Defenseman Chad Denny has some showman in him, and he’s drawn some oohs and aahs from the spectators gathered at Thrashers 2006 Prospect Development Camp with his offensive skill.
The 19-year-old is coming off a great year for the Lewiston MAINEiacs in the QMJHL, putting up 47 points in 62 games, including 19 goals. He was a surprise to many this season, but not the Thrashers, who took him in the second round in the 2005 draft.
Denny was selected with a pick obtained by the Thrashers as they hoped and guessed that his former, and perhaps future, teammate Alex Bourret would still be available later in the first round.
So far it looks like a great decision. Among Denny’s many good qualities: broad skills with the puck including a howitzer of a slapshot, hockey smarts, and a physical presence. His big frame at 6’2, 210 pounds and good mobility allow him to throw some truly devastating hits.
With 150 penalty minutes, he’ll fight when he needs to. But if the players in the Quebec league want to goad him into a fight, they’ll have to do it in English, as he doesn’t speak any French.
Denny took on a greater offensive role this season, but stayed solid defensively, leading his team in plus/minus with +16. He finished third on the team in shots, and had eight power-play goals.
Denny, from the Mi’kmaq tribe of Nova Scotia, has gotten to know a bit about Eastern Europe as well this year. He was paired with Slovakian Michal Korenko during the season, and he’s rooming with Czech Tomas Pospisil this week at Thrashers camp.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Denny after one of the sessions.
HF: You had quite a good season this past year.
CD: Yeah, it went pretty good this year. This is one of the best years I’ve had in juniors. I’m hoping just to get better and better.
HF: Did you surprise even yourself with how much scoring you did?
CD: Yeah, I think I did (laughing). I didn’t expect to do that much. I just took what came and took advantage of my chances.
HF: How did your role change? Did you get more power play time?
CD: Yeah, I played more in different situations when the coach shortened the bench – power play, PK, even sometimes when there was a minute left in the third period. Five on six, I was out there.
HF: You’ve played some wing over time. How did that get started?
CD: It was back in March of 2005. In February I was diagnosed with mono. It was the last game of the season and I was ready to come back. The coaches wanted me to get back in shape so he threw me up front and used me as a forward.
HF: And then again this year you played some?
CD: Yeah, I played a couple games up front this year. Every now and then. Maybe odd shifts in a game, like two or three shifts.
HF: (Nathan) Oystrick left camp with mono – how bad did you feel when you had it and how long were you out?
CD: It didn’t hit me as hard as it hits some people. I was only out for four weeks. I was back in the game right at the four-week mark. You’re just tired and just laid back. You don’t feel like doing much at all.
HF: Did you lose weight?
CD: No, actually I didn’t.
HF: What do you think is your most underrated feature?
CD: I can play both positions without getting mixed up. I can play forward and then defense the next shift. It was hard at first, then I just moved along with it.
HF: You weren’t invited to the Canadian junior team tryouts this year (despite going last year), was that a big disappointment for you?
CD: A little at first, but I just have to move along, start worrying about next season, Thrashers camp. MAINEiacs camp is coming up on August 14. Life goes on.
HF: How do you feel like camp is going for you?
CD: I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I haven’t skated much this summer at all. I’m getting better and better.
HF: Is it what you expected?
CD: I think it’s a pretty good camp – one of the best camps I’ve been to since I started playing hockey. The atmosphere, the guys are a lot older and stronger. Everything is professional.
HF: Is it the best competition you’ve faced?
CD: Yeah, I think so. In hockey, what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it.
HF: What is your goal for next year?
CD: My goal right now is just to have a great season. I know I have a different role back in Lewiston. I’ll be a four-year veteran along with some other guys.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.