For Jeremy Williams and the Swift Current Broncos, this season has been a highly successful one. The Broncos are in the middle of a division title race with the Medicine Hat Tigers and currently sit fourth in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Williams is second to teammate Tyler Redenbach for the overall points lead, and is leading the WHL’s goal scoring race. With only 10 days left in the WHL regular season, two of the Broncos remaining four games are against the first place Tigers.
In spite of the fact that Williams is involved in a heated playoff race, Hockey’s Future was able to track down the Toronto Maple Leafs 2003 seventh round draft choice for a quick interview.
HF: It’s been quite a year for you so far, both in terms of team and personal success. It must feel good to be in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference and in the race for the overall points lead. Do you and Tyler (Redenbach) ever talk or joke about who’s got the better chance to finish on top?
JW: We have a friendly competition but we don’t care who finishes first. Neither of us could do without the other so it all evens out in the end.
HF: You guys seem to have developed quite the chemistry together. What is it about each other’s game that compliments so well?
JW: Tyler is an amazing playmaker, which makes my job a bit easier. We find each other all over the ice, which gives us a huge advantage. He loves to pass and I love to shoot, it makes a pretty good combo.
HF>: What was your initial reaction when you got the call from the Leafs that they had drafted you? Were you disappointed at all that you didn’t go any higher?
JW: I loved the fact that Toronto drafted me. They were my favorite team when I was growing up so I loved the fact that I might be able to get the chance to wear the blue and white someday. I was a bit disappointed that I went late but I have had to work my way up in the WHL so I figure its a good challenge for myself.
HF: Did you have any idea that the Leafs were interested in drafting you?
JW: When I went to the fitness camp for the prospects in the summer I had a meeting with Barry Trapp and he said that he liked the way I play. I was actually hoping that it would happen. I played with Barry’s grandson and his son coached me. You could say that he knew a lot about me.
HF: When you attended Leafs camp this offseason, what was that experience like and did they send you back with anything in particular they wanted you to work on?
JW: It was great experience, everyone there showed a lot of poise. It would have been nice to see the NHL guys but these guys are a step under and could play there at anytime. The skill level was extremely high and it made the game a lot simpler. You don’t have to worry about taking a puck off your skates; it’s on your stick most of the time.
HF: In making the jump to the next step at the professional level, what area’s do you feel need improvement in your game?
JW: I mean, I think a player can work on things his entire career, but for me my main concern is conditioning and defensive play. Offence seems to come naturally to me but the other things I definitely have to work on. My skating is also something that could always use work. I have worked on it in the past summer but it could definitely use more work.
HF: Players or prospects who are under 6’0 tall are often criticized for being too small for today’s NHL game. What are your thoughts on this issue and do you think it is unfair?
JW: I think that it is an unfair judgment but if you are a smaller player you have to be quick and smart. The game has bigger stronger guys playing in it and if you aren’t quick you are going to get pounded on.
HF: Teammate Ian White is also a Leafs draft pick. What has he told you about the organization after being drafted last year?
JW: When Ian came back from Leafs camp he told me that it was very professional. It was a lot of hard work but at the same time he had a great time in his stay in Toronto.
HF: What about some of the other Leaf draft picks in the WHL currently, guys like Martin Sagat, Tyson Marsh, Todd Ford and Shaun Landolt. Could you give us your opinion on them?
JW: I got to play on a line with Sagat in training camp, which went very well he sees the ice very good. Marsh is a strong defenseman that doesn’t let you score easily. He makes you make a good play. I got to play with Fordo in Swifty and he is definitely going to go somewhere. He’s tall and can move side to side well. When the kid is on his knees he still covers the top of the net. Shaun has an all round game in my eyes. He can put the puck in the net when he wants to and also seems defensively sound whenever we play them.
HF: Were you disappointed that you weren’t invited to the Canadian World Junior Camp?
JW: There was definitely a bit of disappointment. I thought I played well enough to at least get a try out but things weren’t meant to be I guess. I was more surprised that Redi didn’t get a tryout. He’s a playmaker and I think they could have used him. I guess they had a plan though and maybe I am wrong.
HF: Have you thought at all about your plans for next season? You have some options, depending on whether you sign with the Leafs, you could play in the AHL or you could return for your overage season with Swift Current.
JW: I am definitely looking forward to trying out with the baby Leafs this fall but with the lockout who knows what will happen. I have a lot of work ahead of me this summer to try and improve on some things. If there is no NHL next season I will definitely be back in Swifty which is ok with me too, although I would like to go to the next level.
HF: To date what is the most memorable hockey moment of your life?
JW: Most people have a good memory for these but for me it is the other way around. My memorable moment happened last year in the playoffs when we were knocked out in the first round to the Tigers. We hadn’t lost to them the entire year and then they dominated us and swept us 4 straight. I will never forget that moment in the dressing room after the fourth game and looking into the eyes of guys like Ben Ondrus and James Hiebert who put so much time in Swift Current and the WHL. Having to go out like that was awful for me but was probably ten times worse for them.
HF: Did you have a favorite NHL player growing up?
JW: I guess you could say I had two favorites, one of them being Wayne Gretzky and the other being Doug Gilmour. I think everybody loved Gretzky back then and I was also on the wagon. But the Leafs being my favorite team, I loved Gilmour. He was small but deadly and I was hoping I could someday fill his skates.
HF: Is there is a current NHL player that you could compare yourself to or try to model your game after?
JW: I don’t really have someone like that at the moment. I believe that every player is different in some way and I am trying to make my mould as best as possible.