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Focus on defensive game necessary for Penguins' pick Addison

Offensive defenseman Calen Addison glad to get NHL taste alongside Lethbridge teammate after campfire accident.

Calen Addison doesn’t hold back when asked to describe his playing style. “Offense is my thing,” he said. “I like to skate and have the puck and be creative all over the ice. I’m really trying to work on my defensive game, because I know if I’m going to make it to the next level I’ve got to be able to defend harder.”

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Addison used his skill set to make a good impression on coach Tim Hunter at the World Junior Summer Showcase, leading Team Canada’s defensemen with six points and showing his fiery side when he mixed it up with Team USA star blueliner Quinn Hughes.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound defenseman, who models his game after Colorado’s mobile Tyson Barrie, was thrilled to be drafted 53rd overall by Pittsburgh in June. “I don’t think there’s a better team for me to go to in terms my position, being right-handed and the style of game I play,” said the native of Brandon, Man.

Still, it was hard not to be awestruck when he attended his first development camp with the Penguins. “It’s so high-end, and there’s so many high-end guys there, like Mario Lemieux,” Addison said. “Also, seeing Sidney Crosby a couple of days there was pretty cool.”

One disappointment for Addison was not getting to go through the development camp experience with his Lethbridge Hurricanes captain. Center Jordy Bellerive was signed by the Penguins as a free agent in September 2017 after going undrafted, but he was one of three Hurricanes players who were badly burned in a campfire accident outside Calgary in mid-June. “Those guys are three of my best friends,” Addison said. “It made for a couple of hard weeks for me. I’m glad they’re doing better now.”

Bellerive was released from hospital in late June and continued his rehab through the summer. He and Addison reunited on the ice for Penguins’ training camp in September before being sent back to Lethbridge. Perhaps one day they’ll play together in Pittsburgh.

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This story appears in the Prospects Unlimited 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.

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