by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
The easy thing to notice when you look at Houston Aeros forward Jon DiSalvatore‘s career is production.
His resume has been one long stretch of consistency, with numbers that put him at or near the top of scoring lists in Cleveland, Worcester, Peoria, San Antonio and Lowell.
DiSalvatore himself reviews his career and sees something else — holes.
"Although you can look and say the production has been there, maybe you look at my game and say there’re some aspects that need to be enhanced," he said. "There’s nothing wrong with feeling like you have to prove yourself."
The Aeros and head coach Kevin Constantine are glad to give him another new forum to do that.
DiSalvatore is tied for the team lead in scoring but his relatively modest totals — three goals and 11 assists — hint at something else going on here. DiSalvatore, 28, said he realizes he’s at the stage of his career where any further NHL action is going to have to come in the role of an energy guy.
That’s where Houston’s system this season fits him like a worn, comforting set of gloves. Constantine is trying to roll through a lot of forwards, which is why no one has shiny offensive totals. But DiSalvatore said with the shorter durations of his shifts, he’s taken on the fourth-line mentality of going at a higher tempo.
"It’s interesting. We’re a team that goes short shifts, goes at you really hard. It’s just the consistency and mental awareness, finishing your check, putting yourself in a situation where you can jump on pucks and create more offensive zone time," he said. "The focus on it is new for me. I think it’s helping. We feel like we create a lot of scoring chances."
At the same time, DiSalvatore hopes he’s creating something for himself. He’s been a free agent four times in his career, landing with four different teams in an effort to find one that sees him as an NHL player. The grand payoff for all that shuffling has been five career NHL games, all with St. Louis in 2005-06.
"I’m not disappointed with any of my (career) choices. Hindsight is a ridiculous thing," he said. "I like to think I went each place for some sort of reason…. I guess you always hope if you have a good year, you may get rewarded. It’s a tough jump (to the NHL). I try not to get frustrated.
"It’s still been a great career in the American League."
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com. Read today’s complete column here.