Max Willman is quite familiar with development camp. After four years, he should be used to the drill of what the July week will bring.
But while the 2014 Buffalo Sabres draft pick is comfortable with the surroundings and his fellow prospects, each year brings new opportunities to learn and grow his game.
"It was exciting being back here," said Willman, who was drafted in the fifth round in 2014. "Definitely feeling comfortable being around the guys and it was a lot of fun these past couple of days. Definitely excited coming back here each year and always learning something new and showing how I've developed year after year and always taking away something from it."
While fans look to the on-ice drills and Tuesday's showcase three-on-three tournament, some of the most important development camp work happens off the ice. This year's edition included cooking and nutrition.
"The cooking was fun. I definitely learned some things there," Willman said. "I usually get my meals made for me by my mom or my dad. But I'm learning new things about nutrition and cooking and eating well and all those types of things away from the ice. It's always good to learn those things. It's definitely a game-changer what you put in your body and how it affects you and how you feel coming on the ice."
Willman made a jump in production last season, skating with Brown University in the ECAC. He set career highs in points (26) and goals (11) during his junior season.
"It's just being stronger on the puck and feeling more comfortable with pressure and dealing with bodies and my edge control and speed, stuff like that," Willman said.
His success had not translated into success for Brown. The Bears finished last in the ECAC last year with a 3-18-1 conference record, 4-25-2 overall.
Heading into his senior year, Willman wants to help turn the program's fortunes around and lay a foundation for the future.
"Last season was definitely unacceptable by any means," Willman said. "Just going forward we want to improve in the win column and get a little further in the playoffs and hopefully make a run at it next year.
"We have a big senior class. If you have a letter or if you don't, it's about being a leader to the younger guys and setting that example, setting that culture for the guys to come in the future."
Story topics: Max Willman