Nicolas Petan said he didn't change much from last season to this season -- mainly, just the curve on his stick.
So how much is that slight change to the blade of his stick worth? How about two more goals and nine more points for the Portland Winterhawks center than he had all of last season, with more than half the season still to play.
Through 25 games, Petan has 44 points, tops on his team and third in the Western Hockey League. He also leads Portland in goals (16) and assists (28), and is second with a plus-25 rating.
Petan credits a great deal of that improvement to a slight change in the curve on his stick. It's not that he went from a flat blade to an over-sized banana curve, but he believes his minor alteration has been a help.
"It helps me physically with playing, but it helps you mentally," Petan told NHL.com. "You think you're going to do better with a different curve, you practice and work with it, you're really used to it. You go out there and you have success with it and you gain confidence with it."
So far, it's paid off in a big way. Thanks to his outstanding start, NHL Central Scouting ranked him 15th in its preliminary top 25 ranking of WHL skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft.
"Petan has really improved even from the start of the year," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "The difference from last year is that he is playing with much more confidence and has gained a step, which allows him to drive to net. He has improved his quickness. He is beating defensemen out of the corners with his quickness. He's improved his overall play in handling the puck and distribution to linemates. The biggest difference, though, is he has turned into a take-charge guy. He is leading his team -- the team goes as he goes."