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Nemisz looking to establish his role this season

Monday, 12.17.2012 / 6:49 AM MT / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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Nemisz looking to establish his role this season

CALGARY, AB -- Greg Nemisz is at a crossroads in his professional career.

During his days in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires, he played a top-six role and racked up 248 points (115 goals, 133 assists) through 246 games in four seasons. He helped the Spits win back-to-back Memorial Cups and suited up for Canada in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship, winning a silver medal in the tournament.

His efforts led to him being drafted by the Flames in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft and hopes were high that he would be able to make a quick transition once his pro career started.

While he's settled into a scoring role with Abbotsford over the last couple of years, the offence hasn't come as effortlessly as it did during his junior days. In the 2010-11 campaign, Nemisz played 68 games with the Heat and posted 14 goals and 33 points. He made his NHL debut that season, playing six games with the Flames and recording his first NHL point during that stint, an assist in a 6-1 win over Edmonton on Apr. 6, 2011.

He dressed for 51 games with Abbotsford in 2011-12, amassing 13 goals and 29 points. His improved play in all three zones earned praise from both the Abbotsford coaching staff and Flames brass and the Courtice, ON product ended up playing nine games for Calgary.

He was sidelined for the first two months of the 2012-13 season with a lower body injury and made his debut on Nov. 30 in a tilt with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Given he went close to eight months without playing a game, he has spent his first seven games of the year getting back into the swing of things but there is no doubt he wants to shake off that rink rust as quickly as possible given what this season means to him.

"It's a huge season for Greg," Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward told Sportsnet 960 The Fan earlier this month. "Here's a guy that came in with a lot of promise out of the OHL, in Windsor, and went to Memorial Cup (tournaments), did some really good things there and put up points. He's had a decent little run here in Abbotsford over the last couple of years. He's gotten a call up here and there.

"But this is a marquee year for Nemo."

The biggest question facing Nemisz is his role as a professional. Will he continue to be a power forward, leaned on by coaches to produce offensively, or will he take on more of a checking role? During his time with the Flames, he was used as a bottom-six forward due to his limited experience and the coaching staff wanting to ease him into the pace of the game. But given he has only played 15 games in Flames silks, those outings aren't the best indicator of how he will be used long-term.

Going forward this year, Nemisz is going to have to decide what kind of player he's going to be and establish himself in that role.

"Right now, that's kind of what's on the table," Ward told Sportsnet 960 The Fan. "That's what is really going to push Greg this year. Are you going to finisher and score a lot of points and make a ton of plays or are you going to (have) more of a checking role mentality, use your size, play good hockey through five-on-five play through all three zones.

"That's where we're at with Greg right now and we're going to find out more over the next couple of months. He's anxious to get in there and get going."