With his lanky stature, long reach and long stride, comparisons to former Kelowna Rockets’ defenceman Tyler Myers are inevitable.
Still, Braydyn Chizen knows he has a long way to go before reaching the status of an NHL-calibre defenceman.
In Chizen’s second season with the Rockets, assistant coach Kris Mallette said the 6-foot-7, 200-pound native of St. Albert, AB is still rough around the edges but is making progress on a daily basis.
“He’s a guy who has to watch himself, day in and day out on video to be aware of what he’s doing, good or bad,” Mallette said of Chizen.
“He still makes mistakes, but he realizes he can cover a lot of space, his skating is good and his puck decisions are improving.
“We have to be patient and build off what he’s doing well,” added Mallette. “He has a good attitude, he listens and is hard on himself, so he just has to keep working to get better.”
Chizen, 18, who is still growing into his sizeable frame, played in 45 games during his rookie season in the WHL and in just three more in the playoffs.
Yet that was enough to pique the interest of the Minnesota Wild, who selected Chizen in the seventh round of last summer’s NHL entry draft.
“It gave me something to work towards and was really motivating for me,” Chizen said of being drafted.
“It was sort of like getting my foot in the door and that’s when the real hard work started.
“On the other hand, it’s just one step,” he added. “I know I have a long way to go, so I need to put in the work everyday to reach my goal.”
Mallette said when Chizen first joined the Rockets he was an “extremely raw” commodity, but has been gradually refining his craft with more playing time.
For Chizen’s part, he is committed to improving his game and becoming as reliable a teammate as possible.
“I’m playing more and I’m gaining some confidence because of that,” said Chizen, who has a goal and two assists in 16 games this season.
“Every night I feel like I’m making improvements.
“I talk to Kris (Mallette) after every game and he’s helping me with all the things I need to do better.
“I know I’m not there yet, but hopefully I’ll keep getting closer to where I need to be.”
Chizen and the Rockets (10-9-0) will host the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. Face off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.
Three points for Merkley…
Rockets’ teammates Nick Merkley and Cal Foote both auditioned their talents for Hockey Canada this week as members of Team WHL during the CIBC Canada-Russia Series.
Merkley had three assists over the two-game set, including two helpers in Tuesday night’s 4-1 win for Team WHL in Edmonton.
Foote, the youngest player on the Team WHL, also played in both games. Team OHL and Team QMJHL will also play against the Russians in the six-game annual series.
Rockets’ assistant coach Kris Mallette watched the two games and said Merkley and Foote both looked more comfortable the second night in Edmonton.