Selected in the 4th round, 126th overall in the 1999 draft, Jeff Bateman fit in with the Stars’ propensity to select character forwards at the time. Jeff Bateman will probably spend the majority of the year with Utah further refining and adjusting his game to the pros.
During a break between sessions at the Dallas Stars’ Rookie Camp, Bateman graciously took the time out to answer a few quick questions for Hockey’s Future.
Hockey’s Future: Were you expecting to be drafted in your draft year, or was it a surprise?
Jeff Bateman: I didn’t expect to be drafted. I had just finished my first year, and even though I was on the draft list, I saw being drafted as just a bonus.
HF: What type of player were you in the OHL, and how has that translated to the pros?
JB: I was more of a playmaker in the OHL. This year my goal and point totals weren’t as high as I was used to, but I wasn’t expecting a lot of ice time or power play time just yet. I just wanted to fill my role and try to earn more ice time with hard work.
HF: Raffi Torres was on of your linemates with Brampton. What were you impressions of him?
JB: Raffi’s an amazing player. He gives 110 percent all the time. That’s why he’s one of the better players with his team in Bridgeport and in the Islanders’ system. We both worked hard, and so we seemed to feed off of each other. It was fun knowing every night we were going to go out and compete hard with each other. I think it made us both better players.
HF: Last year, you started with Ft. Worth in the Central Hockey League. Do you think that helped you to adjust before being called up to Utah?
JB: It helped a lot. I was an older player in the OHL before. Playing with men in Ft. Worth was a different experience. I got a good amount of ice time in Ft. Worth. It helped me to learn to live on my own.
HF: What kind of linemates do you enjoy having in Utah?
JB: Well, my game is that of an energy-type player, very aggressive and in your face. I like playing with the same kind of players, like Justin Cox and Barrett Heisten, guys who will go into the corners and dig.
HF: What was it like playing in the playoffs with Utah?
JB: Since it was my first year pro, it was a learning experience. I just played hard, trying to do things to get noticed so that I could earn more ice time.
HF: Dallas looks like a deep team with little room for young players. Do you think you’ll make it here, or will you have to break in elsewhere?
JB: In the pro, I’m just working as hard as I can to get noticed. I’ve got to make my own opportunity to play in the NHL. I’m hoping with my hard work someone in the league will take notice and give me a chance somewhere.
HF: What aspect of your game do you think you most need to improve this year?
JB: Definitely consistency. Like I said, this year was a learning experience. I want to be known as a go-to guy and draw a regular shift. I’ve just got to do what I do best to let everyone know all the time.