By Kristi Hennessy, WinnipegJets.com
Julian Melchiori is yet another defenseman under the prospect wing of the Winnipeg Jets.
Almost one year ago around this time, Melchiori was getting ready for his first NHL prospect camp, a tournament held in Penticton, BC last September. He had just one major junior season with OHL’s Kitchener Rangers under his belt at that time. The late-born December baby will see his 21st birthday on Dec. 6th, putting him over the age of eligibility to play in the Canadian Hockey League. This means that he must turn professional next season, after just two junior seasons on his resume.
Melchiori, 20, started the 2011-’12 season with the Rangers, where he had 2 goals, 19 assists and 42 penalty minutes in 35 games. He was acquired in January by the Oshawa Generals and added 17 assists in 26 games. He then tallied a pair of goals and an assist in 6 playoff games.
The Richmond Hill, Ont., native was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the third round, 87th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. After the Generals were bumped out of the OHL playoffs, he joined the IceCaps in St.John’s. He made his AHL debut on April 14th. He said the experience was much more than just that one night.
“It was really good,” said Melchiori. “I was there for two months and it was a great experience for me. It’s going to help me a lot going into next year, having a leg up on some that haven’t been there before. I’m going to use that experience the best I can and go in there next year and really fight for a spot.”
At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, Melchiori has been working very hard at developing physically along with developing his mental game. IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge mentioned last September in Penticton that he saw a younger guy who is growing into his body.
“That size and co-ordination and balance, it’s a matter of everything coming together. I believe it will,” said McCambridge.
“I feel good right now physically and fitness wise but I still have a long way to go before September,” Melchiori said during development camp in July. “I’ve been training with Gary Roberts in the summer so hopefully I’ll be where I want to be come September.”
Roberts is a strong believer of developing professionals not only on the ice but outside of the rink as well, and everything that comes along with it.
“He’s a pretty intense guy,” Melchiori smiled. “It’s a great program and a great atmosphere. He keeps you on your toes all the time and really demands a lot out of us, which is great. It’s amazing to be around a guy like that with so much credibility and so many prerequisites under his belt.”
Melchiori says one of the main things that he’s changed in his off-season training routine is learning about recovery.
“In the past, during the summer I’ve just gone at- and gone at it,” he explained. “But I feel with Gary, he really teaches you a lot more on how to understand your body, when to push yourself, when to take a day off and when to recover. That’s something I’d like to learn a lot about and use it in pro.”