MONTREAL – When Greg Pateryn arrives in Montreal for training camp in September, he’s hoping it won’t be a layover on the way to Newfoundland.
After getting a quick taste of NHL hockey in his rookie pro season, enjoying a brief three-game stint in Montreal in 2012-13, Pateryn spent the 2013-14 campaign exclusively in Hamilton, where he led all Bulldogs defensemen with 34 points. When he was finally given another chance to strut his stuff on the big stage this year, he wasn’t about to let the opportunity go to waste.
“I definitely feel like I improved this season. I think I found my role on this team and in this league,” shared the 25-year-old blue-liner, who averaged 12:39 of ice time in his 17 regular season games with the Habs. “As long as I stick to it and focus on areas I need to improve, I’ll keep going in the right direction.”
Making the jump for a few games in February before being recalled on a more permanent basis in mid-March, Pateryn spent the majority of his regular season minutes flanking former Bulldogs teammate Nathan Beaulieu on the back end. Growing more comfortable every game, the Sterling Heights, MI native hit his stride in the springtime, finishing third among all Habs defensemen in playoff points.
Not bad for a guy taking part in his first NHL postseason.
“I learned how much the pace of the game can change and just how much fun it is,” said Pateryn, who chipped in with three assists in seven playoff games in 2015. “It was great for my development and it was a great experience for me, but hopefully down the road there will be a lot more of those.”
That’s exactly what his boss had in mind when he offered Pateryn a two-year contract extension on July 1.
“We thought he played really well after we brought him up. He’s a young, physical, right-handed shot defenseman who makes a good first pass,” described Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin of the 6-foot-2 rearguard. “There are three ways you can make your team better: via trades, via free agency, and within the organization with your young players. Ask any GM, and the thing we all want is to have our young players come through. He’ll make that decision for us. Training camp is where players, especially young players, get their chance to prove what they can do.”
With three years of pro seasoning now under his belt, Pateryn has every intention of spending his fourth earning his full-time Quebec residency status.
“My goal for next year is to stay in Montreal the entire season. The plan is to come back and play the way I was; I’m not going to try to come in and play like someone I’m not,” he explained. “I’ll just play my simple game because I understand that’s what brought me success. I’m not going to change that, I’m just looking to improve on what I’ve done. If I do that, there’s no reason I can’t stick around.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.