July 16, 2019

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Opinion

Samberg moves up list of prospects

Jets' player pipeline brimming with talent

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press</p><p>Dylan Samberg celebrates a goal for the United States against the Czech Republic during the IIHF world juniors quarter-final hockey action in Victoria in January.</p>

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

Dylan Samberg celebrates a goal for the United States against the Czech Republic during the IIHF world juniors quarter-final hockey action in Victoria in January.

Dylan Samberg admits there may not be a whole lot of flash and dash to his game. But the Winnipeg Jets draft pick is trending up these days, playing a shutdown style on defence that has many hoping for a long and prosperous NHL career.

Samberg, 20, was a big part of the United States squad that captured the silver medal at the world junior championship in January in B.C., with two assists in seven games and a plus-three rating. He’s also having a stellar sophomore season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth team that is currently ranked third in the U.S.

“I feel like I’ve definitely progressed as the season’s been going along. I feel like the world juniors really helped me with my confidence again, going back there. I really wanted to just kind of hone in on some of my skills, keep progressing with my game. I feel like I’m doing that, and I feel like I keep doing that as the season goes along,” Samberg told the Free Press this week in a telephone interview.

Samberg, chosen by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round (43rd overall) in the 2017 draft, is one of the most intriguing prospects in the team’s pipeline. His name has even come up this week as a potential target for the Ottawa Senators in ongoing trade talks surrounding forward Mark Stone.

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Dylan Samberg admits there may not be a whole lot of flash and dash to his game. But the Winnipeg Jets draft pick is trending up these days, playing a shutdown style on defence that has many hoping for a long and prosperous NHL career.

Samberg, 20, was a big part of the United States squad that captured the silver medal at the world junior championship in January in B.C., with two assists in seven games and a plus-three rating. He’s also having a stellar sophomore season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth team that is currently ranked third in the U.S.

Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files</p><p>Jets prospect Dylan Samberg (left, upending Russia’s Vitali Kravtsov) is progressing in his second season of U.S. college hockey.</p>

Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files

Jets prospect Dylan Samberg (left, upending Russia’s Vitali Kravtsov) is progressing in his second season of U.S. college hockey.

"I feel like I’ve definitely progressed as the season’s been going along. I feel like the world juniors really helped me with my confidence again, going back there. I really wanted to just kind of hone in on some of my skills, keep progressing with my game. I feel like I’m doing that, and I feel like I keep doing that as the season goes along," Samberg told the Free Press this week in a telephone interview.

Samberg, chosen by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round (43rd overall) in the 2017 draft, is one of the most intriguing prospects in the team’s pipeline. His name has even come up this week as a potential target for the Ottawa Senators in ongoing trade talks surrounding forward Mark Stone.

And why not? The left-shot blue-liner has got plenty of size at 6-4 and 215 pounds, and makes life miserable for opponents. He’s also added a lot more offence this year, with five goals and five assists in 25 NCAA Division 1 games this season after putting up one goal and 12 assists in 42 games as a freshman.

"I think a lot of that (offence) comes with experience. I’ve got a year under my belt now, and kind of know how the college game works at this level. I started to shoot the puck more. I haven’t hit the net as much as I’ve wanted to. Obviously, some of it’s working out for me. But, really, my defensive game is my strong suit. But if I can help out offensively, that’s definitely a bonus," said Samberg, who also played in the 2018 world juniors in Buffalo, N.Y.

Samberg, a product of Hermantown, Minn., said he’s long been a fan of Marco Scandella, a Minnesota Wild draft pick who is now playing with the Buffalo Sabres. Scandella, 28, has played more than 500 games in his NHL career.

"He’s good defensively, moves pucks well. Obviously, he can get up in the rush and create some offence," Samberg said. "I feel like my game is definitely defensive, I like to be a shutdown defenceman. I also like to get up in the play and create some offence. But you’ve gotta do defence first to create some offence."

His college team, 18-8-2 on the year, was getting ready this week to play a pair of games just a couple hours down the highway from Winnipeg, at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., on Friday night and tonight.

Samberg has kept a close eye on the Jets this season and had plenty of contact with the organization. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was in Vancouver to watch the world juniors, and director of player development Jimmy Roy and assistant of player development Mike Keane have visited Samberg on multiple occasions.

"They really help me with how I’m doing and everything, and really pointing me in the right direction with my development," Samberg said.

Could that direction include turning pro after this season rather than returning for his junior season?

"Really, right now, I’m just trying to worry about this season and go from there. Probably more than likely wait until after the season until I make any decision. I don’t want to make anything too quickly," he said.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

 

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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