Nine points through three games leads to talk that Trisen Neilsen is trending towards an NHL free-agent deal

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Vancouver Giants forward Tristen Nielsen maintains he needs to stay on task and that coach Michael Dyck is more than willing to help him with that.

Nielsen’s five goals and nine points through three games in this B.C. Division hub season are getting him some buzz as a possible NHL free-agent signing. Hockey Night in Canada insider Elliotte Friedman even mentioned Nielsen in that regard in his 31 Thoughts column on Monday, information that Friedman surely gleaned from an interested NHL club.

Nielsen says that he still needs to keep playing a two-way game for the Giants, that he can’t chase points at the expense of own zone in a bid to get a pro deal. Dyck is firmly on that page, too, it would seem.

“I didn’t play eight or nine minutes in the second period because Dycker didn’t think I was playing the right way,” Nielsen said of Vancouver’s 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Victoria Royals on Tuesday at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops. “We talked about it. We talked about it again in the intermission. He told me what I needed to do to fix it. It got me back into my game for the third period.

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“I’ve always thought of the WHL as a 19 and 20-year-old league and you need to have expectations of those players. You need your 19 and 20-year-old players to show the other guys the way. That’s what I need to do now.”

Nielsen scored the tying goal on a power play and then teamed with Justin Sourdif to set up Eric Florchuk for the winner in the third that night against Victoria. Nielsen had a natural hat trick in the first period against the Kelowna Rockets on Sunday and added two assists later as a part of Vancouver’s 6-0 win.

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Nielsen’s in his final year of junior eligibility, having turned 21 in February. The Fort St. John native had 30 goals and 65 points in 61 regular season games with Vancouver last season. Eustace King, Nielsen’s Los Angeles-based agent, says that Nielsen was slated to attend an NHL development camp and then an NHL rookie camp ahead of this season but both of those events were cancelled because of COVID-19.

King says that he’s hearing again from NHL clubs regarding Nielsen. Giants general manager Barclay Parneta says similar things. Neither will get into particulars.

Nielsen has shown that he can score at the WHL level — he gets rid of the puck in a hurry when he’s on his game — but he’s also quick and feisty and apt to play bigger than his 5-foot-10, 188-pound frame. You can see an NHL team giving him a chance to be an energy-type forward in their system to start and then letting it play out from there.

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Attention to detail in his own zone will of course be crucial to that. And that brings us back to Dyck.

“I’ve learned since coming to Vancouver about what it takes to be reliable in your own zone,” said Nielsen, who came to the Giants from the Calgary Hitmen in a trade that saw forward James Malm head east on Oct. 31, 2018 “Coming here and learning from Dycker and Hewie (former Giants associate coach Jamie Heward) really helped my overall game.”

Nielsen did admit that the things like the Friedman mention are a “confidence booster.”

“But I can’t get caught up in that stuff or stuff on social media. It’s going to affect how I play,” Nielsen said.

SEwen@postmedia.com

Twitter: @SteveEwen

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