Dalton Prout says he's not experienced many ‘highs’ so far in his career, but he’s also been able to stray away from too many ‘lows,’ as well.
The Blue Jackets defenseman, a sixth-round pick in 2010, saw action in 49 games this past season but he isn’t satisfied with just being a part of the team.
When asked what he would like to improve on this season, he gave BlueJackets.com a simple yet direct answer.
“Consistency, in every form of the word.”
It's what professional athletes strive for - a consistently high-level effort every night - and Prout wants to be relied upon by the coaching staff, and get to a point where they know what to expect from his game.
How does he do that? By improving fundamentals and base skills that have helped carve his game as a physical, defending defenseman.
“Speed and power; having a jump on a guy. Being solid defensively, beating guys to pucks in the corner, and knocking them off pucks,” Prout listed as attributes he's looking to refine. “Taking pucks away, not letting them get to the front of the net, and getting pucks on our forwards’ hands to create more offense.
“I just need to be more expected by the coaches and not that I’m going to have a good game or bad game, just consistent.”
The challenge that Prout faces this season is how to change his instincts and model his game during the offseason. Without any game action and scenarios, it can be tricky on how to approach the offseason.
He did say, however, that it is much easier to structure the offseason program and training after being in the league for a couple years because he isn’t as ‘jittery’ entering training camp in September.
“Your first few years, you’re on a two-way contract, and nothing is set in stone. You feel like you have to make an impression right from the get-go. Coming into camp, maybe you’re on pins and needles a little more,” said Prout, who signed his first one-way contract in June. “A few years now, you get a little smarter about how you prepare. An 82-game schedule is rigorous, it’s very important to prepare for the longevity of the season and not just go gung-ho in camp and fall off a few games in the season.”
Prout has spent his summer in Columbus with close friends and Blue Jackets teammates, including other young players like Boone Jenner, Ryan Murray, and Tim Erixon.
“It’s just like a co-worker anywhere, if you like your co-workers then you’ll like going to work even more,” Prout said. “It’s nice to have a teammate that is much more likely to have your back on the ice or be a little more cohesive, whether he’s your defense partner or he’s on the ice with you.
"A lot of times a guy’s personality will fall into his tendencies on the ice. It can only help being close over the summer.”
They’re not just working together as teammates, but also becoming a close-knit group and building relationships that will only get stronger in the years to come.
Last weekend, Prout and Jenner were able to participate in the Pelotonia bike ride, a widely successful cancer research fundraiser in Columbus. Prout said that he, along with the other young players, feels like the team is has a unique opportunity to grow up and develop together as a group.
“You’re getting better away from the rink and not just practicing together. It’s doing the work together when it’s voluntary,” Prout said. “When you see each other during the season, and we have a practice, everyone has to be there. In the summer you’re doing extra things, you’re doing things outside your workouts. It’s nice to get better outside of just the regiment of the coaching staff and what everyone has in place.”