Dillon Heatherington was one of the go-to guys for rookies seeking help or advice this year at Blue Jackets development camp.
The 20-year-old, who was a second-round pick at the 2013 NHL Draft, said he was happy to be back in Columbus and to lend a hand to the new guys who aren’t as familiar with the team, city and camp.
“It’s always nice to come back here and see some familiar faces and see the guys you haven’t seen in a year or two,” Heatherington said. “I can’t say enough good things about the city.”
“It’s tough coming into a new organization and meeting all the different staff members and stuff like that, so I was just introducing them to new faces and making them as comfortable as possible.”
The young defenseman said when he first came to camp, the older guys showed him the way, and now it’s his turn to do the same.
“I remember my first time coming in,” Heatherington added. “It doesn’t feel that long ago, but a lot of older guys helped me along my way in my three years. So I’m trying to be that guy and making sure that I’m always putting myself in a position to be a guy helping them, as well.”
The 6-foot-4, 213-pound blue liner is comfortable in a supporting role, on and off of the ice. He plays a steady defensive game -- a stay-at-home defenseman, if you will -- and prides himself on his play in his own end. Yet he’s not afraid to make breakout passes, help the offense and get moving up ice in transition, either.
Heatherington defined himself as a “solid defensive defenseman first, that’s mobile and can move the puck.”
During the 2014-15 season, Heatherington registered one goal and tallied 14 assists in 48 games with Swift Current of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
He also suited up for three games with the Springfield Falcons, the Blue Jackets' former American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, at the end of the season.
The Calgary native spent a portion of his summer in Columbus and working out with fellow prospects and, potentially, future teammates with the Blue Jackets. For a young player looking to make the full-time jump to pro hockey this year, having that early exposure was a great experience.
“I’ve been here (off and on) and met Dalton Prout, and he’s been a great leader and kind of showing me the ropes around here,” Heatherington said. “So I’ve been modeling a lot of what I’ve been doing in the gym and on the ice based off him.”
Heatherington said he is focusing on improving his strength and getting faster on the ice and changing his game in positive ways to help him get to the next level. He knows what he wants out of his workouts and conditioning: a spot on the Blue Jackets' 2015-16 roster.
“My plan right now is to make a push for Columbus,” he stated. “That’s my mentality coming into training camp and working really hard this summer to do that. You gotta earn a spot and just be humble about it, but you have to come to camp with that mentality.”