Coaching in the preseason is a difficult task. You have to find combinations that may never play again together, and judge your players against a mixed bag of NHL experience. It leads for some interesting answers, when talking to coaches around the league. Here are some reactions from the league’s bench bosses.
He’s played a very admirable game, and been a factor in each of them. He’s allowed us to think about some other things, one being Leon (Draitsaitl) on the wing. It’s certainly not written in stone, we’ve got a lot of preseason left to play and a number of decisions to make moving forward.
He’s a mature player, he’s got a mature body and a pretty good approach to the daily routine. I think he’ll get the rest that he needs. After that, if he just keeps playing the way he is, he has an impact every night; he shoots the puck, he makes plays, he looks comfortable on the powerplay, he’s been able to penalty kill. That’s not a bad menu for a rookie coming into training camp for the first time.
Playing defense as much as anything, who you’re talking to on the line and what you’re partner is telling you has a really big impact. He got to know Tyler Myers, Dustin Byfuglien and all the guys playing on that side of the ice, and he really enjoyed that.
It’s going to take him some years before he’s an NHL defenseman, learning all the small things about how to position your body, how to roll off a hit, how to extend your stick, all those things. Those training camp conversations are really important.
When guys aren’t like Justin Abdelkader who bring other things like physicality, size, or net front presence, ultimately you have to produce points, whether it’s assists or goals. He’s certainly somebody who has shown a prolific ability to score, be it in the minor leagues.
I saw it first hand, he’s somebody with a right-shot. If he can add that element of scoring, that’ll do what I talked about in camp; demand that you stay here.