A player’s development is often judged by statistics. But numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
Case in point is Quinnipiac University junior defenseman Devon Toews. The Abbotsford, BC native is currently amongst the top scoring defensemen in the nation with 30 points (seven goals, 23 assists). But his numbers are just one part of his tremendous developmental progress that has come from hard work in virtually all aspects of both his game and in his physical maturity.
“I think for being a small guy coming to Quinnipiac, I needed to get bigger and stronger,” Toews explained. “The college game has allowed me to do that. I’m able to workout two or three times a week all year round, so that’s been one of the big things. I also think that I’ve improved my skating a lot and my hockey IQ. I think a lot of parts of my game have developed since coming to Quinnipiac.”
One person that has been instrumental in Toews’ development at Quinnipiac is current assistant coach and former Bobcats All-American defenseman, Reid Cashman.
“I think a lot of the things he’s taught me are about developing these little habits, whether it’s in shoulder checking, or where my hands are on the stick when receiving a pass or about to take a shot,” Toews said of Cashman’s tutelage. “At least once a week, me and a couple of other defensemen will go out on the ice with him and we’ll work on little habits that sometimes you veer away from during the course of the season.”
A notable area where Toews’ game has matured is the balance he has struck between creating offense and being defensively sound in his own end. Toews credits another former Bobcats’ defenseman for the latter.
“I learned a lot from Dan Federico, who was my defensive partner last season,” said Toews. “I was able to watch and see what he did. This year, I’m playing more minutes and taking on more responsibilities, so I’ve been able to learn about how to play better and more defensively from watching Dan.”
Toews’ progress certainly isn’t lost on the New York Islanders, the team that drafted him in the fourth round (108th overall) in 2014. Toews has a very good relationship with the Islanders and notes that they do keep a close watch on him.
“They come out and watch me pretty consistently,” Toews said of his potential NHL team. “Eric Cairns comes out and watches me a lot. He doesn’t distract me much when he does come to see me, but sometimes we’ll talk afterwards about how and where to improve, and what I did well. I like being critiqued like that because it helps me get better.”
Like all other prospects, Toews hopes to be playing in the NHL one day. But right now, there’s a more important task at hand.
“I think all year round, Quinnipiac has proven to be a high-end team,” said Toews of his top-ranked team. “We’re here (at the Frozen Four) to win and compete with these prominent organizations that have won multiple national championships. And we want to try to get to that same stage and make a name for ourselves starting this weekend.”
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