Another player who doesn't have to worry about selling himself following his new 2 year, 2.5 million dollar deal, but it's worth taking a look at last year's breakthrough blueliner as we continue our interview series.
Q) Hi, Grant. Tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I was born on April 14th, 1985 up in Glouchester, Ontario, and played with the Nepean Raiders of the CJHL before I was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the 9th round of the 2004 draft. From there, I went to Clarkson University for four years, where I averaged about 20 points a season, then after Graduation I started my pro hockey career in Syracuse before getting called up to the Jackets in 2010 for 11 games in Columbus near the end of the season, then returning to Springfield for part of last season before breaking through and sticking with the big club.
Q) Tell us about some intangibles you could bring to the Blue Jackets?
I'm all about hard work. I came from a last round pick on a Junior A team to a Div I team in the NCAA, then proved my skills in the AHL, and was leading Springfield as one of their top blueliners before I saw my chance this year and grabbed it with both hands. I know about needing to hustle and work harder than other guys on the ice to prove you should have a spot, and then working even harder to keep it. I've got a very strong compete level and I want to keep bringing it to the rink every day.
Oh, and I think I've scored at least two of my 5 NHL goals so far because the other team was too busy snickering at my last name to notice I was teeing up for a slapper.
Q) What areas of your game do you think you can improve on?
Part of it is just going to be adjusting to the NHL level for a full season, and having to play a more rounded game - I'm looking at seeing a lot of power play time and offensive zone starts against weaker competition, but there will be more and more asked of me as I play deeper into the lineup, and if someone should be hurt, I have to be able to step up to the responsibility of taking on the other team's top lines. I've also had some trouble with injuries last season and in my collegiate career, so I want to work on staying healthy this season.
Q) Can you give us some examples of your hockey accomplishments?
At Nepean, I was part of the team that won the CJHL Bogart Cup, and then won the Fred Page Cup for the best team in all of Junior A hockey, with a goal and 10 assists in 17 playoff games. In 2007, as part of the Clarkson Knights, we won the ECAC championship over Quinnipiac, 5-2, and I was the leading scorer among Clarkson defensemen in the regular season and playoffs. When I was called up to the Jackets last year, I contributed two goals and an assist in my first four games, and ended the season with four goals and 15 assists in 31 appearances.