After three days of training camp, players are beginning to stand out and make strong cases for themselves. The veterans are assuming leadership roles and getting into game shape, while young guys are still trying to find their place.
One of the young guys finding his stride early on is Alex Aleardi, who impressed the staff in Traverse City at the NHL Prospects Tournament. His road to the Blue Jackets Training Camp (presented by OhioHealth) has been a long and challenging one, but it has prepared Aleardi for the challenges he is facing trying to break into the NHL.
TRAINING CAMP CENTRAL
“It’s been interesting, that’s for sure,” Aleardi told BlueJackets.com. “I played in Plymouth for two and a half years and was traded at the trade deadline to Windsor. We didn’t make the playoffs, so I was called up to Springfield for a couple games, did real well up there. Then went to Traverse City with the prospect tournament and I made training camp, so I’m doing well, having a good time and enjoying the experience.”
While in Windsor, Aleardi was a Spitfires teammate with another notable name at training camp, 2013 NHL first-round draft pick Kerby Rychel. The two of them were part of the same line on a Windsor team that was known for its high-tempo game last season, and they enjoyed reconnecting at the NHL Prospects Tournament and now in Columbus for main camp.
“Rychel and I got to be linemates for the better half of last year,” said Aleardi. “We haven’t been on a line much at Traverse City or here at camp, but we’re good friends and always joke around. It’s funny that we’ve both ended up in the same spot.”
Not surprisingly, they both have the same goal at camp: to prove that they can compete at the NHL level and learn as much as possible from this opportunity.
“I just want prove that I can play with the older guys,” said Aleardi. “I want to show that I’m not scared out there and that I can compete with them.”
Aleardi described himself as a player who could make a big impact even with low ice time, and said that's what he can bring if he were to earn a call-up from Springfield (AHL). Several of his goals in the OHL and AHL last year were game-winners or game-tying goals that had a big impact on the success of his teams.
“I’m a fourth-line energy guy that gets the puck deep and makes the hits and simple, smart plays,” said Aleardi. “I’m always around the net, always breaking wide with speed. I’m a faster guy, a smaller guy, and I always get to the net and just grind my way in.”
When asked if he was ready to step up and play in the NHL, Aleardi said that he believes he is both mentally and physically prepared, but it is all a matter of being presented with the opportunity to showcase what he can do.
In the past, he made the most of his time in the AHL, scoring two points in three games for the Falcons, earning himself a one-year deal.
“I’m definitely ready to play, I’m just waiting on my opportunity,” Aleardi said. “Hopefully I can make the most of this training camp with what I can do, and just hope the coaches will give me a chance.”