The captain has returned.
After weeks of playing the waiting game, the Hitmen got the good news they’ve been looking for when Mark Kastelic was reassigned to the club after spending training camp with the Ottawa Senators and their affiliate, the Belleville Senators.
And the big man hasn’t stopped smiling since landing in Calgary.
“I’m extremely excited to be back,” he said. “I’ve been keeping up with how the team has been doing the past couple of weeks and I’m so proud of the boys on how well they started this year.
“I can’t wait to get back out there and battle with them on a nightly basis. We didn’t reach our end goal last season and that really has made us hungry and excited to take it to a new level this year.”
After being selected in the fifth round by the Sens, it was a busy summer for the 20-year-old as he took part in development camp, Hitmen Training Camp, Ottawa rookie camp and finally AHL camp with Belleville.
Kastelic has always been a workhorse when it came to off-season training and this time around was no different.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” he said. “I had a lot of fun and learned a lot in my time in Ottawa and Belleville. I learned how to be a pro both on and off the ice, how to take care of my body and little areas in my game that I need to improve.
“I want to maintain the play and pace I was at in Ottawa. If I do that I think it’ll benefit our team here by raising the level of intensity in practice and help us out in games.”
With the return of Kastelic, the Hitmen overage trio is now set with defenceman Dakota Krebs and forward James Malm rounding things out.
And what an impressive group they are.
“We all bring something different to the table,” the Arizona product said. “Krebsy is a shut-down guy and a great leader, Malmer is so creative and brings a lot of offence, the guys love him. I try to bring a little bit of everything to the group and have always taken pride in being strong in all areas of the game.
“The combination of our leadership, skill and work ethic helps make us a strong overage group.”
Entering his last season in the junior ranks, it feels like it was not long ago that he was selected in the second round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft and seeing a young 16-year-old Kastelic getting his feet wet for the first time.
Now a veteran of 263 career games, the towering centreman is looking to leave it all on the line.
“I’m not looking at it that it’s my last year, I’m looking at it as a year to climb new heights together,” he said. “Obviously winning a championship is the main goal and with the group we have, we have the potential to do that.”