Courtesy of Point Park University

Addison’s numbers add up to promising future


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Calen Addison at development camp Wednesday. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Scouts like Calen Addison's skating and his offensive instincts, the way he moves the puck and how he is committed at both ends of the ice.

All of that is understandable, but perhaps what they should appreciate most about Addison, a defenseman who was the Penguins' second-round draft choice in 2018, is his consistency.

At least they should if his offensive output with Lethbridge in the Western Hockey League during the past two seasons is taken at face value.

Addison had 11 goals and 54 assists in 67 games with the Hurricanes in 2018-19. The previous season, he had 11 goals and 54 assists in, uh, 68 games.

While the Penguins are predictably excited about a defenseman who averaged nearly a point per game in consecutive seasons, those numbers aren't the only reason they believe he has a promising future. They might not even be the biggest one.

"Everything's not stats," said director of player developmentĀ Scott Young after the first day of their development camp Wednesday. "We love the way he moves the puck, his vision, his poise with the puck, his skating ability, his hockey sense. They're all elite parts of his game."

Nonetheless, it's hard to ignore that almost every statistic associated with Addison is impressive. Except, that is, for the vital ones.

He is listed as 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, and it's not out of the question that both of those totals have been rounded up. Even if Addison grows a bit before he is NHL-ready, probably in two or three years, he will be forced to deal with opposing forwards who enjoy a significant size advantage.

While that facet of his game remains a work-in-progress, Addison is learning ways to offset deficits in inches and pounds.

"It's just being smart, defensively," he said. "I've tried to learn to defend more with my feet and my mind and my stick. I know I'm not going to be able to hammer guys off the puck every time they have it."

Young agreed that undersized defensemen can be effective in their own zone if they go about it the right way.

"Smaller guys defending bigger guys in their own end, there's no use trying to outmuscle them," he said. "There are ways to win battles and win pucks. He'll have to work on that. Every guy who's a little bit smaller has to work on those things, but he's a smart enough player (to adapt).

"There are smaller guys in the league on D who do well in their own zone because they're smart. You're not going to go up against a Joe Thornton or a Nathan MacKinnon or some of these big guys and try to outmuscle them. It's kind of a waste of energy. Be in the right defensive position and try to win the puck battle."

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