Hitmen Nyren in Flames prospect camp
Calgary Hitmen defenceman Giffen Nyren does not belong to any National Hockey League team; not yet at least.
After being invited to the Minnesota Wild camp last summer, he finds himself in a familiar place in the summer of 2010; on Saddledome ice. The only difference is that he is wearing the flaming ‘C’ on his chest and not the menacing emblem of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.
Nyren clearly turned some heads in Calgary during the Hitmen playoff run as he was granted the invite by the Flames soon after the WHL Champions returned home from the Memorial Cup.
He became one of the Hitmen’s most dangerous weapons from the blue line as he potted 5 goals and added 13 assists during Championship run. He was also a plus 15 during the post-season; 2nd in the league only to Captain Michael Stone.
At 6’1” and 195 lbs, Nyren plays a similar game to that of another fellow Calgarian; Norris Trophy nominee Mike Green. Nyren loves to lead the rush and create plays with his feet, much like Green does with the Washington Capitals. Nyren loves to have the puck on his stick during the power play, much like Green who quarterbacks one of the most lethal units in NHL.
So if Nyren is so good, then why did he get passed up in two straight NHL entry drafts?
Well, when Nyren broke into the junior ranks with the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Warrior brass thought it wise to try Nyren out as a forward, and then moved him back to defence, then back to forward, and around and around the carousel went.
Nyren never had a chance to plant his roots in one position, which presumably stunted his growth as a player. This past year when he was given the increase in ice time by the Hitmen coaching staff, he proved that he can be a very effective offensive defenceman, and quite often a game-changer.
He was awarded the WHL Boston Pizza Player of the Week during the final week of the playoffs when the Hitmen beat the Tri-City Americans 4 games to 1 to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup; proving to be a key cog in the Championship victory.
He has been knocked in the past by some for having some defensive deficiencies and making the odd blunder; well his plus/minus rating in the playoffs might help silence some of those critics.
In the end, the Flames may have just found a diamond in the rough in their own backyard. Look for Giffen Nyren on the ice this week wearing the number 40 jersey.