Hi Alex,

It’s been a few weeks since school… I mean, the season ended. The Stanley Cup has been awarded and the off-season has officially begun. Hopefully, you got a chance to unwind and rest up, because now it’s time to start getting ready for next season.

Let’s be honest; the year didn’t go exactly as you’d hoped. Sure, the run was a lot of fun and you played fairly regularly. In fact, by some measures, you scored at the rate of a second line right winger. But, being a healthy scratch in the playoffs underscored that there are issues with your game. So, I’d like to make some suggestions to help make next season a coming out party for Alex Chaisson.

Go to YouTube and type in “Dave Andreychuk goals” (or, just click the link I made there.)

This might be the easiest part of your summer training. Just sit back and watch any and every highlight you can of old “Woody”. Too young to remember his game? Let me refresh your memory. Dave Andreychuk was a big guy (just like you) and not a great skater (you’re better than he ever was). Always considered a scoring winger, he was reasonably responsible in his own zone, as evidenced by his being considered for the Selke in 1996-97 (he finished 11th in voting). While he played most of his career in the run-and-gun 80s and slow-as-molasses, obstruction-filled 90s, his career lasted well into the new century, finishing up the season after the lockout year (2005-06) with 42 games played, 18 points and 13:26 minutes TOI at the age of 42.

So, back to the highlights. Notice how he never ranges farther than 10-15 feet from the net in the offensive zone? See how he uses his long reach to snap up rebounds and put them past the goalie any way he can? Consider how he plants his feet directly in front of the goalie with no regard for personal safety so that his ass is literally all the keeper can see as Dave tips pucks into the net.

See, here’s the thing: I think you can have a long and successful NHL career, just like Dave did, if you model your game after his. You have the same reach, the same build. You’re a better skater than he was, but that just means you can get into position faster at both ends of the ice. By focusing on your strengths (size, reach, power in close) in the offensive zone and being responsible on defence, you will make yourself, at worst, a useful NHL player. And, at best… well, you never know. Andreychuk played for more than two decades in the NHL and was a top six winger for a lot of those years. Dare to dream, Alex.

See you in September,