By Kyle Shohara
|"You approach every training camp and you want to give it your all. You want to make a good impression. Hopefully, I've been doing that here with the Ducks." -- Nolan Yonkman
The Ducks were back on the ice this afternoon for a brisk practice at Honda Center. With training camp and the preseason winding down, several Ducks find themselves in the hunt for a coveted roster spot.
One of those players is 32-year-old defenseman Nolan Yonkman, who was signed by Anaheim to a one-year contract in the offseason. The hulking 6-foot-6, 253-pounder has impressed throughout camp and the preseason.
“It’s been going well,” he said. “I got four games and I’m keeping my game simple. I’m just trying to give them what they’re looking for.”
Yonkman is a veteran of more than 600 American Hockey League games over a 12-year period, and has appeared in 74 career NHL games throughout his career. No stranger to new teams and new surroundings, Yonkman said he approaches every training camp with the same mindset.
“It’s always a fresh start when you come to a new team, and the different systems and the different ways of looking at things. You approach every training camp and you want to give it your all. You want to make a good first impression. Hopefully, I’ve been doing that here with the Ducks.”
Yonkman is among several defensemen looking to make the roster, and although every practice, scrimmage and preseason game counts, in the end, the big man said it’s about playing the game the right way.
“Essentially, you want them to do well,” he said. “Even though you’re competing, you’re still partners out there. You want to play the game the right way.”
His play has caught the eye of head coach Bruce Boudreau, who said Yonkman’s performance has been “surprising.”
“He’s a big guy who wants to get better,” he said. “He’s working really hard to try and make this team. When he plays within himself, good things always happen.”
When asked to describe Yonkman’s game, Boudreau kept it simple. “There’s not a lot of other stuff into his game. He’s a meat and potatoes guy if there is one.”
Another defenseman vying for a spot on the roster is Mark Fistric, who was also signed in the offseason. Formerly a first-round pick of the Dallas Stars in the 2004 NHL Draft, Fistric spent last season with the Oilers before signing with the Ducks as a free agent in August.
“I’ve been in a few different organizations in the last three years,” he said. “All completely different systems. So for me, it’s a matter of settling in and getting to know it, and learning as fast as possible.”
With one more preseason game until the regular season starts next Wednesday in Colorado, and a few practices mixed in, Fistric said he plans on sticking to his game plan.
“I’ve just got to play my game,” he said. “Come in every game and try to play heavy. Move the puck fast and if I’m on the penalty kill, kill penalties well. Just control what I have to control.”