Elson gets shot with Flames

He’s certainly not complaining, but the Calgary Flames made summer a whole lot more strenuous for Turner Elson.

Turner Elson of the Rebels braces himself for an eventual collision with goalkeeper Jon Groenheyde of the Edmonton Oil Kings during first period action at the Centrium on March 19

Turner Elson of the Rebels braces himself for an eventual collision with goalkeeper Jon Groenheyde of the Edmonton Oil Kings during first period action at the Centrium on March 19

He’s certainly not complaining, but the Calgary Flames made summer a whole lot more strenuous for Turner Elson.

Elson was invited to the Flames’ summer development camp after being passed over in June’s NHL entry draft and this weekend will leave for Penticton, B.C., to compete with Calgary prospects in a five-team rookie tournament.

“Having the Flames give me this chance made my summer a lot better, but also a lot harder,” Elson said Wednesday. “I really pushed hard to be the better player that they (Flames) expect me to be. It was a very busy summer.”

Elson, who spent long hours working with a personal trainer as well as running and lifting weights during July and August in his hometown of St. Albert, will likely be back in Red Deer late next week to prepare for his third Western Hockey League season with the Rebels. The five-foot-11, 190-pound winger plans on playing a major role with the club during the 2011-12 season.

“I’m hoping to be a go-to-guy. I want to be on a top line and be a player who can produce goals and points,” said the feisty forward, who last winter scored 15 goals, collected 31 points, racked up 124 minutes in penalties and was a plus-17 in 68 regular-season outings. “I also want to be a guy who’s on the ice in the last minute to preserve a win.”

Elson is one of six Rebels players headed to NHL rookie camps today and Friday, with the others being drafted players Alex Petrovic (Florida), Byron Froese (Chicago), Justin Weller (Phoenix) and John Persson (New York Islanders), as well as Adam Kambeitz, who was invited to the Phoenix Coyotes camp following the NHL draft.

“They (Elson and Kambeitz) are guys who were on the radar for this year’s draft. Both had teams looking at them and inquiring about them,” said Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin.

“Ultimately, they weren’t drafted, but that can be an advantage sometimes. They both have an opportunity to go to a camp and with all of the rookie tournaments being played they will be exposed to other teams as well.

“Using Turner as an example, if it doesn’t work out with the Flames there are four other teams (in Penticton) getting a good look at him. If two or three teams show interest in him he has some say in where he goes.”

Wallin is confident that Elson will eventually get a legitimate shot at playing for pay.

“When we first looked at him when he was 16 he was something like five-foot-five. He’s a late developer as far as growth is concerned, but he’s a very intelligent player and his work ethic and tenacity are through the roof,” said the Rebels bench boss.

“We have high hopes for him here. He has the potential to put up bigger numbers than he has and I think he’s going to do that this year. I expect him to take a jump offensively for us and I think he has a chance to be a pro someday. You can’t count out guys who find a way and he’s one of those guys who will find a way, the same way he did at this level. He wasn’t on the radar at the (2007) bantam draft, but he has that persistence about him and I don’t have any reason to doubt that he’ll continue to do that at the next level.”

Upon his return to Red Deer, Elson is hoping he’ll have his brother Trace as a Rebels teammate. The younger Elson, 17, is one of 31 players remaining on the club’s preseason roster.

“It’s been great to see how he’s progressed through camp and our first preseason games,” said Turner Elson. “It’s just nice that I can help him become a better player and that he has Jesse as a coach. He’s an unreal coach who can really help Trace.”

The Rebels, 2-0 to date in the preseason, meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Innisfail Arena, then travel to Calgary Saturday to face the Hitmen at 7 p.m. at the Flames Community Arenas.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com