The world’s changed quite a bit since the 2012 NHL Draft.
Oil prices crashed. Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada. The United Kingdom “brexited,” whatever that means. The Flames drafted Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett in the first round, and both made the jump directly to the NHL. Meanwhile, 2012 first round selection Mark Jankowski was plying his trade in the NCAA with the Providence College Friars, biding his time.
Four years and a national championship later, Jankowski has an entry-level NHL contract and will finally be making the jump to professional hockey – following in the footsteps of a dozen players drafted after he was.
But aside from perhaps Monahan and Bennett, few players have had a full-time pro debut as anticipated among fans and hockey people alike as Jankowski’s. Following the end of his senior season with Providence College, the 21-year-old Ontario product had an eight-game, two-week American Hockey League appetizer in Stockton.
“I think it was just important for
me to go there and get a few games under my belt, it’s going to be
huge for me coming into my first camp,” said Jankowski after wrapping his on-ice sessions at Flames development camp. “I’ll know how pros act on and
off the ice and just what that pro lifestyle is like, playing a lot
more games than college. All that, just trying to take it all in, I
was trying to soak everything in when I was there and so, like I
said, for main camp.”
Unlike his four previous visits to development camp, Jankowski’s not headed back to Rhode Island afterwards. He’ll be preparing for a full pro season. Given that he and fellow 2012 draftee Jon Gillies are both at their fifth camp, he’s embraced his status as elder statesman.
“I’m trying to be a
leader here,” said Jankowski. “This is my fifth camp so I’m trying to show the younger
guys where to go, show them the ropes and everything, show them how
to act on and off the ice. Just trying to take a little more of a
leadership role and get ready for main [camp].”
Let’s be blunt here: Jankowski follows hockey and owns a computer. Heck, he spent four years in a pretty good school. He’s likely well aware that many players from the Flames organization have made their way to the pro level (and the NHL) since he was drafted. But he’s also seemed keenly aware of his own development in his previous stops in Calgary for these camps, and he’s remained patient as he’s matured and developed.
“I’ve had to have a pretty good
mindset,” said Jankowski. “I know that everyone develops differently and I knew when I
was drafted, I wasn’t going to come in right away and make the team. I
knew it was going to be a process in development, so I was just
taking it day by day when I was in college, trying to work as hard as
I can every single day – whether it was in the gym, whether it’s
how I eat, how I sleep, practicing on the ice, it’s every single day
that development. I think I’m there now.”
It’s been four years since Jankowski was a first round pick. He’s played a ton of hockey and has worked really hard (on and off the ice) to improve. His eight-game, six-point performance in Stockton last season might be an aberration. But regardless, he seems hell-bent on having a strong training camp and has set his sights on making the Flames roster when the season opens on October 12.
“I know it’s going to have to be a
big summer for me training-wise and on the ice, off the ice, working
on all aspects of my game, but I feel like if I work my butt off I
can make that jump,” said Jankowski.
Jankowski has been patient with his own development. And he seems aware that he’s arriving to professional hockey fashionably late. But he also seems intent on making up for lost time.