Putting Devin Setoguchi on the ice in any situation at any time is no problem for Saskatoon Blades head coach Lorne Molleken.
And why should it be?
In his second season with the Blades, the 18-year-old Setoguchi has become a key component in the transformation of a franchise that won only seven games a season ago. With 27 more wins than last season and nine games remaining, a lot of the credit is falling on the improvement of Setoguchi, who is seeing more ice time than ever.
A part of the Saskatoon power play and penalty kill while skating a regular shift on the Blades second scoring unit, the native of Taber, Alberta has seen his numbers blossom under Molleken, who took over the head coaching duties in the offseason from Jamie Reeve. In fact, Setoguchi has nearly doubled his total offensive output from a year ago.
One season removed from a rookie campaign which saw him score 13 goals and total 31 points (finishing 14th overall in rookie scoring), the 6’0, 185lb right winger has become an offensive force in the WHL’s East Division. Through 62 games this season, Setoguchi has more then doubled his goal scoring output, with 29 goals, and a total of 56 points.
It isn’t just offensively, though, that the 2005 draft eligible forward has seen improvements in his game. Setoguchi is well aware of what he needs to do to improve his game, and to improve his chances of being selected high in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
“You’ve got to go out there and play your game,” explained Setoguchi. “You’ve got to show the scouts that you can play at both ends of the rink.”
Playing on both sides of the puck is something that Setoguchi has taken great pride in. After a tough season last season for the Saskatoon Blades that saw Setoguchi end the season at a -22, learning how to play solid defense became a goal. A season later, Setoguchi is an impressive +17, a drastic improvement from the season before.
Perhaps the most eye-opening event for scouts skeptical of the former fifth overall bantam draft selection came at the 2005 NHL Top Prospects Game held in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was there that scouts got their first glimpse as to why Setoguchi currently sits ninth in the WHL in goals scored. He had the hardest shot on the NHL skills testing day session, registering an incredible 96.4 mph shot that rivals most pro snipers.
“You need to have a good shot in order to score goals,” Setoguchi began. “I’ve been working on my shot ever since I was a little kid. That’s what my dad said – you shoot the puck hard, you score more goals. I think I have one of the hardest shots in the CHL.”
It also wasn’t the only time that fans and scouts alike heard the name Setoguchi during the weekend in Vancouver, either. Skating on a like with Kendall McArdle of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Seattle Thunderbirds center Chris Durand, the All-WHL line was one of the most effective lines in the game. Scoring three of the team’s four goals, the line was clearly the best Team Davidson had to offer.
“My line was pretty quick and pretty good,” remarked Setoguchi, as he tried to reason why the line was successful. “I thought that we went out there and gave it all we had and established some momentum on the ice and hopefully we didn’t leave anything behind.”
He left nothing behind, instead took from the weekend.
“I’m going to take away a lot of friendships,” said Setoguchi. “(This weekend) is to come here to meet the guys and the competition, but at the same time it’s to have fun and display your skills and go out there and compete.”
It’s the same reasoning Setoguchi has for his season with the Saskatoon Blades. Have fun, play hard, and compete.
It’s a formula that’s worked so far for him.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.