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Prep Watch: Blade of steel

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

If you want to catch Saskatoon Blades prospect Duncan Siemens before he hits the Western League, just head to Alberta and look up; he’ll be the 6-foot-3 defenseman knocking the other 15-year-olds into next week.

“I’m one of the bigger boys in my age group,” said Siemens, “and that showed last year.”

Indeed, with 53 points and 104 penalty minutes in 48 games, Siemens had an eventful 2007-08. But it’s his play this year with the Sherwood Park Kings of the Alberta Midget League that has him on the fast track to the Dub. In fact, the youngster suited up for the Blades in the pre-season and made his WHL debut over Christmas.

“He kept things simple and didn’t try to do too much, which is key for someone that age,” said Saskatoon assistant GM Jarrod Brodsky, who likes the blueliner’s future. “He’s a very good skater and he can basically do it all; he’s physical, has good skill, he can play the power play or take on a shutdown role.”

For Siemens, just the opportunity to suit up for the Blades this year was a treat.

“It was a great honor and the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “The first couple shifts I was a bit nervous – you don’t want to make any mistakes, but you want to feel like you’ve been there before.”

In the great Dub tradition of defensemen such as Shea Weber, Dion Phaneuf and Colten Teubert, Siemens can hit hard and models his game after a recent Hall of Famer.

“Definitely Scott Stevens,” he noted. “I like to catch guys in the train tracks.”

As for his strengths, Siemens agrees with Brodsky, citing his skating and physicality as his prominent traits. In terms of what he would like to work on, the defenseman is just as concerned with the mind as he is the body.

“The physical part of the game is important, but the mental part is just as big,” Siemens said. “You have that bad shift, you have to shake it off.”

And while Siemens’ Kings didn’t have a very good showing at the recent Mac’s midget Tournament in Calgary over Christmas, he’s already looking ahead to a potential Telus Cup berth later on this season. The Kings, currently sitting in first place in their division with 16 wins in 25 games, are doing it with defense, giving up a league-low 55 goals.

As the third overall pick in the WHL bantam draft last year, Siemens will join the Blades full-time as a blue-chipper next season and expectations will be there. According to Brodsky, the Blades knew Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ty Rattie would be the first two picks in the draft and that was just fine with them.

“We thought (Siemens) was the best player in the draft,” Brodsky said. “He was definitely No. 1 on our list.”

Siemens said he doesn’t really follow how RNH or Rattie are doing, but he does keep in touch with future teammate and fellow underage star Brent Benson, a high-scoring Saskatoon pick playing for the Notre Dame Hounds.

“I know him as a player and real well as a person,” Siemens said. “He’s one of those guys you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.”

With Siemens on the blueline and Benson up front, it’s fair to say the Blades will have a real edge to them in the near future.

Prep Watch, which features minor hockey players destined to become big names in major junior or the NCAA, appears every Thursday, only on

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