by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report
ST. JOHN’S, NL. — The 20 year old Medicine Hat, Alberta native played his junior hockey with Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. In 2011 the Habs drafted Darren Dietz 138th overall after posting 27 points in 68 games in his first full season at the junior level. This investment proved to be smart as he continued to take jumps in the following years to 44 and 58 points respectively over 72 games in 2011-12 and 2012-13, which also resulted in a first team all-star nod for the latter season. In addition to his offensive abilities from the backend, Dietz also played with an edge hitting triple digits in penalty minutes in both his last two seasons for the Blades. This physical presence was on display in his tenure with the Bulldogs and he gives opposing forwards a reason to keep their heads up.
Dietz had a quiet and shortened rookie season for the Bulldogs in 2013-14 only lacing up for 34 games, but followed that up with an impressive camp for the Canadiens last year which saw him stick around through the final cuts and continued to progress with 17 points over 71 games with the Bulldogs. A right handed shot, Dietz finds himself down the depth chart behind the likes of Subban, Petry, Gilbert and late season call-up Pateryn.
He has the potential to be a top-4, possibly top-2 guy with the baby Habs this season, and will battle with recent rookie camp stand-out Ryan Johnston for PP time with the IceCaps. The one thing Dietz has on his side is the consensus understanding that defensemen typically take longer to develop. We see this in the case of guys like Tinordi (23), Beaulieu (22) and Pateryn (25), and so there is no pressure to make the jump immediately, but 2014-15 should prove an important season to ensure his development continues in the right direction. If Dietz should continue to progress and he remains a candidate to be called up pending a trade or injury the aforementioned righties in the Habs lineup. Long term projections are still a little early to say, by no means is he a blue chip, but a nice piece in the cupboard for Martin Lapointe to continue to work with and potential to develop into an NHL player one day.
In case you missed our previous player features:
IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mac Bennett
IceCaps Roster Feature – Tim Bozon
IceCaps Roster Feature – Daniel Carr
IceCaps Roster Feature – Connor Crisp
IceCaps Roster Feature – Josiah Didier