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Part 1: Catching Up With … Wolves Forward Josh Melnick

Last month, forward Josh Melnick signed a contract to return to the Wolves for the 2023-24 season. The 28-year-old is coming off his best season as a pro, notching 16 goals–three of them game-winners–and 19 assists in 71 games. In Part 1, Melnick discusses why he chose to return to the Wolves, his growth on and off the ice, being a leader and much more. 

What motivated you to re-sign with the Wolves?

“With the team going independent, I think it’s a really good opportunity for myself and some other guys in my situation.

And I would say the other part is just that I had a really good experience last year. I feel like the organization as a whole is great. There are a lot of great people around that you see every day and it’s a well-run organization. So, I feel comfortable here. I’m excited for another year to see what we can do.”

Why does playing for a Wolves team that will be independent for the 2023-23 season appeal to you?

“At the end of the day, it’s a business and I feel like a lot of people have been in that situation where—especially for an undrafted guy like me—you always have to work every day and come to the rink and earn your spot. But knowing that if you’re playing well and you earned your spot and deserve it, you’re going to be put in that spot and not really taken out for any prospects.”

How would you describe last season personally for you?

“I felt really good about my game. I would honestly say I think this past season I grew the most as a player, both on and off the ice. Just getting on the ice and growing a little bit in a leadership role and sort of maturing off the ice as well was big.

Numbers-wise, it was my personal-best season. So, I’m really just hoping to keep growing on that in terms of on-ice stuff.”

You mentioned your growth on and off the ice. Does that come with age?

It definitely comes with age a little bit. I’m a bit older now and I remember my first year coming into the league just talking to some of the older guys and they were saying to really take care of your body every single day and do the things you need to do to. Come to the rink every day, whether it’s a practice or a game, and make sure you’re prepared both mentally and physically.”

What do you think led to your increased offensive output?

“Honestly, I think it comes down to confidence. I definitely got some good opportunities last year where a couple of our older guys were injured for a bit and I was having to step into sort of a bigger role and it came down to just recognizing areas of my game where I could do a little bit more.

I feel like as a player, there are certain things in the back of your head where—especially if you watch film or watch things back—where you understand how you can do certain things differently and use everything in your skill pool that you have available.”

What can you do to take it to yet another level?

I need to focus on shooting the puck more. I’ve always been a pass-first guy, which is obviously something that I’m not going to change about my game, but there are certain times when I can shoot the puck and maybe not score, but create a little chaos or even set up a rebound for someone else.

But the defensive side of my game has always been my strong suit and I feel like year after year I find different ways to get on the scoresheet a little bit more. That’s something that I’ve worked on the past couple of summers and I’ve seen some success during the season. I’m just looking to grow in that way and overall just be a little bit more of an offensive threat every time I step out there.”

Bob Nardella has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach. Thoughts on that move?

“I’m really excited. He was hired right around the same time I signed my contract and we had a nice little chat just talking about next season. I’m definitely excited to see him step into that role. He was our forward coach last season—obviously, he worked with the D-men too—but with certain things you have to let the head coach take over and you don’t necessarily get to say as much. So, I’m excited to see how he handles things. He’s obviously got a lot of experience and he’s very knowledgeable about the game.”

Do you envision taking on more of a leadership role DURING THE ’23-24 SEASON?

“At the end of the day, regardless of whether you have a letter on your jersey, you have to be a leader at some point. There are guys who are a little bit more vocal and some guys maybe lead a little bit more by example. I would classify myself as more of a lead by example kind of guy, but that’s another thing that I feel like I grew last season in being a little bit more vocal. This season I feel like I’ll do the same just get out of the comfort zone a little bit. And holding guys accountable is huge as well as steering guys in the right direction.”

You made great strides last season. Is playing in the NHL still the dream?

“Absolutely and it has been since I joined the league. I haven’t necessarily gotten that opportunity yet but I know it’s not something that’s going to be given to you—it’s got to be earned. So that’s my goal at the end of the day. If you come to the rink ready and prepared and you do the right things on the ice, opportunities will come.”

Coming next week: Part 2.