Out of a possible 144 games he could have played in his first two pro seasons, Jeremy Akeson has been limited to just 95. A devastating knee injury suffered in the 2008-09 playoffs limited him early on last season, and he then missed some time because of a broken hand.
This season, Akeson’s back with a vengeance, looking quicker than ever in camp and ready to contribute to a team that looks like it can make a playoff run.
“This is kind of the same situation after my first year, I had the knee problem and surgery on the sports hernia,” he said.
“I wanted to come in and have a healthy year, and 12 games in I broke my hand. I tried not to think about it too much this year. I just want to come out, have some fun and play the game. Obviously, it’s out of my hands if I get hurt or not. I did all the things off the ice I could to stay in shape. I’m just excited to get going.”
Some of that off-ice work Akeson did involved improving his quickness, and that showed in this year’s camp, as he was one of the strongest skaters in camp — impressive for someone listed at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.
“I’ve always been a bigger guy that can skate, and I like to use that to my advantage,” he said.
“But I did a lot of foot speed stuff and you can probably see I’ve worked out a lot this summer. The beginning of camp, guys usually look pretty good, so I’m just trying to keep it going for the rest of the year.”
Having been a member of the past two T-Devils squads, Akeson is excited for a possible opportunity to return to the postseason — which he essentially missed two seasons ago after being taken out by Elmira early in Game 1 of the epic seven-game series.
“My first year, we were supposed to have a pretty good team, but we got struck with injuries. My second year, it was the same thing,” Akeson told me.
“This year, in the three years I’ve been here, this is the most excited I’ve been with the team that we have. There are some kids in here, some of the prospects, they’re just fun to watch. A lot of them are high energy guys, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. The depth goes a long way now, especially this year.”
Depth, however, can be a downfall to some players, as it can prevent them for getting opportunities to move up in the organization. Akeson, however, is focused on contributing to Trenton, and letting the chips fall where they may.
“It’s something you try not to think about,” he said.
“You can sit there and dwell on it, but I had my chance when I was in junior, and obviously I didn’t get drafted. So it’s kind of just climbing the ladder now. Some of these guys now are coming out of junior and they got drafted, so you can’t sit there and dwell on it. Obviously, you want to get up to the next level, but you look at some of these younger kids and you want to see them get up to the next level just as much. My job on the team this year is to be a leader and be an older guy on the team that guys can look up to and come to for advice. As much as I’m trying to get up to the next level, I’m also trying to help these guys get up there too.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com