When Capitals defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler arrived at training camp earlier this month, he was significantly lighter than he was at last fall's camp - 24 pounds lighter. Now standing at a tough and trim 6'3", 206 pounds, Siegenthaler has seen marked improvements across his game.
"I feel a lot quicker on the ice, it helps me and my game," Siegenthaler said. "Hockey gets faster every year, and you got to be a good skater, and you can't be a good skater if you're too heavy. But now I'm 206, and I'm feeling pretty good."
It's not just Siegenthaler who has noticed a change. The coaching and training staff - including head coach Barry Trotz - have taken note. While speaking to media after Sunday's scrimmage, Trotz said Siegenthaler was essentially a new player.
"He's way lighter on his feet, he gets to pucks quicker, he gets to people quicker, he closes quicker," Trotz said. "He's got more jump. I was skating around the other day, I was in a good mood, and I kept saying to a couple of the other defensemen, 'Who is that guy? Who is that guy? I don't even recognize that guy. Who is that guy?' That's good on him."
Video: ALL CAPS | June 29
Siegenthaler, 20, is participating in his third training camp since the Capitals drafted him in the second round (57th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He saw shedding the excess weight as a necessary step to stay competitive and continually improve, something he - and every prospect - looks to do every season. This year's camp is crowded with young, aspiring talent vying for a handful of roster spots at the highest level. For a lighter, faster, more agile Siegenthaler, losing the weight was only part of the challenge.
"There's a few spots open, and everybody knows it, especially the young guys here," Siegenthaler said. "On the ice it's pretty hard, and you got to watch them and try to be better or try to make better than the other guys. The last three years - since I got drafted from Washington - I try to improve every year, every season … At the end of the [2016-17] season I knew I had to lose body fat, so yeah, just concentrate to eat the right way, and if you lose body fat, your weight goes down automatically."
The dedication to tone himself reflected positively on Siegenthaler's overall game. Always known to be a smooth-skating defenseman with size, Siegenthaler's offensive numbers didn't match up with the defensive prowess. Siegenthaler measured up physically playing as a teenager in Switzerland's NLA, but he never reached double digit points with the ZSC Lions. But as Siegenthaler began to trim down, his offensive numbers rose.
Video: Behind-the-scenes at the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida
He exploded at the World Junior Championship, serving as an assistant captain for Switzerland. In five games in the tournament, Siegenthaler finished with five assists and a goal. Only one other defenseman - Canada standout Thomas Chabot - finished with more points than games played in the tournament.
Trotz believes Siegenthaler's weight loss was a necessity when it came to improving his game.
"That was an element that he needed to correct if he was going to have success," Trotz said. "He made the commitment to do that, and he's going to have way more success, personally and as a teammate for everybody around him."