Brendan Gallagher was a reluctant veteran Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Edmonton native was among 25 top NHL prospects/rookies participating in the NHLPA's rookie showcase at Mastercard Centre. A finalist for league's top rookie award last season the Montreal Canadiens forward shared the spotlight Tuesday with Nathan MacKinnon the highly touted 17-year-old who went first overall to Colorado in this year's draft.

"They (rookies) haven't asked me anything but I don't think I'm a veteran by any means" Gallagher said with chuckle. "I'm still learning.

"I like talking to these guys and hearing the stories they have to tell. It's fun to meet these guys have a few laughs together and get to know them a little bit more."

The five-foot-nine 178-pound Gallagher wasn't invited to last year's showcase which gives Panini America and Upper Deck the chance to photograph many of the game’s top young players for trading card and memorabilia launches. After starting the lockout-shortened season with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs Gallagher cracked Montreal's roster once the NHL campaign began.

The feisty right-winger not only impressed with his spirited play but finished tied for second on the team in goals (15) and game winners (three). Between Montreal and Hamilton Gallagher had 25 goals and 23 assists in 80 combined games in his first full season of pro hockey.

Not bad for a player selected in the fifth round No. 147 overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft from WHL's Vancouver Giants. But Gallagher wasn't surprised.

"I never like to say it was unexpected because that's why you work and train so hard in the summer" he said. "You expect to be there but that said you don't expect it to be handed to you you need to work for it and can't take anything off.

"This summer I prepared the same way did the exact same things. I'm taking nothing for granted."

Gallagher wants to prove he's much more than a one-year wonder in the NHL.

"I don't want to be complacent about a first year" he said. "I know a lot of guys have had good first years and struggle in their second so I'm aware of that.

"The most important thing is winning. I just want to be part of a winning hockey team and for me to contribute in that I need to continue to build on my season last year."

Especially after getting up close and personal with the likes of Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.

"When you're skating with Crosby and he gets the puck in the neutral zone he's gone" Gallagher said. "You see how explosive he is how quick he is how his decision-making process is right there and happens so quickly.

"To play against a guy like that you see the level he's at and the obvious improvement you can make."