Wade Allison Learns How to Be a Pro Before Heading to Western Michigan

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Wade Allison was struggling to find his shot, so he sought the advice of someone who's been here before: Cole Bardreau, who attended development camp last summer.

Allison noticed how the puck was coming off Bardreau's stick on the first day of development camp, and how he didn't have the same torque coming from his own shots.

"I asked him after practice, 'Hey, can you help me out with this?'" Allison said. "I was trying it and pucks were not going off my stick the way I wanted and I was looking over and was like, 'Wow, that was impressive.'"

For Allison, it was his first development camp. The Flyers selected him with the 52nd overall pick, thier third second-round pick, in last month's NHL draft.

The Flyers don't use the camp as an evaluation tool. That comes in September when training camp begins. General manager Ron Hextall said the camp's intended to teach players fundamentals to work on during the summer and how to be professional hockey players.

Hextall pointed out it's easier for players to implement basics into their game now rather than during the season when their main focus is winning games. Nutrition was also a teaching point.

"It's been really good," Allison said. "Definitely enjoyed my time here. Just trying to be a sponge out. Everything they say is very important, so I'm trying to soak it all in.

"You have to absorb all in because everything they say is very important. You can't afford to just miss things like that, you know. You try to take away as much as you can."

The 18-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Western Michigan in the fall. How long he stays in Kalamazoo remains to be seen. He's could be there all four years.

By his own admission, Allison has to improve his skating. He said after being drafted his first two steps aren't great and there's room for improvement there. Why Western Michigan?

"Andy Murray is the head coach," Allison said. "I mean, he's got one of the most impressive résumés in hockey, another Manitoba connection, I guess.

"I just stepped on campus and it just felt like the place I wanted to be. I thought Andy Murray gives me the best opportunity to become a Flyer one day."

Murray also has a Flyers connection. The 65-year-old served as an assistant coach with the orange and black from 1988 through 1990. He's been the WMU head coach since 2011.

After the draft, Allison mimicked what he said at development camp, singing high praise of Murray. The right winger said Murray will help out with his defensive zone coverage.

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Allison says he tries to play big. As an offensive player, he believes he can both create off the rush and by carrying the puck to the net.

"There's not really one area I extremely excel at," he said, "but I try to do a little bit of both. If I can get an odd-man rush and score off that, I mean great. If not, I'll try to create something out of the corner, bring the puck to the net, be very strong on the puck."

Allison spent the last two seasons playing for the USHL's Tri-City Storm. In 2015-16, he finished second on the Storm with 25 goals and 47 points and led Tri-City with 203 shots on goal.

The season didn't start strong for Allison, but he credited that to injuries and a bit of bad luck. Some bad bounces resulted in him having little confidence. After the first two months of the season, he had just six points, but eventually figured things out.

"Things were going tough," he said. "I was gripping my stick a little too tight, and then just one went in, got a little bit more confident. Another went in and it just took off from there just like a snowball rolling down a hill."

Allison said he wanted to play to his skillset during development camp, but the coaches told him to step outside his comfort zone and experiment with different ideas on the ice.

The whole process of being drafted has been a whirlwind for Allison. There's been little time for rest and a lot of training. He said he hasn't had more than two consecutive days off this summer with the NHL Scouting Combine, the draft and his offseason training.

When he finally got home from training after the Flyers drafted him, it was time for development camp and time to interact with some of his future coaches and teammates.

And this is just the beginning of what Allison hopes is a long NHL career.

"I'd say the transition from one to another," he said. "It's definitely exhausting, but that's part of hockey. You have to get used to it."

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