By his own admission, National Hockey League teams haven’t been beating down the door of 2012 draft eligible Jaynen Rissling.
The Calgary Hitmen defenseman isn’t about to get blue about it, either.
“(I’ve) just kept an even keel, really,” Rissling said. “Not too many teams have came up to me, but it’s more motivation to work harder and get noticed a little bit more. I just use it as motivation to use my game.”
A candidate to be selected in this June’s Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, Rissling is well aware of the shortcomings that has limited interest from NHL clubs.
“Obviously I’ve got to improve on my foot speed,” he admitted. “It’s always been a bit of a question mark for me and I need to shoot the puck more. If I start doing those a little better, maybe I can get noticed more.”
But there is also a lot to like in the six-foot-four, 222-pound package in his third Western Hockey League season.
“My physicality has been pretty good,” Rissling said. “I’ve had the most fights I’ve had in my career so far. I’m getting big hits and helping the team with energy levels is something I’ve helped the team with.”
Rissling has dropped the gloves 10 times this season.
“You just do what you can as a bigger guy to protect your team and lay down the law on the ice,” he said. “It’s something I take pride in. It’s my third year in the league. It’s expected. I try to do the best I can with it.”
Hitmen coach Mike Williamson believes the 18-year-old can be more than just an intimidating force that chucks knuckles.
“I think he has a little more,’ Williamson said. “He’s got good vision and puck sense as well. It’s important he takes care of those other things first, (but) everything else is icing on the cake.”
It may take Rissling a little longer to show his extra skills. The Edmonton, AB. product missed over a month late in the season after undergoing knee surgery.
“It was just arthroscopic,” he explained. “I wasn’t too into it. I was pretty drugged up. It feels great now that I can get back to doing what I was doing before.”
But again, Rissling’s absence may have hindered his draft stock.
“It hurt missing 15 games with the injury, it hurt my profile,” said Rissling, who still managed a career-high 23 points this season. “I got back into it more and finished off on a pretty high note.”
The highest note for Rissling’s season to finish on would be to garner a selection in Pittsburgh. Regardless, the level-headed blueliner isn’t about to get too high or too low.
“I’m just going to try to keep an even keel going into it,” Rissling said. “Things could either go really good or not the way I want. Whatever happens, I’m just going to keep going the best way I can and keep going from there.”
And use it as motivation, regardless of the outcome.