Allard ready for challenge

Robin
Robin Short
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JUNIOR HOCKEY Fog Devils expect improvement

He's big and strong, can skate and has plenty of upside, which probably swayed the Buffalo Sabres to grab him in the NHL Entry Draft last June.

Now the St. John's Fog Devils are looking to Jean-Simon Allard translating that promise to points on the board.

He's big and strong, can skate and has plenty of upside, which probably swayed the Buffalo Sabres to grab him in the NHL Entry Draft last June.

Now the St. John's Fog Devils are looking to Jean-Simon Allard translating that promise to points on the board.

Allard, the first-ever Fog Devils' midget draft pick (fourth overall in the 2005 lottery), figures to be a key player in what could be a breakthrough season for the third-year expansion club.

While they're still a player or four away from a run at the President's Cup Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship, the Fog Devils expect to be a much-improved team this season with German goalie Timo Pielmeier stopping pucks, T.J. Brennan, another Sabres' draft pick, quarterbacking the power play and decent depth up front.

Allard, 18, is coming off a 50-point season and while that total wasn't especially poor for a second-year player, he will be expected to contribute more than the 12 goals he potted last season.

"We feel," coach/GM Real Paiement said recently, "he can score more goals this year ... go over 20.

"Fifty points is not bad for a second-year guy, especially when everybody says he can do better and compete better.

"I believe he can become the type of player where opponents are going to check him because he could make the difference in a game.

"He's looked more confident in (training) camp. Is it the fact he got drafted, the fact he went to a pro (rookie) camp and saw how it's done? He looks much more confident with the puck."

Allard was selected in the fifth round, 147th overall, by the Sabres. He and Brennan, the first pick in the second round by Buffalo last June, will be at the team's training camp when it opens Friday.

Other Fog Devils off to NHL camps are Pielmeier (San Jose), Mario Kempe (Philadelphia) and Matt Fillier (Los Angeles).

Nobody has to tell Allard, a 6-3, 195-pound forward from Alma, Que.., this is a big year for him.

"It's very important," he said. "And I expect a lot of myself. The past two years have been a learning experience, but this year, it's my turn to show leadership."

A natural centreman who often plays the point on the power play, Paiement may toy with the idea of moving Allard to the wing when he returns from Buffalo.

That's because the Fog Devils are deep at centre with Wes Welcher, Luke Adam, Nick Layton, Taylor MacDougall and rookies Chris Thorne and Pier-Alexandre Dion.

"We tried a few scenarios in camp," Paiement said. "Some clicked, some didn't. The first 10 games (of the regular season), we'll mix and match."

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Buffalo Sabres, Cup Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, NHL

Geographic location: St. John's, Buffalo, San Jose Philadelphia Los Angeles Alma, Que

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Recent comments

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Seems like we hear these Sprung Greenhouse promises of a better team every year Robin. We'll see.

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Seems like we hear these Sprung Greenhouse promises of a better team every year Robin. We'll see.