I spoke to Justin Danforth at practice last week about his time in the NHL last season and the upcoming campaign.
You scored at a pretty good rate last year (10 goals in 45 games equates to 18 goals over an 82-game season). How good did it feel to have that success last season?
Danforth: "I think it's obviously good to have different tools in your toolbox. And for me, I can play up and down a lineup and I bring energy but also, I'm not scared to go to the dirty areas where the goals are scored. Just something I learned last year is [that] it's hard to score goals from the outside and beating these d-men one-on-one so I thought my best bet would just be [to] get to the net, get a good stick on the puck or, you know, battle for pucks around the net, finish off plays, you know, take take, bear down your chances. So it's good to have definitely had that offensive upside."
You've played on the top power-play unit at times this preseason? How much power-play time have you had in your career and are these the best players you've ever played with on a power-play?
Danforth: "Yeah, I'd probably say so when you got [Patrik Laine], [Johnny] Gaudreau, [Zach] Werenski, [Jakub] Voracek in front of the net. It doesn't get much better than that. Obviously, I played with some good players in the past on the power play, but I mean, that's four elite of elite players. So it's fun. They're so good at what they do and it was a chance for me to get in there and try and complement their game and their power play and it was fun."
You're coming into this training camp with a number of NHL games under your belt. Do you have a different mindset this year than in previous years?
Danforth: "Yeah, I don't think there's any like "dip my toe in" anymore. I think that I know I'm an NHL hockey player and I feel that the confidence is there and it's definitely not easier this year, but I feel more comfortable on the ice, [and I have] more confidence and I think that goes a long way with professional athletes. Just when they see other people believing in them and then they believe in themself. It definitely helps your game and just lets you relax and just play hockey."
The Blue Jackets play two more preseason games: Tuesday in Columbus against St. Louis and Saturday in Washington against the Capitals.