players typically do. He remains focused on improving himself as a player and making the Flames want to have him on their roster. While it’s unlikely he’ll enjoy the kind of rapid-fire progression this year that he had as a freshman, his plan of making the Flames want him is working pretty well so far.

Hickey returns to Calgary for Hockey Canada’s U20 summer development camp August 1-6 at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Winsport. The camp features two games apiece against junior squads from Russia and the Czech Republic. Then it’s back to school, as Boston University begins their schedule in October.

      • everton fc

        The Sieloff interview gave me the impression he’s a leader. Sees himself as a leader. A good thing. If he can stay healthy and find his way back on track, he’ll be pushing people himself, for a spot on the backend.

        What an exciting situation we are in. We can now clearly see why guys like Ramage, Cundari and Acolatse were expendable, and why they didn’t offer Eric Roy a contract (did anyone draft Roy? I don’t think so. And I see nothing online about him being invited to a Development Camp)

      • CofRed4Life

        True, true. Great to have all these options and I think we’d all be ecstatic if Kanzig turned into a reliable NHL shutdown d man!

        Would love to still have a reasonably priced Gio holding down a spot on the bottom pairings in the twilight of his career gunning for a cup

  • OKG

    All season long we bemoaned the lack of depth in our defensive ranks in this organization; things seem to have changed. After watching 2 days of drills and the scrimmage I am hopeful we are better than we think.

    Hickey has the potential to be very good; he impressed me with his effort in drills and his competitiveness during the scrimmage. At one point during the scrimmage he lost his balance but continued to battle eventually got the puck to his d partner regained his balance and when the puck was reversed back to him quickly made the safe outlet pass.

    You could see the growth in both KUlak and Culkin as both have matured significantly after 1 season in the AHL. Sieloff looks as if he has regained his form and should again make an imapct at the AHL level. Kenny Morrison also looked good yesterday and has the potential to play in the NHL this season.

    Kylingyon is small but can skate and has a nose for the offense. Andersson struggled in the two days of drills but played quite well yesterday. Again he is not very big. Another guy who I like but is on the small side is Gilmour; very sound and makes good decisions.

    The big guys are another story all together. Kanzig has significantly improved his skating and should do quite well in the AHL. It was nice to see Ollas Mattsson there, he looked good in drills but I did not really notice him in the scrimmage. Then there is big Riley Bruce; the person next too me said he looked like a deer in the headlights in his first shift of the scrimmage but as time went on during the scrimmage he grew on him. He is a big guy with some good signs of potential.

    All in all I am more hopeful about our back end prospects today than I was during the season.

    • Parallex

      “All season long we bemoaned the lack of depth in our defensive ranks in this organization; things seem to have changed.”

      They don’t seem to have changed… they have changed. That’s not to say we’re operating at a surplus (more like finally up to speed) but the defensive depth of the club took a huge step forward. Due to Hamilton the big league depth is so much better and due to Andersson and Kylington (two guys I really wanted the Flames to get) the prospect depth is much improved.

      I was skeptical of him all year but Brad Treliving is just killing the offseason so far. More remains to be done but a hellova start.

      • OKG

        I try to be a little less Oiler like in my language when speaking of prospects. Once a guy makes it in the NHL then I get a bit more excited. Even now I look at the organization I see Hickey and Gilmour going back to College, Andersson and Riley back to the OHL, Kylington and Mattsson going back to Sweden and this leaves us with: Morrison, Kanzig, Sieloff, Kulak, Culkin, and Spoon in the AHL. Still a need for more guys to play in the AHL.

          • OKG

            Yonkman’s not returning, and Nakladal is a KHL champion, he didn’t come here to be AHL filler. Flames signed him because they thought he would compete for a bonafide roster spot in Calgary. He might play in Stockton while Treliving sorts out the roster but he will finish the season with Calgary if he’s any good.

          • OKG

            Yonkman is gone, signed in Europe for next year. AHL D-core at this point looks like: Culkin, Kulak, Morrison, Nakladal, Sieloff, Kanzig and possibly Wotherspoon if he doesn’t stick with the Flames.

            That potentially leaves one more D-man spot in Stockton for next year

          • OKG

            I suspect the Flames will sign at least 2 uFA’s to one way AHL contracts to fill the extra spaces needed and veteran leadership. Lots of players still looking for work. Kylington could still end up in Stockton. Nakladal will only be in Stockton for a cup of coffee IMO.

    • OKG

      Depth was always a poor way to put it. The Flames always had plenty of depth in the D pipeline. The problem is they arguably had nothing else. If Tyler Wotherspoon is considered your best defense prospect something is amiss.

      Drafting Kylington and Andersson added the high end the Flames lacked. That doesn’t mean there weren’t players to like though. I’ve always been a Kulak fan, and Brandon Hickey is interesting to say the least.

  • OKG

    There’s an interesting interview with Sieloff on the Flames website. The way he tells it, he was moved to forward at the end of last year because Adirondack was shot of forwards.

    He describes himself at more stay at home. I know from two or three years back, he likes to hit.

    With all the recent additions to the D, Sieloff seems to have been discounted and pushed to the back of the depth chart by the fans. But he was slated to be on the National Junior team and may returning to stride after his year layoff. One more potential prospect in what now looks like a very credible pipeline on D.

    • OKG

      Sieloff was slated to wear a letter for the USA if I recall correctly. I believe he was included in my discussion of guys; he has had a tough go of things the last few years but as I said he has finally seemed to regain his strength, skating and his confidence. However the talent and depth we now have makes his job even more difficult. But considering everything he has had to overcome I would not put it past him.

  • loudogYYC

    Really liked Hickeys game during the scrimmage. Effortless skater and real smart with positioning and general awareness; John Gilmour on the other hand got lost a bit when the game transitioned to defense. I agree about Riley Bruce, deer in the headlights for sure.

    Overall the defense prospects stole the show, nice little mix for the Flames moving forward.

  • OKG

    Agree with those saying the team has done a total turnaround when it comes to D. And not just by adding Hamilton either.

    Kylington and Rasmussen added to Kulak, Culkin and Wotherspoon finally provides some long term depth. Hickey, of course, as well. Definitely night and day from when Erixon was our best hope….ugh……

    Riley Bruce was surprisingly mobile during the scrimmage I thought, but still has miles to go. Pleasantly surprised by him though.

    Nakladal I know nothing about, he’ll be interesting to track this season.

    Seiloff, I have concerns about. He still doesn’t seem the same as pre-injury and with the way the game has gone so much towards needing to be able to play that transitional style, he’ll be in tough.

    Overall though, the future is very bright right now.

    Just the goaltending that needs to be sorted out now……