For left winger Aaron Snow, the 2007-08 season will be a big one.
Entering his final year of junior hockey in Canada (OHL), Snow, the Stars’ third-round draft pick (number 90 overall) in 2006, is looking to have a good year playing in his hometown in order to earn a professional contract for next season.
The gritty, rambunctious 6-foot, 199-pound native of Windsor, Ontario was in town last week for the Dallas Stars’ development camp at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco and viewed the experience as a mix of business and pleasure.
“Just work hard and try to impress as many people as I can,” Snow said of his goals for the week. “Maybe have a good time and meet some new people and just have some fun and work hard. It’s nice meeting a lot of new people, getting to know some people and having some fun.”
Now back home in Windsor, the Snowman intends to continue his workout regimen for the remainder of the summer and is determined to rebound from a sub-par 2006-07 during which he was traded from Brampton to Belleville. He moved along again after the season, when he was acquired by Windsor.
“Aaron’s development stalled last year playing in the Ontario Hockey League and he’s going to have to bounce back this year and have a strong season,” noted Stars Assistant General Manager Les Jackson, who oversees scouting and player development. “He’s a player that has some weight in his game. He needs to pick up his foot speed and his work ethic on a consistent basis, but he has all the raw materials. This will be an interesting evaluation for us. We’re expecting that he’s going to be a good player in the Ontario League and score some goals, so it will be interesting to see where he takes his game this season.”
During his draft year in 2005-06, Snow displayed a solid, all-around game posting 30 goals and 68 points in 68 games and adding a snarly 107 penalty minutes. He also recorded four goals and eight points in 11 post-season contests. But last season, after starting off with five goals and eight points in 12 games, he was dealt to Belleville, where he struggled at times to find his niche. He completed the year with 18 goals and 41 points in 60 games, and notched one goal and three points in 13 playoff outings.
There was some speculation that Snow had a difficult time adjusting to his new surroundings, and it appears that the deal adversely affected Snow’s progress.
“It was a little difficult - you’ve just got to take it in stride and work hard,” Snow admitted of having to suddenly change locales after a trade. “You go away at such a young age, but I’ll actually be living at home this year, playing for the Windsor Spitfires - that’s where I’m from - so looking forward to getting back with my family and friends and having a good year.”
“I think any time you move along, there’s always a little bit of an adjustment, but sometimes, there’s always a reason they move on, too,” Jackson said. “I think it’s an eye-opener for lots of players when you move on, because either somebody wants you or somebody’s telling you you’re not good enough at some part of your game. I think that’s going to accelerate the maturation of this player. If he takes it the right way, he’s going to work hard and he’s going to show people they made a mistake in letting him go. We’re hoping that’s the case.”
One thing Snow didn’t have to worry about was changing schools. He’d already graduated high school when he was traded and although he continues to take university-level classes, it is all done over the computer, so that was unaffected by his move.
“I’m taking a university course online with Athabasca University,” Snow said. “Administrative studies is the course. Everything’s done on the computer, so (being traded) was no big deal.”
As for his on-ice studies, Snow, 19, acknowledges that he has some key components of his game that he needs to continue working to upgrade.
“I think a little bit of everything - speed, quickness and agility,” Snow said. “That’s what the game’s all about now, the new NHL, is all speed and working hard, so I’m just looking to do that.”
Snow has likely returned home armed with several pointers on how to help him achieve those desired improvements, things he can work on for the rest of the summer and into his upcoming junior season.
“J.J. (McQueen, Stars’ strength and conditioning coach) will give them two or three things that they have to work on in his area, and on-ice, we give them two or three things that we feel that will enhance their development,” Jackson noted. “We keep it relatively simple, because a lot of these things are corrected through just playing and maturation and experience.”
“There’s a lot of things here that you can take back to your team and work hard on back home,” Snow confirmed. “Take what you can and work with it.”
Ultimately, Snow hopes to develop into a player similar to two who were important contributors to the Vancouver Canucks club that knocked that Stars out of last year’s playoffs.
“I see myself as kind of a two-way player, a Daniel Sedin or his twin brother Henrik, as a big guy, a power forward who can lay the body and just work hard all the time,” Snow said.
Before he reaches those heights, however, Snow plans on delivering a big season in Windsor. Because teams have two years to monitor their prospects’ progress from when they draft them, Snow is essentially playing for a pro contract this year. If the team opts not to sign him within that timeframe, he’ll become a free agent.
“He’s a good kid and he’s got good talent,” Jackson said. “He just has to become a good player in the Ontario League and then if he does that, and he shows progress, then we’ll turn him pro. But it’s a key year for this player.”