Interview With Pens Prospect Nathan Moon
Nathan Moon – C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) – Selected #120 Overall – 5’11 – 179 lbs
2008/2009 Statistics – 52GP – 24G – 29A – 53pts – 69PIM
Nathan Moon has had one tumultuous season. From scary incidents on the ice, to scratches, to trade rumors, to highlight reel goals, this offensive talent has experienced everything this year. I had the chance to chat with Nathan last night and ask him about his wild year and what the future holds.
Jesse Marshall: Nathan, there are a lot of people in Pittsburgh that haven’t had the chance to watch you play hockey. How would you describe yourself as a player to those people?
Nathan Moon: I have a great gift for scoring goals and for play-making ability. I’ve worked a lot on my defensive zone stuff this year and towards the end of last year. I think I’ve done a lot to become a more complete player, which Pittsburgh told me I had to become. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and I know that’s going to take me from the big jump to the AHL and the NHL. That’s what my ultimate dream is, to play in the NHL for Pittsburgh, so whatever I have to do to get there is what I’m going to do.
JM: Last year, after you were drafted, you attended the prospect camp in Pittsburgh before heading back to work with the Frontenacs. You mentioned your defensive zone work, did Pittsburgh give you a list of things to work on, things to take back with you to Kingston?
NM: Yeah, for sure. I sat down with everyone after the prospect tournament and they basically just told me what I had to work on. In the defensive zone I had to get better. I gotta get stronger, bigger a little bit so I don’t get muscled off the puck by some of the bigger guys that are older than I am. I took it to heart. Over the summer and through the course of this season I think I’ve gotten stronger and been better in my defensive zone.
JM: Have the Penguins been in contact with you at all through the course of this year?
NM: Yeah, they do a great job of following their prospects. Tommy Fitzgerald followed me around, I get a text from him every once in awhile to see what’s going on, and he comes to a lot of games and tells you how you’re playing. Straight up, that’s what you have to do in order to get good feedback and bad feedback, you gotta feed off all that stuff.
JM: It’s been a pretty intense season in Kingston for you, Nathan. There have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. There was a coaching change, a lot of rumors in the middle of the year around the trade deadline, etc. How has the focus been for you and has it been tough to just be yourself in the midst of all that stuff?
NM: Yeah, a bit. But you have to put all that stuff behind you when you’re playing hockey and just focus on your game and yourself. Like you said, there were a lot of trade rumors, my name was thrown out there, but I got told I wasn’t going anywhere and once I found that out it was time to just bear down and step up for the team. I’ve been around this team, I’m a third year player, so I know a lot of the younger guys look up to me. Like you said, there was also that coaching change that happened this year with Mav’s stepping down and Doug Gilmour taking over, but Doug Gilmour has taught me a lot this year. He scratched me one game this year and I took it to heart. I wasn’t playing my best, and like I said, if you want to make the big jump, you’ve got to play every shift like it’s your last.
JM: What kind of impact has Doug Gilmour had on the locker-room for you guys? Would you say that you’re more confident playing under him up to this point in the season?
NM: I wouldn’t say more confident, there’s just a lot more structure in our game. In practice, we’re getting drills done at a quicker pace, a high-intensity pace. They’re all intense and game related. We’re not sitting around, waiting and watching the same drill over and over again, we’re doing drills on and on, everyday there are new ones, and they’re about game situations, like I said. They’re going to translate into the games. The past couple games, couple weeks, we’ve been coming on strong. We have to carry that through this year and into next year.
JM: Like you said, you guys are coming off a pretty good week. You’ve strung some wins together, looking a lot better on the ice as well. Is the attitude in the room different?
NM: Yeah, for sure. When you go on those 8 to 10 game losing streaks, everyone can get pretty feisty with each other. That’s when the leaders and veterans come in and have to sit everyone down just to say that we still got this thing, this season isn’t over yet. That’s what we did when Dougie came in, and everyone stuck to the system, so far we’ve been structured. We’ve gotten victories over the high end teams like London and Brampton, so we’re just gonna have to keep doing that the rest of the season.
JM: This year especially, Nathan, it looks like you’ve gotten a lot more creative offensively. Do you find yourself this season being more patient with the puck? Do you find that anything has been added to your game this year, or is it just experience?
NM: Like you said, it’s just experience. I think I’ve been able to have more time with the puck this year, I’ve learned that I have more time than I think out there. I just started to create some space for myself and for my teammates and I try to dish the puck off when I can. Like you said, just be creative as I can, too. I think this year, especially the past couple weeks, I’ve been a lot more creative than I was last year. Dougie took me aside and said when your offensive abilities take over just do what you can and be creative. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’ve done that, as long as you can back your team up when you make a mistake and recover, you’ll be fine.
JM: This year especially, one thing I’ve noticed about you is that maybe after the play is over, you’ve been in a couple guys’ faces, using your stick on them, talking a little bit. Is that something that’s just becoming part of your game or was that born out of frustration just given the situation?
NM: I think it’s a little of both. I like to get under some players’ skin. You’re not going to push me over or my teammates around without battling for it. We’re a small team this year without a lot of tough guys, we traded away our tough guys at the trade deadline, so our veterans have to step up for a lot of the younger guys on the club. We can’t be known as a team that gets pushed around. Some of the guys that might not be known as tough guys have to step up a little bit once in awhile and show the other team that we’re not afraid of them.
JM: Speaking of some of the younger guys on your team, talk about Ethan Werek for a second. He’s had a great rookie season so far, what are some of the things he’s brought to the table for Kingston?
NM: Ethan Werek and I room together on the road sometimes, we’re pretty good buddies. He brings to a lot to the table. Like me, he’s great offensively; great on draws, he can be put in any situation. He had a little slow start at the beginning of the season, he was a little frustrated, I took him aside and I told him not to worry about it, it’s your rookie season. Just keep battling, don’t worry about the NHL draft because I know he was worried about it. Just go out play your game, scouts are going to notice that and they’re going to pick you high if you keep playing like you are.
JM: Do you guys feel good about going into next season with Kingston? We’ve talked about Ethan Werek, you’re going to get some other guys back as well. Mavric Parks has shown some really good skill in goal. Do you guys feel good heading into next season with Doug?
NM: Yeah that’s the big thing about this year. Doug came in halfway through the season, he didn’t really have a feel for us up until the past couple weeks and months. Next year, come training camp, we’ll have a full year with him, so that will be great.
JM: Okay, easy stuff. Any pregame meals?
NM: Pasta with chicken.
JM: Any nickname?
JM: Any weird superstitions?
NM: Not really. I guess I always make sure I put my right skate on first.
Thanks to Nathan for taking the time to talk to us. We wish him the best of luck in his trek to make it to the NHL!