WINNIPEG - Jets prospect Nelson Nogier is entering the 2017-18 season a more confident player after making the most of an opportunity just a few short months ago.
Nogier was called up from the Manitoba Moose late last season, appearing in 10 games with the Jets and averaging more than 12 minutes per game in ice time to finish up the year after spending most of it across the dock at Bell MTS Place.
"The amount that helped is crazy," Nogier said. "Throughout the summer there was that little bit of extra fire while I was training. The other big thing that I took away from it was the comfort I had with the team in the room. You get to know everyone a little bit more than if I hadn't played those 10 games at the end of the season. It's never really a worry when you don't know everyone, but when you do, you can just feel comfortable, be yourself and go out and do what you need to do to be successful.
"Once you start to get comfortable with everyone and know everyone personally, you can open up and settle in. That puts your mind - your attention - where it belongs."
Nogier said he had a good conversation with Head Paul Maurice after the final game of the season against Nashville, and as a result of that, he knew exactly what to focus on over the summer to make an impression here in the fall.
"That just really put things in perspective," Nogier said. "That really put my sights where they needed to be. … There are a ton of things I still had to work on from my skating to my positioning, to making smarter and quicker reads with the puck. At the NHL level, everything's faster and you have to make a decision just that much quicker."
The rookie defender scored twice for 13 points in 60 regular-season games with the Moose before getting the call Mar. 20 and making his NHL debut the very next night.
Maurice thought the blueliner showed well when he came up last year, and has been impressed with his camp so far, with how he approaches the game and handles feedback from the coaching staff.
"He introduced to us what he's good at - what he can do - so we have a real good idea of what his skill set is," Maurice said. "Great pro. He's one of those '20-year vet' kind of guys. He's in great shape, he does all the right things all the time and for him now, it's all about experience, reps, judging the speed of the game and learning the league."
Nogier is using these preseason games to do just that, even if the rosters aren't quite what he faced last year when the Kings, Ducks, Jackets and Predators were gearing up for the playoffs. The difference now is that the Jets have even more competition on D, and especially on the right side where another newcomer - Tucker Poolman - has entered the conversation.
With Josh Morrissey, Jacob Trouba, Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Dmitry Kulikov, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot in the fold, winning a job has never been more difficult.
And that's the way it should be.
The 6-foot-2, 191-pound Nogier is only 21 years old. He's developing - as any young defenceman would - by the minute with the experience and wealth of information he's collecting around the rink.
That, a few preseason games with the Jets and logging big minutes with the Moose this year will serve the former fourth pick well.
For now, he's just happy to be in the fight and will do whatever it takes to hear the bell again tomorrow.
"It was nice to kind of get that first one out of the way and under your belt. It was good to get my feet under me as soon as I could. I'm just trying to adapt to the speed of the game again. I'm looking forward to getting back in there tonight to show what I can do."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com