Keep your head up.
It’s what opposing Western Hockey League forwards have learned when coming down the wing against the Saskatoon Blades.
More specifically: Duncan Siemens.
Siemens, ranked 11th in Future Considerations’ final ranking for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, will not hesitate to throw the body around.
“My style is more of a shutdown defenseman, hard to play against, physical,” Siemens said. “I like to contribute offensively as best I can but (I’m) definitely more of a shutdown defenseman that plays with an edge.”
Or his fists, for that matter.
Siemens dropped the gloves seven times during his draft year. Eight if you count the dust up in the CHL Top Prospects Game against fellow draft eligible David Musil.
“I’m definitely willing to go out there and by all means protect a teammate at any point in time,” the six-foot-two, 190-pounder said.
His bench boss agreed.
“He’s a player that will never back down,” Blades head coach Lorne Molleken said. “He’s a player that will always stick up for his teammates.”
His physical nature shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he grew up idolizing legendary blueliner, Scott Stevens.
“Stevens is someone I grew up watching and always liked watching him play,” Siemens revealed. “You could see the other players out there against him didn’t particularly want to be out there because all it would take is a split second with their head down and they may not get up. He was extremely feared.”
It’s a style that sits well with Molleken.
“Duncan looks at players in the NHL like Scott Stevens in the past and Shea Weber now and that’s the type of game he tries to play,” said Molleken, who has coached hard hitting defensemen such as Rhett Warrener, Wade Belak, Cory Sarich and Barret Jackman. “When he does he’s very successful.”
But the native of Sherwood Park, AB doesn’t just lead the physical brigade on the ice. Voted to be an assistant captain in September, Siemens instead handed off the letter to teammate Stefan Elliott, who arrived back in Saskatoon after being a late cut of the Colorado Avalanche.
The idea was automatic for Siemens.
“Stefan is a tremendous leader on this hockey club,” he said. “We weren’t expecting him back. We thought he had a good chance of sticking where he was at and he was well deserving of being recognized as a leader. Being only 17 I may have some more time left with the Saskatoon Blades and have some time to represent my team as a leader. This is a very good chance that this is his last year with the club and in the league so I decided it would be appropriate to give him that honour.”
The gesture was not lost on teammate Curtis Hamilton.
“That showed a lot,” Hamilton said. “We had a team vote at the start of the year and he was voted in and when Stef came, Dunc stepped up and we weren’t really surprised by it because that’s just the kind of guy he is.”
“I think it speaks volumes about his character,” added Molleken. “He’s a young guy that puts his team first.”
First is where Siemens helped put his team in the WHL regular season standings, and it wasn’t based on strong defensive play and leadership alone.
The rugged blueliner recorded 38 assists and 43 points while playing in all 72 games this year. Not bad for a shutdown defenseman.
“We encourage him and the rest of our defensemen to get involved offensively and he’s very capable of it, Molleken said. “He can rush the puck. He sees the ice very well. There’s areas of the game he needs to work on and he’s very committed to that.”
He’s had an excellent tutor in the offensive end in Elliott, who was named the WHL’s top defenseman this season.
“I think this year he’s come out of his shell,” Hamilton said. “He gets the chance to play with Elliott who is a premiere offensive defenseman. When he gets the chance he’s got some good offensive skills too.”
Still, Siemens feels there’s room for improvement before he can wreak havoc at both ends of the rink.
“Puck handling and offensive skill are something I need to improve in my game,” Siemens admitted. “I wouldn’t say they’re underrated by any means, but maybe it’s not as noticeable due to the fact I do play a fairly physical game.”
And if he’s able to round out those skills, he’ll force opposing goalies to keep their heads up as well.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickersFC. Follow the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed at www.twitter.com/FCHockey, on YouTube at www.youtube.com/futureconsiderations and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FCHockey