Bowling Green has a long history of producing NHL defensemen. The list includes past stars such as Garry Galley and Dave Ellett as well as current NHLers Rob Blake, Ken Klee and Greg De Vries. Jonathan Sigalet hopes to add his name to that list, but not just yet. The highly touted freshman rearguard is eligible for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but is electing to not opt in this year.
At the midterm rankings, Sigalet was ranked 85th among North American skaters by the Central Scouting Service and 10th among eligible college players. He moved up to 55th on the Central Scouting final rankings. Even with the improved ratings, he intends to return to Bowling Green for another season with the intentions of improving his stock.
In recent years, Bowling Green has struggled, but the program shows signs of improvement. Sigalet intends to be a major factor in the school’s recovery. As a freshman, Sigalet teamed with four-year starter Kevin Bieksa to form the Falcon’s top defensive pairing. He also logged time on the top power play and penalty-killing units. It was on the power play where Sigalet excelled in his inaugural season, leading the team with 11 power play points. He received All-CCHA Rookie Team honorable mention and represented Canada at the IIHF 2004 World U-18 hockey championship in Minsk, Belarus.
Hockey’s Future recently had an opportunity to speak with Sigalet concerning the 2004 draft and his future goals with Bowling Green.
HF: With the NCAA rule change that allows 17-year-olds to opt in without forgoing your remaining eligibility, have you decided whether you will be entering the 2004 NHL draft?
JS: It looks like I am going to wait for next year’s draft.
HF: What was the biggest determination in making your decision?
JS: I just feel it gives me another year to get bigger and stronger. When I talk to most scouts, that seems to be the biggest knock against me. It gives me time to put on the weight.
HF: Did the scouts give you any indication on where they projected you to go this year?
JS: I heard it was somewhere between rounds 2 and 4.
HF: With the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire this fall, and this being the last draft under the current terms, how much did that affect your decision making process?
JS: I thought about it a little. I didn’t think it was that big of deal. I didn’t consider it that much and I’m not even worried about it to be honest.
HF: You mentioned you needed to get bigger and stronger. What are you working on this offseason to accomplish that goal?
JS: I will be going home for the offseason and right away I will start workouts with a trainer I work with back home.
HF: Can you describe your style of play?
JS: Basically, I’m an offensive-minded defenseman. My strengths are probably on the power play, my skating and creating offensive opportunities.
HF: Would you then say you still need to develop your defensive game?
JS: I’m pretty confident, but it is an area I could certainly improve on. I think that will come with getting stronger as well as helping with battling the bigger guys in the corner.
HF: Your older brother Jordan was the starting goaltender this season, how did his presence help your transition to the college game?
JS: I think it helped a lot. It allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable more quickly. Always having someone there just to support you and talk to you help you out with the little things.
HF: You were on the first unit with Kevin Bieksa and played on the first unit power play and penalty kill; where do you take your game from there?
JS: I just want to play as much as I can and help out the team as much as I can. Wherever the coaches slot me in, I will do the best I can in that role.
HF: On the top pairing, you were often matched against the opponent’s top lines, who was the toughest to line up against?
JS: The two toughest were probably…three, I’ll give you three. Rob Globke at Notre Dame, Jim Slater at Michigan State and big Dave Steckel at Ohio State. He always seemed to do well against us.
HF: With Bieksa graduating, how do you see your role changing?
JS: I’ll move into his role a bit more, I guess. He was definitely our No. 1 guy. It’ll be pretty big shoes to fill. He had an outstanding career here and I think he’s going to have an excellent pro career as well.
HF: That’s one thing about the Bowling Green program, with guys like Bieksa and Rob Blake among others, the defense seems to come out of there.
JS: We had the 1984 championship team come back here earlier this year. Garry Galley and Dave Ellett were both on that team. It was pretty neat to meet them and talk with them.
HF: What is it going to take to get Bowling Green back to that elite level?
JS: I think we are headed in the right direction with the coaching staff headed into their third year next season. We’ve gotten better every year. We have great goaltending in Jordan. He made the All-CCHA team this past season and we’ll have him back next year. The key is to keep getting the top notch recruits. There’s a great history here and great support from the fans and community so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be a top program.
HF: How would you quantify a successful season next year?
JS: Our team just has to keep getting better as we have the past few years. I think we will be shooting for home ice advantage in the playoffs. If we do that I think we would have a pretty good chance of going to the Joe because it’s a pretty hard place to play here in Bowling Green.
HF: You were recently one of only two college players to play for Canada’s Under 18 team in Belarus; how much of an adjustment was there to jump in with all of the CHL players?
JS: It wasn’t that big of an adjustment going in with the CHL guys, having known a bunch of them from before. It was definitely an adjustment going from the college game to the international game. The international game is a completely different style of hockey from what you see in the CCHA.
HF: Do you have any indication whether you will get an invitation to camp for the Canadian team this summer?
JS: I have no idea at this point. I would love to, obviously. Canada has outstanding depth with their age group a year older than me, with their 1985 born players, on defense. I think they had four first round picks that were defensemen last year. It’s a pretty hard camp to crack this year, I think.