Four players from Campbell River have played in the NHL. 18-year-old Parker Bell is trying to become the fifth.
Bell was was watching the NHL draft at home with his family when he was selected 155th overall by the Calgary Flames.
Despite growing up in Saskatchewan as a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, like any young player with NHL aspirations, he’s just thrilled to have been drafted.
Although fifth-round picks are not generally seen as prime candidates for becoming long-term NHL talents, the six-foot-four, 200-pound winger has the size and speed that many NHL teams are looking for in an evolving game.
Bell considers his best strengths to be his speed and his shot, but isn’t taking any of his talents for granted.
“There’s a lot of work to do, but I’m really grateful for this opportunity,” Bell said. “It’s been unreal.”
Bell came onto the Flames’ radar because of his raw physical talent and work ethic, making him a promising candidate to be moulded into an NHL caliber player.
“He’s a big kid, he really works hard. [Our scouting team staff] think he’s got a huge ceiling,” said Tod Button, the Flames’ director of amateur scouting, following the draft.
Since being drafted earlier this month, Bell has already gotten to work with the Flames. He started a five-day development camp just two days after his selection.
The camp included high-tempo practice sessions, fitness testing, and scrimmages against high-caliber competition.
Although the camp concluded on Thursday, Bell will remain in Calgary at the team’s request to continue training.
“I’m looking forward to learning how to be a pro,” Bell said. “Development is one thing, but learning from all these guys is huge.”
Bell is expected to return to Kennewick, Wash. where he’ll rejoin the WHL’s Tri-City Americans for his fourth season with the team.
Last year, Bell scored 18 goals and had 31 assists in 64 games with the Americans.