2011 Draft Class: Duncan Siemens
Saskatoon defenceman ranks 10th among North American Skaters by CSS
"I got started in hockey so young, because my parents would always watch hockey and I fell in love with the game watching it," he said. "I told my parents that I wanted to play when I was old enough."
His parents accommodated the request, boosting a prospective career in the process.
It’s no surprise, really, that a well-rounded defenceman could climb the ranks in such dramatic fashion. Siemens, 17, had an outstanding sophomore season with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. In 72 regular season games, the 6’3", 193-pound blueliner amassed five goals and 43 points, second-best among defencemen on his talented Saskatchewan squad.
In doing so, his 14th overall mid-season ranking among North American skaters improved to 10th by season’s end. Team-wise, the Blades concluded their 72-game schedule atop the Eastern Conference standings with 56 wins and 115 points. Although there was progress in that regard, a post-season letdown stunted an otherwise promising spring outlook.
"The 2010-11 season went very well for us during regular season play. It brought a lot of success and recognition towards the organization," Siemens said. "However, the playoffs were a very big disappointment for the team."
Saskatoon dropped the Eastern Conference Semi-Final series in a sweep to the Kootenay Ice, who have since advanced to the Ed Chynoweth Cup Final against the Portland Winterhawks -- two teams with historical ties to Edmonton, ironically enough.
With the disappointment in mind, Siemens believes the 2010-11 campaign was a successful one from a personal standpoint. Even so, there’s an understanding that further improvement is necessary to achieve success at the next level.
"Personally I was pleased with the way that my season went," he explained. "I feel that I developed all areas of my game from the beginning to the end of the year. But there are still many areas that I can improve on, including quicker recovery after a weak game and contributing more offensively."
Doing so will pave another stone in his path to future NHL excellence. With two full seasons under his belt in Saskatoon, Siemens has developed several skills that have already drawn comparisons to some of the league’s most elite athletes.
He’s a strong, powerful skater that has the ability to hunt and capture speedy opposition forwards. While quickness is another strong suit, his lengthy stride makes for a commanding top speed that helps him pursue an offensive opportunity or defensive responsibility in full stride.
Skating is only the beginning. Siemens’ physical edge is intimidating, his passing is unheralded and his leadership qualities are outstanding for a budding young prospect.
It’s a concoction that mirrors his pro-league role model. Nashville Predators captain and Canadian gold medalist Shea Weber plays within a similar role, which includes the dynamic scoring touch that Siemens has developed well over the past two seasons.
During his rookie year in 2009-10, Siemens collected 17 helpers. This past season, he produced 38 in an increased role (and with an additional 15 games, mind you).
"I feel that the large increase in assists over the season is due to a number of reasons," Siemens explained. "Getting power-play time definitely helped, as well as the scoring ability of my teammates; the improvement of being able to find an open guy, too."
Accomplishing his 21-assist gain was credited to more than a simple rise in development. The all-around rearguard believes setting explicit pre-season goals helped him focus on what he wanted to improve throughout the year.
"I set statistical goals of doubling my point total from the previous year, as well as being amongst the top in the league in plus/minus," Siemens said. "I also set the goal of being a player who my team can rely on in key situations such as PP, PK, and being out there in the last minute of a game."
All those areas saw improvement as the season progressed. His plus/minus total rounded out at plus-40, while his scoring totals improved dramatically. Adding these valuable skills to an already extensive on-ice collection should forecast a promising future.
"I feel that I will be able to take my defensive play, including my physicality and skating to the next level if the opportunity presents itself. Now that the season is over, I’m very excited for the upcoming draft."
Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com