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van Riemsdyk setting high expectations for pro career

by Daniel Bettenhausen / Chicago Blackhawks
(Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks)

After the second day of the Chicago Blackhawks Prospect Camp, defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk sat down with to discuss the past couple days at camp, his playing style and his future with the Blackhawks.

Last March, van Riemsdyk signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Blackhawks and will start his pro career this coming season, likely with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. Trevor is the second of three van Riemsdyk brothers to get his shot in the NHL; his older brother, James, currently plays forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Before joining the Blackhawks, the 22-year-old van Riemsdyk spent the last three seasons on the blue line for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. During his freshman and sophomore years, the Middletown, N.J., native tallied a total of 52 points. However, two-thirds of the way through his junior season, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury, but not before racking up 23 points.

So, Trevor, how have these last couple days gone for you so far, and what are you looking forward to most as the week progresses?

It’s been good. Today, we got a little workout in before we skated. It has been good to see where I am compared to the other guys who are entry-levels too. It is a measuring stick we can look to as the week goes on.

Since you are likely going to be playing with some of these guys in Rockford, have you started to build chemistry with your future teammates?

As far as on the ice, it was kind of tough initially. But with so few of us here, you get a chance to play with everyone and learn their playing style. Off the ice, it is also good to hang out with them in our downtime. I really believe that the better friends you are with a teammate off the ice, it transfers to positive play on the ice.

Now, let’s get into your playing style. How would you describe yourself as a player, and what do you bring to the Blackhawks as defenseman?

I would definitely say that I am more of an offensive-minded defenseman—in college, that was my role. I was the power-play guy. I can move the puck around, and I think I can get the puck from defense to forward quickly and make the right pass out of the zone without causing chaos.

As you continue to measure yourself, how is your ankle feeling having recently recovered from an injury?

The ankle is all healed up. There is some stiffness from time to time, but working through that is part of the process. Skating has also been a big help, loosening it up. It is just another thing to be cognizant of, and I just have to be sure to do a little extra stretching to be at my best each day.

Is there any current NHL player that you tailor your game after?

There are some guys I like watching, like [Ottawa's] Erik Karlsson. He is obviously a world-class player, and I try to pick-up on little things that he does. A guy on the Blackhawks would be Duncan Keith; I try to notice what he does to buy time with the puck and elude defenders.

Speaking of NHL players, has the sibling rivalry evolved between you and your brother now that you are about to begin your pro career?

It is actually really friendly. We both do our best to give each other help when the other needs it. I will admit he’s been helping me a little more since he has been in the league longer. It’s been great to have him to help me in my decision process, but he still lets me make my own decisions when deciding my hockey path. I am grateful to have him in the league. He has had his ups and downs, so it is nice to have his pointers and advice when I start going through the same stuff.

Having been an undrafted player, what was it like to have the Blackhawks interested in signing you?

It was really exciting. It has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to play pro hockey. The Blackhawks are obviously an organization that I grew up watching some, and even more so now with their recent success. It was definitely an exciting time, and I look forward to seeing where I will be. It was just a great experience signing that contract.

Finally, what are your expectations for yourself and what should fans expect to see as you continue to develop as a player?

As far as myself, I want to improve each day that I’m here. Each day that I am working out, I want to eliminate my weaknesses. As far as what people can expect, they should expect me to work my hardest out on the ice and hopefully add some offense from the blue line.

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