Goaltender Jordan Binnington was among the group of Blues prospects in town this week to participate in the team’s off-ice Development Camp.
Binnington was selected by the Blues in the third round (No. 88 overall) at the 2011 NHL Draft. He spent the last four seasons with the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. Two seasons ago, he led the Attack to their first championship in team history and last season was named the OHL Goaltender of the Year after posting a 32-12-6 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
After Tuesday morning’s workout, Binnington took some time to answer some questions. Below is our Q&A.
Q: How is this year’s development going for you so far?
JORDAN BINNINGTON: It’s incredible to meet all the management and the people around here. There are some NHL players who are working out here, so you can see what they do in the summer and see the amount of work it takes to get to the next level. It’s a really good experience for us and we’re seeing the city and the (Cardinals) play and stuff. It’s been a good experience so far.
Q: You’ve gotten your entry level deal from the Blues, so is this a different mentality for you entering this summer’s Development Camp?
JB: Yeah, I think I have different goals. Every year, you come in and gain experience and see different things. I’ve been here before and I’ve gotten the feel of it, but I still get to see the NHL players and meet with (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Nelson (Ayotte) and see what he wants and expects out of Blues players. Every year it’s still a learning experience, but I’m hoping to make the jump next year to pro hockey.
Q: Are you planning to play next season with the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves?
JB: Yeah, that would be my realistic goal. I’m just going to worry about coming into camp and being confident and helping myself and my game and hopefully it all works out.
Q: Where is your game right now? How do you feel about your past season at Owen Sound?
JB: This year went really well. Owen Sound has been a great place for me for the last four years, and finally I got a year where things went really well, and we actually won (a championship) two years ago. Personally, I felt very confident in my game last year and the team played well. We had a good defensive corps that would do anything, the penalty killers would help me out…I can’t thank them enough for the season that I had.
Q: What do you like about your game right now, and what areas do you feel need to improve?
JB: I think a big step for me last year was staying composed, and that’s what you need to be as a goalie. You can’t get excited or get too low, you got to keep that even keel and most of all, be confident in yourself. That’s something I got better at last year, the mental aspect of the game. I’m looking to bring that into next year and obviously, getting stronger in all aspects because everything is faster at the next level. You’ve got to be that much better and faster, so overall, I think there’s some work to do.
Q: Describe the experience of being named the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year last season.
JB: When I found out, I was pretty excited about that. I got to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame to receive the award and it was a very good experience. It was a very happy moment for me and my family and the Owen Sound Attack organization.
Q: How does a team championship compare to your individual honors?
JB: There’s not much that can beat winning a championship with a group of guys. That was one of the best years of my life and I still keep in touch with all of those guys. Winning the Goalie of the Year Award is still a team award, because without the defense and the penalty killers and the forwards putting in the goals at the right times, I don’t think I would have been there. So it’s up there.
Q: The Blues have a quite a bit of goalie depth with Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen. How do you break in?
JB: I think at the end of the day, you just have to worry about yourself and it will take care of itself. I think if you’re good enough, you’ll get there. Obviously there are different paths that people take, but you just have to worry about yourself and stay composed about it and be ready when your chance actually comes.