Jarred Tinordi is already looking ahead to next season — and the six foot six defenseman understands his role on a Canadiens squad that is sometimes maligned as too small.
"Obviously I'm a big presence on the ice. I'm a big guy, and I try to be physical," Tinordi told CBC Hamilton. "I think that's something that helped Montreal when I got called up. That was kind of the role I wanted to play and where I fit in with the team."
His physicality was clearly on display during game three of the Canadiens' first round series against the Ottawa Senators, when he was part of a massive line brawl at the end of the game.
The series was the 21-year-old's first taste of playoff hockey. Tinordi suited up for five games against Ottawa, notching 15 penalty minutes and one assist. He says the experience was instrumental for his development as a player.
"I'm really fortunate. You look at great players who haven't made it to the playoffs that many times in their career — and being a call up guy only eight games in and jumping right into the playoffs is definitely an eye-opener."
The Canadiens' early exit from the playoffs will just help his game moving forward, he says. "It better prepares you for next season."
With Alexei Emelin still recovering from a season-ending knee injury after a collision with Boston's Milan Lucic, there's a good chance that Tinordi could get the nod for the start of the season if he has a solid training camp.
"That's my goal. I'm trying to have a good summer training. Obviously I want to perform well during training camp and be there at the start of the year."
Turning around a young team
While at the Hamilton Bulldogs Summer Hockey Camp at the Mohawk 4 Ice Centre on Wednesday, Tinordi also weighed in on the Bulldogs' chances moving into the 2013-2014 AHL season.
"I think we were a young team last year, and that played into it a bit," Tinordi said. "Obviously we had a lot of guys my age and a couple of guys younger, and the year of experience definitely helps a lot of guys."
Defenceman Drew Schiestel just signed a one-year, two-way AHL contract with the Bulldogs. He has an outsider's perspective on the team, having played against them last season on the Rochester Americans.
He says the maturation of a young squad improves their chances going into this season. The Bulldogs finished in the AHL basement last season.
"I played against them a lot last year," he said. "They have a young team and a lot of talent there." But it's tough to say if they'll be a playoff squad just yet, he says.
"I don't know what goes on in the dressing room day in and day out as an outsider playing against them," he said. "They're young. They have a lot of inexperience there so I'm going to try to help out that aspect."
Third Hamilton native in two years
Schiestel is the third Hamilton native to suit up with the Bulldogs in the last two years. He was born and raised in the city, growing up next to Lime Ridge Mall. He played for the Hamilton Red Wings before moving on to Mississauga to start his junior career.
"I've always been fairly close to home, which is nice," he said. "You can go just about anywhere — and I kind of lucked out."
Though the Canadiens' blue line looks a little crowded pre-training camp, Shiestel still has high hopes to land on an NHL team.
"My goal is to end up playing in the NHL somewhere and it will be interesting to see how it works out with Hamilton and in Montreal," he said.
"Obviously I'd like to earn myself some playing time there — wherever it may be in the next couple of years."