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08-26-2011, 03:42 PM
  #3
Seth Lake
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Spaling was a top line center in juniors centering a line with Matt Halischuk as his winger the final two years. Upon entering professional hockey it was clear that he had very raw puck skills, but great hockey sense, and defensive awareness.

The latter two skills are what got him to the NHL as quick as he did and over the past two seasons he has worked very hard to refine his puck skills and has experienced success with them. Last year on a pure checking line he had 8 goals and 14 points, then elevated his game with Tootoo's last season arrival and rediscovered offensive skill to score 2 goals and 6 points in 12 playoff games playing on a checking/energy line.

Nick Spaling is not going to be a guy that you put in the top-6 to lead a line, but he is a guy that has developing offensive skills, tremendous hockey sense, and the ability to fit his game in a manner to bolster the games of his linemates regardless of what role he's playing.

Spaling played much of last season in a pure checking line role with little to no offensive expectations placed on that unit. At the end of the year and throughout the playoffs the unit was asked to play a bigger role and Spaling and Tootoo combined to create offense on that line with Smithson chipping in by supporting on the cycle, aggressively forechecking to create loose pucks, and heading to the net.

Nick Spaling elevated his game to top-9 forward status late in the year last season and there's little reason to believe he's hit his peak yet. He's not a top-6 forward yet and I know people have a hard time projecting him to be one in the future, but his growth in terms of skill since turning pro has been tremendous and I for one still think he has at least another skill level to achieve...

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