‘One of a Kind’ Letang a Model for Calen Addison

2018 second-round pick adjusting to bigger and stronger pro game

Josh Rowntree
June 27, 2019 - 3:00 pm
Penguins defenseman Calen Addison at development camp in June 2019

Josh Rowntree - 93.7 The Fan

CRANBERRY (93.7 The Fan) - Come the fall, Calen Addison will not have to look far for a prime example of the player he hopes to become. Or so he hopes.

Addison, a smooth skating, 19-year-old defenseman, was drafted in the second round of last year’s NHL Draft by the Penguins. 

Offensively gifted for his position, Addison views Penguins star defenseman Kris Letang as a perfect illustration of the player he hopes to become.

“They’ve given me a good idea as to what I need to work on and what my strengths are,” Addison said Wednesday at Pittsburgh’s development camp. “They just let me play my game. But it doesn’t get much better than a guy like Kris Letang. If you can work on things to model yourself after him, you’re heading in the right direction.”

Letang’s name has been tossed around in offseason trade rumors. But, for a player like Addison, the organization parting ways with one of its most prolific defenseman could be a detriment. 

“He’s a special player,” Addison said. “He’s one of those guys that’s one-of-a-kind. Whatever happens happens, but when I come here to camp in September, getting to watch that guy every day is something special.”

Addison is small. 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. But his offensive acumen is, at times, breathtaking. A year ago he scored 11 goals and added 54 assists for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. He was nearly a point-per-game player on the blue line.

His season ended with a brief, three game stint in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with the Penguins’ minor league affiliate. He impressed there, putting up a pair of assists against bigger and better competition.

“It was huge, getting up there and getting some games in,” he said. “The biggest thing was just learning how to play against men. It’s a huge difference in age and size of the guys. That was the biggest difference, just learning how to battle against them. 

“I know I’m not going to be able to hit guys off the puck all the time, so I just have to defend smart with my feet and my stick.”

Addison was one of the bigger name’s at last year’s development camp, when nerves, naturally, ran wild during his first organized activity with the team. 

“It’s a lot easier coming back for your second year,” he said. “Those nerves are gone, those first year nerves. It’s just nice to get back out there, get your feet moving under you and get back to full speed again.”

The line of communication appears strong between Addison and Penguins’ management and coaches. He can pinpoint exactly what areas of his game he thrives in and, more importantly, where he needs to improve.

“Defensive awareness, just being aware at all times where guys are and not getting puck focused,” he said. “Just being on the right side of the puck all the time and just battling in every battle like it’s your last.”

In April, Addison made his commitment to the Penguins official when he signed his three-year, entry level contract. Although a formality, he gleamed when being asked about signing an NHL contract for the first time.

“That’s one thing I’ve dreamt of my whole life,” he said. “That was my biggest dream. I always wanted an NHL contract. So here we are and the work starts now.”

Where Addison goes is intriguing. He’s young and, admittedly, needs to work on his defensive abilities. But his offensive gifts could make him a viable option for Pittsburgh in the near future.

While Penguins 2019 first-round pick Samuel Poulin made a strong claim about making the NHL team this season, Addison seems content, for now, at letting the chips fall as they may for the upcoming season.

“Wherever Pittsburgh tells me to go is where I’m going,” he said. “I just want to work on my defensive game. My skating and my offense is always going to be there. I just have to work on my defense and battle.”

Hear more from our talk with Penguins defenseman Calen Addison below.