Center Paul Gaustad is in his third year with the Rochester Americans. Despite his regular season point total tapering off from 53 in 2002-03 to 31 in 2003-04, the gritty Gaustad had a productive 2004 playoffs with three goals and 10 assists in 16 games to go along with 30 penalty minutes. The 6’5, 220-pounder was a seventh round selection of the Sabres in 2000 out of Portland (WHL).
Hockey’s Future spoke to Gaustad after the Americans’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Admirals in Nashville on Saturday.
HF: The linemates that you had tonight, (Daniel) Paille and (Chris) Thorburn, do you think this will be your set line going forward?
PG: In the preseason we played a little bit together, but I think we compliment each other’s game pretty well. I don’t know if they’re going to keep us together all season, but if we play like we did in the second period, I think there’s a good chance we’ll stick together.
HF: How do you think you compliment each other, what is each guy’s role?
PG: I think all three of us kind of keep it simple, we know our roles and we try to fill each other’s lane and talk. We all have the same kind of mentality of getting the puck in deep and hitting and just keeping it simple.
HF: How does this line differ from the line you played on last year?
PG: Danny’s complimenting, he’s got the whole package, he can score, he can pass, and do everything so that helps. But Geoff Peters was a good linemate on the left side. Thorburn was on my right side last year, so I think we know each other pretty well, and Paillesie’s kind of thrown in now.
HF: Last year you had a point drop in the regular season but a good playoffs, can you talk about what happened there?
PG: I think it was just kind of a role situation. My first year a lot of guys got injured on the power play and I got thrown into that mix and I was clicking on the power play on the first unit there. Then last year we didn’t have as many injuries and my role was a little bit different as a checking center, so I didn’t have the opportunity on the power play but that was fine. I knew my role on the PK. I think that’s a significant reason that I dropped off. But I’m just going to try to play the way Buffalo wants me to play and to my strong points, which is a checking forward and filling in everywhere.
HF: What has Buffalo told you that you want you to work on?
PG: Just kind of the overall game, my skating. Improve every aspect of my game as much as possible. Definitely my foot speed needs to get better. I think I’m improving on that the last three years.
HF: Do you really enjoy the PK?
PG: Yeah, Paille is with me this year and we’re working pretty well together. It’s one of the strong points I think of my game.
HF: You got into one NHL game two years ago, how do you think you did?
PG: It was fun, I mean, I tried to enjoy it as much as possible. I wasn’t expecting to stay up for too long because it was just an injury. But I had a blast, it was a dream of mine. I was kind of in awe and shock when I was up there, but hopefully I can get back up there.
HF: What do you remember most, is there anything that sticks in your mind about it?
PG: I think I was out there for a shift – I wasn’t supposed to be out there against (Peter) Forsberg, but I was (laughing), so that was kind of funny. So just playing against him.
HF: You’ve pretty much played every game for several years, how do you stay injury-free?
PG: Knock on wood, just preparation, taking care of yourself off the ice. I think that’s a big part of the pro game. I’ve been working hard on that as well.
HF: Do you have any personal goals for this season?
PG: Just trying to improve myself as much as possible and help the team win. I mean, when the team’s successful, personal success will follow, so just try to get better as the year goes on.
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