Wainwright’s Mason Shaw (left) was selected 97th overall by the Minnesota Wild in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and Lloydminster’s Zach Fischer (right) is competing at the Calgary Flames development camp this week. Supplied Photos
Two local hockey players who have been inseparable on the ice the past few years took a different approach to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft at Chicago’s United Center on June 23 and 24.
Lloydminster’s Zach Fischer, 19, knew three teams were interested in selecting him, thanks to pre-draft talks with his agent, but the final-year draft eligible skater opted for a weekend relaxing at the lake instead of following along with the action.
On the other hand, 18-year-old Wainwright product Mason Shaw travelled to Chicago to take in the draft from the United Center stands.
Shaw heard his name called in person by the Minnesota Wild early in the fourth round, while Fischer received a phone call first from his agent and then Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving, halfway through the fifth round.
“Right after, you go do the media stuff, interviews and do some photos,” said Shaw, a five-foot-nine and 181-pound centre with the Medicine Hat Tigers. “Then I went up to their suite and the GM was there and all the head scouts and whatnot. The farm team staff was there, the player development guys, so I got to meet a good chunk of the organization there with the Wild.”
Shaw added his next opportunity to impress the coaches and staff will occur later this week, when he heads to Minnesota for a 10-day development camp.
Fischer, who enjoyed a breakout 34-goal and 63-point season with the Tigers in 2016-17, first met the Flames staff earlier this week when the six-foot-two and 205-pound right wing joined his first NHL development camp in Calgary.
“It’s a showcase,” said Fischer. “Meet everybody, but you need to compete and show what you’re all about and show why they selected you. So, I think it’s just a first step of building a relationship with them and showing them what you can bring to the table. And hopefully, it goes farther than that.”
Shaw tallied a WHL-career high 27 goals and 94 points in 71 games this past season, to help the Tigers pick up a Central Division leading 51-win season.
The club followed the regular season success with a sweep of the defending WHL champion Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round of the playoffs, before bowing out in seven games to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Round 2.
“Personal wise, for both of us, I think we reached some goals we wanted to,” said Shaw, who has also been invited to attend the Canadian national junior team development camp in Plymouth, Mich., later this month.
“We had a really good team this year, and we get to raise a banner when we go back to Medicine Hat next year, which is really exciting. It ended a little bit sooner than we wanted it to, but nonetheless I think it was a really successful year for the both of us.”
Fischer and Shaw started playing together during the 2011-12 season with the Lloydminster bantam AAA Heat.
The high scoring forwards stayed close as they moved up the ranks, with both skaters taking the leap into the WHL during the 2014-15 campaign.
“We’re agitators,” said Fischer. “He’s small, I’m big. We kind of play the same role. Not afraid to get dirty. He goes in and fights the same as me, so we compare like that and we both have a scoring touch.”
Fischer noted preparations for the summer camps and the beginning of main camps in late August started about two weeks after the Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes.
He said they’re on the ice skating and in the gym working out almost every day during the off-season in an attempt to make the best impression possible on the Tigers, and their new NHL team’s coaches.
“Like Fish, I’ll just go down (to Minnesota) and enjoy my time there,” said Shaw.
“Go there, compete hard and have some fun.”