On Thursday, I had the chance to speak with Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Peeke about his off-season training, entering a contract year, and more.
Zach Werenski said you look bigger. Can you put a number on how much weight and/or muscle you gained over the off-season?
Peeke: "I put on about 10-12 pounds. Good weight, I'd like to think, or I know [that it's good weight]. It was a good summer it was something I really wanted to accomplish. The style of play that I bring to the table, just being physical and then adding that extra strength I think will only benefit me. I put that at the top of my list of things I wanted to accomplish.
First NHL goal? That's Peeke performance, Andrew. pic.twitter.com/OQD6rHTqFu— NHL (@NHL) February 16, 2020
You took a beating last season blocking as many shots as you did. How nice was it to have a summer where you don't have to eat pucks all day every day?
Peeke: "I mean, It's part of the job [and] I enjoy doing that stuff. You know, summer's always good. It's nice. You get relaxed and you kind of get into a routine of working out [and] skating. You take some time off because the season is long, it's a grind, it's challenging. There's ups and downs [but] you hit that point in the summer where you want to get back to eating those pucks and then you want to come back to be with the guys. So being here at camp, everyone's got that excitement. The season is just around the corner. So it's fun. It's good."
Scorin' goals and throwin' the body— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 25, 2021
The Andrew Peeke Way pic.twitter.com/Og0qI5DAGi
Heading into your second full season, what piece of advice would you give if you could go back in time to last year?
Peeke: "A big thing is just continuing to take care of your body and eating well and getting your sleep. There's so much travel. You play so many games, whether it's back to back or every other night that you don't really have that much time to reset or refocus. [It] kind of all hits you at once, so just take it day by day. And that's what I really focused on last year is taking care of your body, [focusing] on each day. Each day is gonna bring something new and when [an] opportunity comes, take advantage of it."
What have you seen from Denton Mateychuk in your short time together?
Peeke: "He seems like a smooth skating defenseman, [he] moves the puck well. Just a lot of new faces and competition and that's always exciting. You know, having guys push you, it makes you want to improve and be better every time so, it was cool seeing him, he's a high draft pick and he looks like a good prospect we have."
There's a lot of competition for the first-pair right-defensemen with players including Adam Boqvist, Erik Gudbranson, and Nick Blankenburg. How much internal competition is there?
Peeke: "Yeah, definitely, there is an internal competition. Signing Gudbranson, he's a big defenseman, [he's] played a lot of years in the NHL. It's good though. It brings out the best in you. You want to push each other, you want to push yourself, and it brings the best out of you know, each guy and who could rise up to that challenge. And playing with [Werenski] the amount I did last year, obviously, you get a taste of it, you don't want to lose that taste, you only want to continue to keep doing it. So that's my focus. I think everyone wants to play on that top pair [for] as many minutes as they can. And for me, having that opportunity is going to be up for the taking, and hopefully, I do that."
Is there any added pressure going into a contract year?
Peeke: "No, I mean, it is [a contract year], everyone knows it is. But you just try and focus like I kind of talked about, focus day by day, game by game, each day camp and, that'll get resolved when it gets resolved. And that's what you have an agent for and you try not to think about it too much and you just focus on being with the guys and trying to find ways to win."