ST. LOUIS -- During the 2017-18 season, the Blues looked at a a select number of younger players, first-year players if you will, to give the chance at grabbing a spot on the big club.
Among them was defenseman Vince Dunn, a 2015 second-round pick.
Needless to say, Dunn was not on the high-end radar at the time training camp opened but quickly ascended at or near the top.
|Blues defenseman Vince Dunn|
Dunn completed his rookie season in fine form and hope for the future. He played in 75 games and finished with 24 points (five goals, 19 assists), a season that began as a third-pairing on defense with Robert Bortuzzo and quickly ended with a steady role on the second pair with Colton Parayko and at times, utilized with Alex Pietrangelo on the top pair.
Dunn averaged 17 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time per game, including two minutes per game average on the power play, and although there were teachable moments at times when mistakes were made, Dunn received praise from management and coaches as a player who will continue to thrive and be an impact player moving forward in the organization after completing the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract.
Dunn, 21, talked about his first NHL season, being selected for the World Championship even though he will miss it now because of an upper-body injury, being honored to be considered and what he hopes to accomplish moving forward:
What did you learn about your rookie season in the NHL?
I think it's always a roller coaster, there's a lot of ups and downs in the season. This season, we can feel bad for ourselves, I think realizing where we may have gone wrong this season and hopefully we can all come back after this summer, put some work in, and come back as a stronger team.
You were so close to making the playoffs, being one point away. How disappointing was it to be on the outside?
It's disappointing. You can see how close the standings are all year and you miss the playoffs by one win or one point. It's definitely a tough way to go out and coming into the season, with the good start we had, I think we'd probably see ourselves in a playoff spot. At the end of the day, you have to finish how you start. It's tough. We had a lot of character in this room. I think we all saw ourselves as a good contender for the Cup at the end but obviously it didn't work out in our favor.
Do you feel like you're getting better and better the more ice time and experience you gain?
I think with the more ice time near the end of the year that makes it a lot easier. It's a learning experience from start to finish. At the start, you're just learning things. Every day is a new day, every day is a new learning experience. At the end, you're kind of getting used to the routines and how guys are off the ice, how guys are on the ice, how things work off the ice and on the ice. It's just kind of adapting to a new league and a new system. I think I found myself in good positions all year. I had a lot of resources to be successful and I was put in spots to be successful. I was pretty happy with my year.
What's in store for your offseason (question was asked before the news that Dunn would be skipping the Worlds with an upper-body ailment?
I've got world championships coming up. That's exciting. That's obviously going to take a toll on my body. After that, I'll see how I feel. I'll obviously need some rest. That's quite a grind for a tournament. This summer should be a little different and I'll probably try to listen to my body more than anything. Next year, I think we all want to come in with a better way than we came in this year. Do work over the summer and we can all be better next season.
Have you ever represented Canada at the international level before?
Never played for Canada.
How big of an honor is it?
It's definitely an honor to play for your country, represent your country. I've never been in that position before, never been on any regional teams, it will be something new for me. Hopefully a couple of guys will be joining me from the team here. I've heard it's a lot of fun. When the rounds start it gets a little more serious but I'm really looking forward to the experience.
Were you surprised with the invitation?
I was. I didn't really even know about the tournament. I was pretty surprised, at the same time I'm honored and ready to excel.
What was the big lesson learned this season?
It's not something I really learned. It's more just being focused, it's more of a mental game than anything. We've all be playing the same game since five years old. Nothing really changes on the ice. I show up at the rink and put my equipment on the same way. Nothing really changes that way. It's more staying composed in your own head. Taking everything for what it is, not getting too high, not getting too low. We've got to find a way to get compete for all 60 minutes when maybe we weren't during the year. We've got to be able win games that mean the most.