by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
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.
The way that Worcester defenseman Derek Joslin has been flying around the ice this season, it’s clear that a few extra ounces haven’t slowed him down.
Don’t be fooled by the ease with which Joslin handles leadership and responsibility. The weight of an "A" has been known to sit heavy on the chests of all types of players, many much older and experienced than Joslin, 21, a second-year pro.
"I definitely didn’t come into the year expecting a letter," Joslin said. "[Head coach Roy Sommer] just came in at the beginning of the season and said, ‘You are going to be a leader this year. You are very consistent, get along with all the guys.’ I was thrilled."
Calling Joslin consistent is as redundant as noting that ice is slippery. He’s played in all 34 Worcester games this season, and skated in every one of the team’s 80 games last season. That followed three full years with the Ottawa 67’s when he dressed for every regular-season and playoff contest.
"It’s a nice little streak going. We’ll try to keep it up," Joslin said. "People are starting to bring it to my attention. I try not to think about it. I’m kind of superstitious."
More important than just showing up every night, Joslin quickly appears to be getting a lot better. He opened with a solid 10 goals and 24 assists last season, and this year ranks tied for seventh among AHL defensemen with 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists).
There’s also a decided aggressiveness to his game this year, one that stems from overcoming a shyness about shooting and figuring out ways to exploit lanes that are open for just a blink. He’s tied for the lead among AHL defensemen with 107 shots on goal.
"I’m trying to do everything San Jose has told me to do, shoot the puck, get my shots on net," Joslin said. "I had fun last year, but was new to the league. Maybe I was a little more nervous. I’ve played these teams before. I know what to expect on the ice."
That, in turn, circles back to Worcester asking more from him as one of the team’s stabilizers. Dependability is important, but for all of Joslin’s iron-man moments he also understands that quality can be fleeting.
"It’s tough to stay consistent in this league. You play so many games," he said. "I come to the rink knowing I’m going to play. The coach depends on me. But it’s something I have to earn as well. There’s someone waiting in the wings to take my job."