Zach McKelvie hopes to get hockey career back on track after two years of Army service

Rookie camps feature plenty of players trying to make difficult transitions. Most are hoping to shift from either college hockey or the junior level to the minors or even a more dramatic jump to the NHL. Boston Bruins prospect Zach McKelvie faces a challenge that most won’t experience, though: going from active duty in the Army to shaking off rust as a blueliner.

The 26 year old defenseman hopes to get his legs back under him beginning at the Bruins’ rookie camp at Ristuccia Arena. The Bruins actually hoped that McKelvie would receive a release due to his hockey contract much earlier, but new Department of Defense rules prohibited him from doing so until now.

That setback hit the “Pause” button on McKelvie’s career, but the Bruins believe that he still has time to develop – and the added advantage of his speedy skating ability to make up for some of the maturation process. Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning spoke with’s Joe Haggerty about McKelvie’s development process.

“He’s a great skater. He hasn’t played competitive hockey in a couple of years from college, but because he’s such a good skater and he moves well out there — and he’s a competitive kid — I think his timing will be off a little bit I think to start,” said Benning. “But I think once he gets his timing he could turn out to be a good player for us.”

Benning is a keen evaluator of young hockey talent, and the B’s assistant GM believes there’s still plenty of time for McKelvie to get his groove back with no hurry given Boston’s stacked stable of D-men at the NHL level.

McKelvie spoke about his experience in the Army and the mixed feelings that came with putting his career on hold.

“It was a great experience. I was an infantry officer in the army,” said McKelvie. “More than anything it was a learning experience, and getting to know the men and women that were deployed four or five times is extremely humbling and gratifying at the same time. I definitely wouldn’t trade the two years [served] for anything.

“I thought about hockey every day and I missed hockey every day, but I also took pride in wearing the US army uniform every day.”

Zach isn’t the only McKelvie hoping to make his NHL dreams come true. His twin brother Chris is a forward who split time between the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors and AHL’s Connecticut Whale in 2010-11.

Zach McKelvie’s already taken an interesting road to even make it back to Bruins rookie camp and he faces more challenges if he hopes to eventually earn NHL playing time. That being said, there’s a chance that he might face his twin brother at the sport’s highest level some day.

Flames release Ryan Wilson from PTO

Ryan Wilson, Sidney Crosby
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The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.

The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.

Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.

The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.

He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.

The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.

The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.

The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.

‘Yotes return Dylan Strome to OHL

Dylan Strome, Nikita Nikitin

The Arizona Coyotes have returned Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL.

Strome, 18, was the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.

The 6’3, 185 pounder was hoping to stick with the Coyotes this season, but the team decided to take the conservative approach with their top prospect.

Strome will look to build off an incredible junior season that saw him score 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.

Strome seems to be taking the demotion in stride.

The team also announced that they’ve assigned goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Matthias Plachta to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Domingue, 23, had a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in seven games last season.

Plachta, a free agent signing, will begin his first pro season in North America. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points in the German League last season.