David Musil doesn't appear interested in acting his age again.
The Vancouver Giants defenceman, who came off like a seasoned WHL veteran much of last year despite being a 16-year-old rookie, insists that he has much more to give this second time around.
He might be right. He says he put on 24 pounds from the opening of training camp last season to the close of the playoffs. He tied it to changes in diet, after moving here from the Czech Republic, and a more stringent off-ice weight lifting program, under Giants strength and conditioning coach Ian Gallagher, than he had with his Czech team.
As much he could find out about Canadian junior hockey from his father, former Edmonton Oilers defenceman turned scout Frank Musil, last year was still a test drive for him. This year, the prospective 2011 NHL first round draft pick has a much better idea of where he needs to get and how to get there.
He did head back to the Czech Republic this summer with his family, but Gallagher sent a workout program with him. Between that and training with his former club team, Musil dropped 14 pounds in the off-season. To offer some idea of where he's at, the 6-foot-3, 200 pounder won the team's annual Grouse Grind Challenge in a team-record time of 36 minutes even. According to the Giants, he knocked 30 seconds off Matt Strong's club mark from last year.
"I think last year was an eye opener for him, to see how guys trained on our team," said Neil Manning, 19, a Vancouver blueliner. "This shows he worked really hard in the summer and he's ready to be a big part of our blueline corps again this year.
"It's exciting to see a player who is going to get drafted high this year and if he keeps working, we all expect him to play in the NHL in the near future. It's exciting to be able to play with him and help him out and obviously learn from him, too."
On the ice so far, Musil does look quicker and more in control. Off the ice, he seems more comfortable, too. He shied away from interviews a season ago, seemingly worried about his English.
"I felt better when I came back this time," said Musil, who had seven goals, 32 points, a plus-33 rating and 67 penalty minutes in 71 regular season games last season. "You have the old group, the guys you know. It's a great feeling coming back."
Musil, 17, even joked Sunday about the possibility of having family bragging rights when it comes to the draft. His dad went 38th overall to the Minnesota North Stars in 1983. His uncle, Bobby Holik, was the 10th overall selection in 1989, going to the Hartford Whalers.
He could do it. There are assorted draft pundits that he have him as a possible top-five selection. Teams like the Vancouver Canucks are forever searching for big, rangy reargaurds.
"That would be awesome to be in front of them," he smiled.