By Carl Chimenti –
It’s not every day that a scout compares someone’s playing style to Nicklas Lidstrom’s.
When Dalton Young was signed by the Saginaw Spirit, general manager Jim Paliafito – then the team’s director of scouting – said that the Marysville, Mich., native reminded him of the Wings’ future hall-of-famer.
“Dalton is a very skilled, smart player,” said Paliafito. “He is an excellent skater whose style reminds me of defenseman Nick Lidstrom from the Detroit Red Wings.”
When told about Paliafito’s reference to his game being similar to the Wings’ No. 5, he laughed and was sort of lost for words.
“Wow, I don’t know what to say about that, this is the first time I have heard about it,” said a surprised Young. “That is a very high compliment to say to anyone and pretty nice of him, in mentioning Lidstrom’s name with mine.”
Young says he has a lot of work to do as he strives to become a pro hockey player and with this year as his NHL draft year he hopes to be selected come June.
“I have watched Lidstrom as well as many of the other NHL defensemen and their playing style hoping to pick things up to better my game,” said the ‘93-born player. “Watching them play and learning how and what they do will help you out in the long run.”
So when Young says that he only started playing defense in his first season with Belle Tire as a Minor Midget, it makes one shake their head out of confusion.
“I played forward through out my youth hockey until I made the switch in my first year of AAA hockey,” said Young. “At the time there was, too many forwards on the team so the coach asked me if I wanted to play on the blue line and I took the opportunity.”
Clearly he doesn’t have any regrets on making the switch.
“I like playing as a defenseman a lot better,” says Young. “I don’t find it that tough a position to play and I feel very comfortable on the blue-line.”
Young is a product of the Michigan Hockey system and played U-16 and U-18 with Belle Tire. Appearing in a total of 77 games, during two seasons, he scored 13 goals and 39 points along with a goal and an assist in four playoff games. Following Major Midget, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound defender was drafted in the United States Hockey League (USHL), in the 16th round, 197th overall, by the Des Moines Buccaneers, in 2009.
With various options he decided to go the OHL route and signed as a free agent.
“It was during mid-season in my Midget Major year, I got a call from Saginaw,” recalled Young. “After weighing all my options I thought the OHL and the Saginaw Spirit was a better fit and looking back now it was the right choice.”
Now in his second season with the Spirit, Young has seen his ice time dramatically increase.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable out on the ice and that comes from playing more,” stated Young. “It all starts in practice, working and trying new things that I can use during games. That has helped me get settled in my overall abilities.”
Young is approaching the 100-game plateau with the Spirit and to date has totaled four goals, 14 assists and 18 points.
When asked what’s most important for a defenseman, he answers quickly.
“Confidence,” Young said. “It helps you to hold on to the puck a second longer, or moving the puck quicker. Having confidence has definitely helped me out a lot.”