WATCH: The Victoria Royals now boast five of the top 80 picks from the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft on their opening night roster. The highest selection of that group four years ago is Jared Legien, who may become another example of a player finding his potential in Victoria. Andy Neal has more.
After playing last winter in southern Saskatchewan, Jared Legien is looking forward to a much milder winter.
“[Victoria] is very good, I really like it. It’s a lot different, there’s no snow, it’s not very cold,” Legien said
With his team-high four goals and six points in the pre-season, Victoria’s heat appears to be in Legien’s hands.
It’s something the 19-year-old forward hopes continues right into the regular season opener Friday against the Vancouver Giants.
“Helps me go forward,” Legien said.
“I played with the two Euros there. Yan (Khomenko), he made unbelievable passes and just found me in the right places and I put them in.”
“He’s another big guy that we need. I think where he is right now, it should be a good spot for him,” Royals’ forward Dante Hannoun said.
“I just think he’s got to keep working and it starts in practice and if he turns that into games, I think he’ll do okay.
“He’s got a set of skills that I think most teams really covet in the Western League and that’s the ability to score,” Royals’ General Manager Cam Hope said.
“He sees the ice very well, he’s got all the physical tools that you need to be an offensive player.”
To say Legien’s emergence in the pre-season is a surprise isn’t the case for those close to the WHL.
The 6’1″, 206-pound native of Pilot Butte, Sask. was the ninth overall pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft by the Kootenay Ice.
Unable to get going on a rebuilding team in Cranbrook, Legien turned to the Saskatchewan Junior League.
Last year Legien led the Yorkton Terriers in scoring with 30 goals and 56 points in 51 games.
But with teenage hockey players, development can come later for some, and the Royals are hopeful that’s the case with Legien.
“He’s been a star player at certain ages. He’s been a player that’s struggled at certain times,” Hope said.
“But we know what he is, we think we know what he is and now he’s going to have an opportunity to get back in the Western League and show it.”
“Definitely playing last year in Yorkton gave me a lot of confidence and my teammates here have been welcoming and they’re accepting,” Legien said.
“Even making mistakes, those little mistakes where you’d be a little more nervous, now I’m more confident.”
The Royals have a recent history of getting the most out of older acquired players, like Alex Forsberg and Vladimir Bobylev.
The Royals will soon find out if Legien will have the same impact.