When Cam Russell first met Konrad Abeltshauser, he had no idea what to expect from his new defenceman.
All the Halifax Mooseheads head coach and general manager knew was that the 6-foot-3 German was one of the few players tall enough to look him square in the eye.
“We’ll see (what we have) when we get him on the ice,” Russell said, of the player he selected 28th overall in the Canadian Hockey League import draft in late June.
Six games into the season, Russell has quickly gotten an idea of what to expect from the 17-year-old. Abeltshauser not only looks his boss in the eye, he also logs top-pairing minutes, anchors the power play and produces offence.
“He’s been our most consistent defenceman,” Russell said, perhaps being generous to some of his veterans. “He’s probably our best power-play guy and I like the way he plays.”
Abeltshauser, a scoring star in the German junior ranks, is tied for second on the team with two goals and two assists in six games. Although he has a team-worst minus-12 and needs to be better defensively, he draws oohs and aahs from the Metro Centre crowd with his offensive skills and smarts.
He couldn’t be happier with the role he’s been given.
“I never expected to get this much ice time,” Abeltshauser said. “I wanted to play as much games as possible and play a good role on the team. But I’m happy with the way it is.”
It has been a challenge adjusting to a new language and culture off the ice, but Abeltshauser said he’s learning “two or three new words every day” and is glad he’s here.
His goal is to expose himself to scouts and raise his stock for the 2010 NHL draft, and he’s off to a good start.
“You get a chance to show scouts everywhere how good you are here,” said Abeltshauser, who didn’t feel he’d have that opportunity in Germany. “I think every player wants to get drafted, and I’ll try my best to reach that goal.”