Playing for the Calgary Hitmen, Greg Chase was in a privileged spot to observe last season.
The Sherwood Park, AB product watched as three teammates – Chris Driedger, Jaynen Rissling and Kenton Helgesen – were selected in the 2012 NHL Draft last June in Pittsburgh.
Eligible this season, Chase is ready to apply what he’s learned.
“The biggest thing for me is to not worry about the point production or how much ice time I’m getting,” said Chase, who put up 28 points in 66 games as a rookie last year. “Just worrying about my own game and working on the things I can get better at is the biggest thing.
“Driedger gave me a couple words of advice at the start of the year. He said not to worry about it and if you’re thinking about it it’s obviously going to affect your game. I think it’s great advice.”
It’s easy for Driedger, a draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, to encourage Chase. The two are roommates. But beyond that, the Hitmen goaltender wasn’t shy to offer up some flattering words to the 17-year-old.
“He’s definitely a guy to watch this year. I think there are going to be big things for him hockey-wise. I think you definitely need to keep an eye on him. He has a lot of skill. If he finds his rhythm, he’s going to be one of the best players on our team.”
Western Hockey League scout Zenon Herasymiuk mirrored Driedger’s assessment.
“I feel as though he has just scratched the surface in this regard and his game is soon to round out,” Herasymiuk said. “Chase has a diverse skill set which includes smooth hands and the vision of a gifted playmaker, which make him an asset both in transition and below the goal line.”
Which makes him dangerous in any spot he should find himself in.
Though the season is only a couple games old, does it feel different compared to last year playing in your draft year?
“I haven’t really thought about it but it is in the back of my mind. I feel like I have a lot more confidence this year playing a bigger role. I’m just trying to get my feet under me at the start of the season.”
How do you deal with the pressures of playing in front of scouts?
“If I come each game with a lot of work ethic and play the way I can, things will just happen for me and take care of themselves.”
How much did playing a full season last year help you to prepare for what to expect this year?
“Last year was a big change from Midget, obviously. This year feels like I have a whole year of experience. I got to play a lot in the second half last year and I think that gave me a lot of confidence in my game. This year I feel like a way different player.”
In your game, what do you feel you do best out there?
“I think my speed and my ability to find players in front of the net and shooting in stride, things like that. I think if there is anything I could work on it’d be the defensive side of the game. That’s what we’re trying to get better at.”
For you personally, how do you stay level in this year?
“The biggest thing for me is to not worry about the point production or how much ice time I’m getting. Just worrying about my own game and working on the things I can get better at is the biggest thing. When things are going your way you can’t get too ahead of yourself and when things aren’t going your way you can’t get too down on yourself.”