May 17, 2011 1 Comment
Ask any New Jersey Devils fan who the best skater in the history of their franchise is. Although a few different names might pop up, none are as prominent as Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens. Saskatoon Blades defenseman Duncan Siemens has almost duplicated Stevens’ junior numbers, and looks to be close to the second coming of the punishing superstar.
Granted, that is a hell of a lot of pressure to put on a young 17-year-old who isn’t yet 200 pounds. In fact, at 6-foot-3 and 192 pounds, the left-handed shooter from Sherwood Park, Alberta still needs to fill out a bit more to exemplify the physical characteristics of Stevens, who was as solid as a rock. But Siemens, in just his second full Western League season, posted five goals, 43 points, and a plus-40 rating – very similar to Stevens’ six-goal, 42-point performance in his second year with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario League.
“The reason I admire him so much is because I loved the way he played the game,” Siemens told NHL.com. “He went out there with a huge edge on his shoulders and made every single player, probably even some of the guys on his own team, scared of him. It’s the same way I want to play. If you ask any forward that played in his day, when they saw him on the ice, they were hoping the coach was calling someone else’s line. He played for keeps and that’s something that I try to incorporate into my game.”
Siemens’ game has been dissected by scouts throughout the country – albeit if there’s not much to criticize. “Siemens is one of the top players available from the (WHL) this year,” NHL Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald said in an interview with NHL.com. “He’s a strong, smooth skater with good composure and very poised under pressure. He’s got good size and isn’t afraid to use it.”
Scouts love his size, of course, and believe his hockey sense rivals some of the top players in the draft. His skating is very good, although there is always room for improvement. He is great on the defensive side of the puck, as his plus/minus rating attests to. However, scouts often mention that they would like to see him be able to jump up in the play and join the offensive rush. His hands still need improvement, as that first pass (or even a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone) isn’t always on the money. But if he is able to improve a bit in all these aspects, you have to expect Siemens to come out as one of the best players in this year’s draft.
Siemens said to Yahoo! Sports that he has to work on “some of my puck-handling ability and reading offensive plays. Try to get a little more open in the offensive zone. I pride myself on being a shutdown defenseman, so an offensive side of the game comes when it comes. I don’t really look for it, but I need to develop that without losing my defensive specialty.
“I think that I’ve progressed a player, in my all-around game and I just look to continue getting better as the season goes along.”
Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.