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One step at a time

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – Sven Andrighetto has his sights set on a full-time NHL roster spot in 2015-16.

Heading into his third season in the pros, the Canadiens young gun, who got a good taste of NHL life last year during a stint with the big club for a little over a month between December 2014 and January 2015, is giving everything he’s got in the gym and on the ice to convince management that he belongs with the CH. Nevertheless, Andrighetto is well aware that he’s in the midst of a long-term process.

"I’m taking things step by step. When I got here, I wanted to be in the NHL as fast as I could, but I didn’t realize everything that was involved in making that happen. I do now. I realize that you have to take things slowly. I think I’m headed in the right direction,” admitted Andrighetto, who was a third-round selection of the Canadiens back in 2013. “The next step is the NHL. That’s for sure. My focus right now is to make this team. I’m working out as hard as I can every single day to be in the best shape possible once training camp starts. Then, I’ve got to earn my spot. You don’t get anything for free in the NHL, and there’s definitely a bunch of guys who want the same thing as I do.”

The 22-year-old right winger believes that two years in the AHL ranks – and a few games at the NHL level – will serve him well in his bid to secure a coveted spot with Michel Therrien’s squad come October.

“I’m confident in my abilities; I have some experience now from last year. I’ve played in the NHL and two years in Hamilton. That will definitely help me. At the same time, I know that I can play at this level. In the end, it’s really up to me whether or not I make it,” mentioned the Swiss forward, who scored two goals – including one in his first NHL game against the Dallas Stars – and added one assist in 12 NHL games in 2014-15. “At the same time, I don’t want to overthink things too much. I just want to go out there and do the best that I can, which I’m sure everybody else is going to try and do. I need to be ready.”

And, in order to prepare himself for rookie camp in early September, Andrighetto has been hard at work at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard alongside veterans like Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin, among others.

“I really enjoy it. I got to know them while I was with the team in December. They helped me out a lot. It was a pleasure to play with them, and now it’s just as enjoyable training with them. I’m learning a lot,” shared Andrighetto, who was immediately made to feel at ease by Plekanec when he was about to make his NHL debut last year. “When I got called up from the AHL, he was one of the first guys who told me to just have fun, enjoy it, and play my game. He gave me confidence by talking to me like that, on and off the ice. He gave me advice about what I should do better and what I could do next.”

In Plekanec – a former third-round selection who arrived in North America after being drafted and spent three seasons in Hamilton before firmly establishing himself in Montreal – Andrighetto has found a good role model, a fellow European who took a similar path to his over a decade ago and has enjoyed success ever since.

“He’s a great role model to look up to. That’s for sure. If you look at his career, he started in Hamilton as well and he came from Europe like I did. He’s been here for a while. If I can do the same thing, I’d be happy with that,” confessed Andrighetto, who has also found inspiration from the likes of Detroit Red Wings centerman, Pavel Datsyuk. “I used to admire him because of his exceptional offensive skills, but over the past couple of years, I’ve realized that he’s a complete player, a great two-way player. He’s great at taking the puck off other players’ sticks. He makes it look so easy. If you pay close attention, he wins almost every single battle. He’s probably even better on the defensive side of things than he is offense.

“He’s the type of player I want to become, someone who is good at both ends of the ice,” added Andrighetto, who amassed 44 and 43 points, respectively, in his first two seasons in the AHL.

With mentors like Plekanec and Max Pacioretty – who’ve both proven themselves when it comes to being effective at two-way play – Andrighetto will surely be well-equipped to achieve that objective.

Vincent Régis is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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