Jack Hillen may never been compared to Ryan Suter at the bargaining table and the contract he signed with the Capitals on Tuesday confirms it.
While Suter was pondering multi-year, multi-million-dollar offers from multiple NHL teams, his former teammate agreed to a one-year, 650,000 contract with the Capitals.
But that doesnt mean Hillen wasnt paying attention in Nashville while he and Suter shared the same ice every day.
I cant express enough how good Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are, Hillen said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. I think I learned so much just from watching, especially from Ryan Suter, because I think he plays a similar style of game to myself. Hes
not an overly big guy, but hes always in the right position.
At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Hillen is three inches shorter and eight pounds lighter than Suter and prides himself in being a reliable puck-moving defenseman with a strong and accurate first pass. But he says in one season watching Suter with the Nashville Predators he learned the value of how to play against some of the NHLs bigger forwards.
Ryan makes so many difficult plays look so easy, Hillen said. I think I learned a lot about body positioning and about what style I can play from watching Ryan Suter because he does everything well. Hes always in the right position. His game is what I try to tailor mine after and I think watching him for a year really helped me develop more as a defenseman.
The Caps certainly hope so. Hillen was added to a blue line that now boasts nine defensemen with NHL experience Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Mike Green, Roman Hamrlik, Dmitry Orlov, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and Kevin Marshall are the others -- and another Cameron Schilling who will be given a shot at cracking the starting six..
Im just going in there and will do my best in camp to earn my role or get a role on the team, Hillen said.
Hillen, 26, has recorded 56 points 10 goals, 46 assists and 129 penalty minutes in 230 NHL games with the New York Islanders and Predators. In 55 games with Nashville last season he had six points two goals, four assists, a plus-6 rating and 20 penalty minutes.
Hillen also got his first taste of NHL playoff action last spring when he played in two games against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Being with Nashville last year was such a change of pace for me from being with the Islanders, he said. Nashville has had great success, especially recently, and seeing what it was like being around that winning organization really helped open my eyes to a lot of things.
Im excited to be joining Washington, another successful organization and I think what I learned from last year is what successful teams do and I hope that I can come in and help contribute to Washington, whos had great success as well recently.