November 14, 2017
by Troy Fleece, Regina Leader Post
A long-distance endorsement hit close to home for the newest member of the Regina Pats.
After learning that Regina had acquired him in a blockbuster deal with the Kootenay Ice on Monday, defenceman Cale Fleury eagerly shared the news during a brief phone conversation with his brother Haydn, a former WHL star and current rookie with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
The elder sibling congratulated Cale on joining the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup — a privilege Haydn enjoyed two years ago in his final junior campaign with the Red Deer Rebels. His unique perspective added some excitement to the occasion and made him one of the first people Cale sought out after the deal was completed.
“We have pretty busy schedules — they don’t always line up — but I talked to him about it,” said Fleury, who arrived in Regina on Tuesday afternoon and is slated to make his Pats debut Wednesday against the Calgary Hitmen (7 p.m., Brandt Centre).
“I actually got a phone call from (Pats head coach/GM) John (Paddock) while we were talking so we kind of got cut a little bit short. He just said: ‘It’s going to be awesome playing in Regina, especially with the Memorial Cup.’ ”
He’ll get no argument from Cale, who missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons with Kootenay. Although he had mixed emotions about leaving the only WHL home he has known, Fleury admitted that Regina was one of the teams at the top of his wish list.
“I couldn’t really ask for anything more,” said Fleury, who knew there was a good chance he would be dealt by the rebuilding Ice. “Even at the end of last year when Jeff Chynoweth was our GM, he told me his plan was to trade me at the deadline this year. Obviously with having new ownership and a new GM, I wasn’t too sure (what would happen). But I understand the situation they’re in and kind of expected it to happen at some point.”
The Pats spent about a year chasing Fleury, who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2017 NHL draft.
In order to land him, the Pats agreed to a substantial package comprising two players (veteran defenceman Jonathan Smart and promising rookie forward Cole Muir) along with two bantam draft picks (second- and six-rounders in 2018). Regina also gave up a conditional second-rounder in 2019 or 2020, which is presumably tied to Fleury returning for his 20-year-old season instead of turning pro.
“It’s a confidence booster to me with how much they really wanted me,” said Fleury, 19. “I’ve heard they’ve been trying to trade for me for a while now and they gave up a good amount of people and picks. It makes me feel good that I’m going to a team that really wants me.”
Much like his brother, who was drafted seventh overall by Carolina in 2014, Cale has good size and puck-moving ability. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is a strong skater and shooter who’s very comfortable in both ends of the rink.
“I’m just a steady two-way defenceman,” explained Fleury, who was born in Regina and spent much of his childhood in Carlyle before moving to Calgary. “I can be offensive and I can log good minutes defensively too and help shut down (top lines) on the back end.
“I try to be good at everything.”
The Pats believe Fleury’s all-around game will be a good complement to their group of offensive-minded defenders. He had 11 goals and 38 points in 70 games last season as the captain and No. 1 rearguard with the Ice.
Fleury also gives the Pats a right-handed shot for their left-heavy defence, allowing Paddock to deploy more players on their natural side.
“We would have been looking at him if he was a left-hand shot but, as a right-hand shot, he’s a significant piece,” added Paddock. “He’s got some physical elements to his game. Any team needs a blend of different types of players in certain positions. He’s a different element than we have right now.
“Cale is going to be a valuable player to us.”
Cale Fleury leaves the East Kootenay region after spending his entire WHL career with the ICE. Fleury – a fourth year WHL player – played in 218 regular season games with the ICE tallying 86 points during that time. Fleury was named captain of the ICE in January, 2017.
Fleury (11.19.98) was born in Calgary but played first year bantam hockey in Estevan and before moving to Notre Dame, registering 7G-22A as a first year midget before graduating to the Ice.
Cole Muir, 1999-born defenceman:
Cole Muir is currently in the middle of his first WHL season. Muir was drafted by the Regina Pats in the second round (33rd overall) in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
During the 2016-17 season, Muir played for the Yellowhead Chiefs Midget AAA of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League, where he registered 16 goals and 32 points in 40 regular season games. Muir was a member of Team Manitoba at the 2016 Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup, and also played with Team Green at Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Development Camp in 2017.
Jonathan Smart, a second round draft pick in 2018:
Smart has 38 games of WHL playoff experience as a member of the Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats. While with the Rockets, Smart made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2016. Last season Smart played all 23 post-season games for the Pats, who finished two wins away from capturing the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
Smart – a third-year WHL player – has registered 12 points in 21 games this season. He’s amassed 47 points in 132 regular season games in his WHL career.
The Kelowna native attended Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp in the summer of 2017. Smart was a member of Team Canada at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and played with Team Canada Green at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2015.
Smart was selected in the first round (22nd overall) by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
“Jonathan Smart is a skilled offensive defenceman that will help our power play and be a big part of our success moving forward,” said Matt Cockell, President and General Manager. “Cole Muir is a young player that we had very high interest in, he will be a great addition to an exciting group of young forwards.”