Here are the links to yesterday’s story about the signing of Jase Weslosky and Jason Fredricks: in the Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun. I had the chance to speak to Karl Taylor about both players this morning.
(Before getting into his quotes, however, a disclaimer: Taylor said not to read into the fact that Weslosky and Fredricks were the first signings announced. David Walker was the first signing announced prior to Year 1, Jon Francisco the following year, and Tim Kraus and Francisco the next. Still, yesterday’s announcement doesn’t mean that Fredricks is going to be named captain, that Weslosky is going to be the number-one goalie all season, or that better players aren’t still coming down the pipe.)
Upward and onward …
You only got a brief look at Jase Weslosky. What made you want him back?
I think he’s a young pro and I really like how he plays. in the games he played for us, he played really well. He has a lot of upside. He’s got a big body. He’s good and square. He’s got a lot to offer. He’s really committed himself this summer. He’ll be in great shape when he returns.
Did you know all that about him when you traded for him at last season’s deadline?
You’re never quite sure. You do your research, you’re trying to make educated decisions. I saw him play one game against us, but we needed a goalie at that point. We needed someone to solidify us. I may not have known as much as I would’ve liked. There was a need, you take a chance and hopefully it works out.
Did you trade for him, in part, to give him an audition for 2011-12?
We needed a goalie. We weren’t eliminated. You’re looking at that (as an audition), but you’re trying to fill a void at the time, but also for the following year as well. He’s not a four or five-year guy that might go to Europe.
As a former NHL draft pick, a big goalie with mobility, talk about his potential.
I think he’s got a lot of promise. He needs to be training really hard this summer, really getting after it. I put it like Johnny Rheault and Geoff Walker like they did after their first year here – he needs a big summer to do the best he can at our level. He needs to work extremely hard. We voiced that to him at the end-of-year meetings.
Last year you came into camp with four goalies. What are Jase’s chances of becoming the number one goalie out of training camp this year?
I have no idea. It’s really hard because you don’t know what the Kings are going to do. He could be a large contributor at our level. I like him a lot. He’s got to come in and do a good job. Every year you hear you’re going to get a goalie, get this and that, but until you see them you don’t count on anything.
What do you like about Jason Fredricks?
He’s a great kid, a very nice individual, a good teammate. He’s very serious about what he does. There’s some upside there with him. I thought he did well paired with Shawn Germain in the stopper role. I think he has a little offense to him, more offense than he’s shown.
He mentioned a desire to be more of a factor on the scoresheet. What will he need to do to achieve that?
He’s got to focus on defending. You can’t just all of a sudden become something you’re not. He’s got to worry about what he control, and that’s being a great defender, being on the first PK unit. Sometimes you come in, want to get your numbers up, do this, do that – you lose your focus. As long as he remembers what his base is, what his core is, he’ll be fine.
It seemed like he became a very good skating defenseman once he got his confidence up last season. Would you say that’s his strong suit?
He had a good opportunity with us. We had some injuries and issues on the back end that allowed him to jump in, gain the confidence. If you feel you’re supported, your confidence will grow. It’s like that in any business. He was able to gain that last year. Hopefully he can build on it.
When you look at last season, what specifically are you hoping to improve?
We need to improve our back end. Once we had our injuries on our back end, it really hurt us. We need to add mobility, add some offensive D-men. Half the time we have 23 players going into camp and probably 15 don’t finish the year with us. It’s always based on needs. We can have four great mobile offensive defensemen, but by November they could be all gone. Your needs change as the year goes on. We want to be a solid defensive team. We want to be solid how we play, more of a possession team, but we need to create more offense.
You mentioned Shawn Germain, has he told you for sure whether he’s going into firefighting?
He’s still in the process and is on the right track. The door’s always open for Shawn, but we don’t expect it.