It was only a year ago that Jonathan Sigalet was a 19-year-old undrafted defenseman playing at Bowling Green State University.
In the summer of 2005, he was chosen by the Boston Bruins in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft, and quickly began the momentous transition from college sophomore to professional hockey player. Sigalet signed his first contract shortly after he was drafted, and now, more than 50 games into his rookie year, he’s learning on the job in the AHL.
“It’s been good so far, I’m enjoying my time a lot here,” he said recently. “The staff and the older guys here have been helpful, too, with making the adjustment to the American League.”
Sigalet played two years of college hockey at Bowling Green and completed the 2004-05 season with a modest 16 points and 36 penalty minutes in 35 games. Following the 2005 draft, Sigalet attended training camp with both Boston, and was assigned to Providence at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.
A highly intelligent player with a good grasp of the game, one of his strongest assets is his skating ability. He’s able to move from one end of the ice to another quickly, eluding his opponents and often beating them to the puck. He also demonstrates excellent puck control and has a quick, accurate shot.
Still only 6’1 185lbs, Sigalet has some trouble out-muscling opposing players and does not bring much of a physical game. He needs to continue to gain strength so that he can better stand his ground along the boards and in corners. The NHL is still likely a couple years away for Sigalet, but if he continues to improve his play at the AHL level alongside brother Jordan, his speed, hockey intelligence and offensive upside could make him a successful third or fourth defenseman.
“The coaches have shown confidence in me, putting me in power-play situations and things like that,” he told Hockey’s Future. “It’s helped me feel a lot more confident out there. I’m also getting used to playing with the guys and beginning to get some chemistry with them, too.”
Sigalet wasted little time putting up points, scoring a goal in each of his first two professional games. He’s currently the top scoring defenseman for the baby B’s with 28 points in 55 games, including four multiple-point games and two power-play goals. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but Sigalet is gaining confidence, and is quickly figuring out the differences between the college and the pro game.
“There’s a lot more control in the program,” he explained. “Here the guys think the game a lot better. Other teams are better at taking away passes, getting in my lanes, and overall positioning seems to be a lot more consistent with opposing teams.”
Much of Sigalet’s skill and talent is still raw, but he’s had ample playing time in different situations as well as with different defensive partners. While it’s certainly the job of a good farm system to get the younger guys playing regularly and at a higher level, injuries, call-ups and a larger than normal rookie class have made it necessary for the team to rely more heavily on rookie contribution. Head Coach Scott Gordon and his staff have spent much of the time emphasizing the importance of positioning and focusing their efforts on keeping play in their offensive zone.
“I think it always takes a while when you go to a new staff to figure out what they expect of you,” admitted the young defenseman. “But I have a better idea now. I still have a lot of work left to do, a lot of room left for improvement, and hopefully they can help me do that.”
One of the most striking things about talking with Jonathan Sigalet is how levelheaded he seems. He’s at once confident and motivated to succeed, while maintaining a realistic attitude about the work necessary to find that success, and so far, he’s exceeded expectations at the pro level.
Sigalet suffered a concussion in mid February and missed a handful of games, but he made a strong return to the lineup Feb. 24 and went on to put up six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in three consecutive games. There is little doubt he’s finding his place on this team and creating a promising future for himself in the Bruins organization. For now, he’s happy where he is.
“Providence is a great town. Hockey is pretty popular here, and the better we do, the more fans seem to be watching.”
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.