After all here were the Sabres, ten years removed from selecting Portland power forward Paul Gaustad with the 220th pick, using another seventh rounder on a hard-nosed, 6'5 220-pounder from the WHL's Winterhawks.
Gaustad's commitment to strength and conditioning started as a junior, so much that the Portland training staff names its annual fitness award after the current Sabres grindmaster. Earlier this week, the similarities between the two role players continued as Boychuk earned his second straight Gaustad Fitness Award as the 'Hawks get ready for their 2010-11 campaign.
“I have to chase Riley out of the weight room,” said Campbell. “He’s real in tune with wanting to stay in shape and stay strong and sometimes he does too much. I have to keep my eye on him that way.”
For Boychuk’s part, winning the Paul Gaustad Fitness Award is fitting, as not only does he model his game after Gaustad, but has worked out with him in the offseason. As a Sabres draft pick, he’s also looking to one day become his teammate.
“He’s a great role model,” said Boychuk. “I think his style of play is similar to mine – all hard work. As a power forward you have to create room for your linemates. He’s a good role model for anyone to look up to.”
Both are known for their size and grit. The pair even share a February birth date. With all things considered, it seems that Boychuk is in line for a statistical breakout this season.
1999-00 (age 17/18) 56GP 6-8-14 110 PIM
2000-01 (age 18/19) 70GP 11-30-41 168 PIM
2001-02 (age 19/20) 72GP 36-44-80 202 PIM
2008-09 (age 17/18) 62GP 7-10-17 86PIM
2009-10 (age 18/19) 66GP 14-16-30 157PIM
2010-11 (age 19/20) ????
Like the Goose nearly a decade ago, Boychuk's third full season begins amid heightened expectations. The Winterhawks will have eight NHL draft picks on their roster, and with the suggestion made a few posts down that he could potentially double his numbers from a year ago, the expectation is that he'll contribute on many levels in what could be his final season in juniors.