Denver - September 22, 2014 - Steady is an adjective often used to describe the play of a defenseman.
For Colorado Avalanche defence prospect Mason Geertsen, currently playing for the Vancouver Giants, steady is also the pace of his development, as he plots a consistent course to what could very well be a career in the NHL.
Looking for a strong start, Geertsen came to the Colorado Avalanche training camp in top physical condition. Based on feedback from the Avalanche and Giants coaching staff, Geertsen’s physical testing placed him near the top of both teams in most categories. According to Geertsen his conditioning is something he strives for every year:
“Yeah it’s definitely something you try for every year; to be in the best shape you can be, to give you that edge on the ice.”
Part of that edge for Geertsen, will be to continue to flesh out his game. Coming over to Vancouver in a trade with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Geertsen struggled at times in his first year with the Giants, but took huge strides in his second season there, and was rewarded with a letter. At this point in his career, Geertsen is primarily a defensive defenseman, but with more confidence and the more ice time, the opportunity for greater production offensively may emerge.
“Yeah I think so, if I have more opportunity on the powerplay, I think the two-way play will come a lot this year.”
Geertsen approaches his game with a high level of dedication and responsibility and that is not always the case with teenage Junior hockey players. Geertsen partially credits his approach as a by-product of what was initially a negative. No player likes to be traded, but for Geertsen, the trade to Vancouver proved to be a catalyst for maturity.
“I honestly do (like the trade to Vancouver), it brought me here and it moved me out of the house, allowed me to grow by myself and mature a lot. I’m happy with it.”
With maturity often comes responsibility and accountability and Geertsen acknowledges that his game is a work in progress, but that’s ok if you’re a hard worker. The items that Geertsen require work are not uncommon for a young defenseman.
“Probably just my speed,” said Geertsen of some areas he’s focusing on improving. “And, moving the puck and making plays with the puck under pressure, and getting shots off onto the net would be the biggest thing, I think.”
The physical aspect has been Geertsen’s strong point in the past and will certainly be a factor as he prepares for his next step. At 6’3” and 212lbs., Geertsen has NHL size at 19 years of age and the willingness to use it when clearing an opposing forward, or when necessary, dropping the gloves.
“(Fighting) shifts as you get older. When I was younger and in Edmonton, I was a 5th or 6th defencemen so it was more for energy. As I got older, I played a lot more so I need to be more strategic when I fight a lot more, look for good opportunity, and sticking up more for my teammates. I think about it a little bit more than when I was younger.”
Geertsen has had his share of dance partners but one of his more memorable bouts was a back to back contest with Edmonton Oilers 2nd rounder Mitch Moroz. After the Giants rearguard scored a decisive win in his first fight with Moroz, Geertsen gave up a close decision in the re-match.
In spite of his size, Geertsen is confident, but conservative in predicting a season in major junior where the majority of the time he will have the physical advantage over his opponents.
“I feel like I should be able to (be physically imposing), “I’m not going to say I’m going to dominate everyone in the league but I feel more confident this year.”
And now with the season starting, so can the implementation of personal goals. But for Geertsen, personal and team goals tend to morph together.
“I really want to see the team do well this year, move higher in the standings and go deep in the playoffs. I’m not too worried about myself; maybe score a few more points.”
Heading into what may or may not be his last year of junior, Geertsen is reluctant to think too far in the future with respect to an NHL contract, and instead focus on what he can control.
“That’s the goal in the back of my head, get a contract or something, but I don’t want to think too far ahead, live in the moment right now, live in the here and now and go from there.”
You can watch the Colorado Avalanche in their first action of the preseason, tonight as they take on the Anaheim Ducks in a split-squad matchup.