That oft-overused phrase 'go to the dirty areas' takes on new meaning with the Saginaw Spirit's Nick Moutrey.
The Saginaw Spirit wing who stands an imposing 6-foot-3, 208 pounds is on the threshold between being a safe NHL draft choice and a potential second-line forward in the big league. The biggest determinant will likely be whether the 17-year-old, who is ranked 58th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, can develop quicker feet. If that comes to be, Moutrey
"The main thing will be those first couple steps — becoming more explosive, getting those quicker feet at the start," Moutrey says. "I feel like I will do that this summer. I work with [former NHLer] Aaron Downey and he's just 10 minutes from my house.
"He doesn't really like machines, he likes doing all of work all natural," Moutrey says of training with Downey. "He'll have you going up his ropes, going through potato farms when the ground is all mushy to work on quick feet, running with weights."
Moutrey was the Spirit's 2011 first-round pick after playing minor hockey with the York-Simcoe Express. The Shelburne, Ont., native has followed the typical arc for a budding power winger. He was a fourth-line 'utility winger' for the Spirit as a rookie, helping Saginaw hand the London Knights two of their playoff losses. As a sophomore last season, Moutrey had issues with consistency but ultimately provided the Spirit with a physical dimension up front. He finished with 16 goals and 43 points in 65 games.
"I like just crashing and banging, using my body to my advantage," Moutrey says. "The more you hit, the more guys are going to confront you, but that's the game I love playing — being a big skilled power forward. That's my game."
1. How would you say your past season progressed, from start to finish?
"At the start there was a little a rough patch, Coach [Greg] Gilbert gave me a little tough love because I got off my game and wasn't being physical, which is what opens the ice for me. The second half was better. Team-wise, we did not bad by making the playoffs. It's definitely exciting for next year."
2. Whom in the NHL do you watch closely because his style of play is similar to what you aspire to?
"One of my favourite players who I try to model my game after is [Phoenix Coyotes captain] Shane Doan. He's a veteran now, but he's a leader, he's a big guy, who does whatever it takes to win and comes up big in the key moments."
3. What teammate(s) have had the largest impact on you in Saginaw?
"Probably Jake Paterson, our goalie [who was Team Canada's third-stringer at the world junior championship]. He and I are great buddies. He's always smiling, he's a great friend and I love the guy."
4. Which is your favourite road arena in the OHL? By the way, we've heard "London" as a response to this question way too often, not that it's incorrect.
"Obviously, London, you can't beat, but I'll try to be different. I like Oshawa [General Motors Centre]. It's a similar building to London but a little smaller. I always just feel like I play my best in that rink when we make our trip there."
5. Who is the toughest D-man you have faced in the OHL?
"Probably Scott Harrington [the London Knights' graduating captain]. His reach is underrated. You're going down 1-on-1 and you don't see him and bam, there he is. He's strong, too. He's an all-around great player."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.