“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – James Livingston

Photo courtesy of Alex Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On March 11, San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced the team had signed unrestricted free agent forward James Livingston of the Ontario Hockey League’s {OHL} Plymouth Whalers to an entry-level contract.

“We are excited about James joining the San Jose Sharks organization,” said Wilson in a press release on the Sharks website.  “He is a big winger who is not afraid to go to the tough areas to score goals, but is also very responsible defensively.  We are looking forward to watching him develop in our system.”

Described by hockeysfuture.com as “a big winger who knows how to crash the opposition’s net, is difficult to move when there, and an excellent forechecker who knows how to finish his checks,” Livingston was selected in the first round {fifith overall} of the 2006 OHL Priority Selection by the Sault Ste. Marie {Soo} Greyhounds.

In his rookie OHL season, 2006-07, Livingston registered seven points on two goals and five assists to go along with 95 penalty minutes in 60 regular season games played.  In the Greyhounds’ 13 playoff games, Livingston registered one point on one goal to go along with 15 penalty minutes.

Viewing his rookie season as a learning experience, Livingston worked hard over the summer and returned to the Greyhounds for the 2007-08 season a year older and a year wiser.

In the Greyhounds first three games of the 2007-08 season, Livingston registered six points on four goals and two assists.  For the season, Livingston registered 44 points on 21 goals and 23 assists to go along with 135 penalty minutes in 68 regular season games played.

“He’s going to the net harder and he’s more determined,” said then Greyhounds head coach Craig Hartsburg in an interview with Peter Ruicci for a 2007 Sault Star article.  “James is stronger and he’s getting into the areas in front of the net where he can find those pucks.  We just have to remind him how he’s going to score – by going to the net and finding the rebounds.”

Playing on a line with veterans Matt Lyall and Brandon MacLean, the trio provided a relentless forecheck to go along with their scoring touch {All three were 20-goal scorers} in leading the Greyhounds to their best regular season record since 1985, finishing with a record of 44-18-2-4.

In addition, the Greyhounds enjoyed their longest playoff run since 1994 as they reached the conference finals before being eliminated by the Kitchener Rangers in five games.  In the Greyhounds’ 14 playoff games, Livingston registered five points on two goals and three assists to go along with 14 penalty minutes.

While the Greyhounds fell short of achieving their team goal in winning the OHL Championship and going on to the Memorial Cup tournament, Livingston achieved a personal goal that summer as he was drafted in the third round {70th overall} of the 2008 National Hockey League {NHL} Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues.

18-years-old at the time he was drafted, Livingston was shooting hoops in front of his Newmarket, Ont., home, when he was informed by Greyhounds teammate Andrew Campbell he had been drafted with the following text message:  “Congratulations, buddy.”

Putting the basketball down, Livingston went into the house as his agent, Darren Ferris, was on the telephone and his parents saw the family name pop up online, where they’d been monitoring the draft.

“I woke up at 9 a.m. and was planning on going to the gym,” said Livingston in an interview with Ruicci for a 2008 Sault Marie article.”  But curiosity just crept up on me.  Midway through the second round, I tried to take a little nap but I didn’t really sleep.”

After attending the Blues’ Rookie Development Camp that summer, Livingston returned to the Greyhounds for the 2008-09 season.  That season saw major changes in “The Soo” as assistant coach Denny Lambert was promoted to head coach after coach Hartsburg left to become head coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.  In addition, assistant coach Zoltan  “Toots” Kovacs left the team as well, and was replaced by Mike Stapleton and Nick Warriner.

The Greyhounds missed the OHL Playoffs that season for the first time since 2004 and were the worst team in the league, finishing with a record of 19-45-2-2.  Livingston though, had a solid season as he registered 37 points on 20 goals and 17 assists in 66 games played to go along with 98 penalty minutes.

Named an alternate captain for the 2009-10 season as the result of being a solid and reliable two-way player who put his team first, Livingston entered the season with aspirations of earning a professional contract with the Blues and to help lead the Greyhounds to a successful season.

Despite being a fan favorite and a team leader, higher-ups in the Greyhounds organization felt Livingston had failed to reach the expectatons they envisioned for him when they drafted him fifth overall in the 2006 OHL Priority Selection due to Livingston not playing in an All-Star game and only scoring 43 goals in three seasons.

After an early season game in Peterborough, coach Lambert, along with Ferris, had a serious conversation with Livingston that Livingston described as “tough love” and was presented with two simple points to follow in order to take his game up a level:  Control the area six feet from the boards and in on his side of the ice, and always go to the net hard in the offensive zone.

“I’ve been giving him a lot of attention because he’s capable of doing more,” said coach Lambert in an interview with Ruicci for a 2009 Sault Star article.  “At times last season, he tired to be too cute.  But when he simplifies his game, when he plays like a power forward, driving the net, looking for rebounds, being strong on the puck and cycling out of the corner, he scores more.”

Always looking to improve all aspects of his game and wanting to score 30 goals in his fourth OHL season, Livingston implemented the advice into his game and registered 26 points on 14 goals and 12 assists to go along with 47 penalty minutes in 36 games played before being traded at the trade deadline to the Whalers for 18-year-old forward Myles McCauley.

“He is a power forward that plays hard at both ends of the ice and will contribute offensively for us,” said Whalers Associate Coach Joe Stefan of Livingston in an interview with Pete Krupsky for a 2010 Whales Tales article. 

In 24 games played with the Whalers following the trade, Livingston registered nine points on three goals and six assists to go along with 57 penalty minutes.  In the Whalers nine playoff games, Livingston registered two points on one goal and an assist to go along with six penalty minutes.

That off-season, Livingston was informed by the Blues organization he wasn’t being signed to a professional contract and was now a free agent.

“It was discouraging not to be singed by St. Louis,” said Livingston in an interview with Krupsky for a March 15 Whales Tales article.  “But I know I didn’t have the type of year I needed last season to be signed so it wasn’t a huge surprise.”

That summer, Livingston attended the Edmonton Oilers 2010 Rookie Development Camp and was invited to their main Training Camp on Sept. 17.  On Sept. 20, Livingston was released from Oilers Camp and assigned to the camp of the Oilers’ American Hockey League {AHL} affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, on a tryout basis.

After being released from his tryout with the Barons, Livingston returned to the Whalers for the 2010-11 season as an OHL overager and determined to make an NHL team take notice of him.  Serving as an alternate captain for the Whalers, Livingston registered career highs in points {50}, goals {22} and assists {28} to go along with a career low 52 penalty minutes in 62 regular season games played.  In the Whalers 11 playoff games, Livingston registered five points on four goals and one assist to go along with eight penalty minutes.

“I worked hard last summer and I wanted to play as hard as I could,” said Livingston in Krupsky’s March article.  “And I didn’t feel the pressure I did the year before.  I’ve just tried to go to the net hard, keep my feet moving and keep working.”

Livingston’s hard work was rewarded in March when the Sharks asked for a meeting with Ferris and shortly thereafter, signed Livingston to a tw0-way {NHL/AHL}, three-year, entry-level contract.

“I’m thrilled,” said Livingston in Krupsky’s March article.  “When you keep working at it, good things happen.  I’m extremely excited and now I’m another step closer to my dream, which is to play in the NHL.”

HIGHLIGHTS

James Livingston 2008 NHL Entry Draft Scouting Profile  {Courtesy of YouTube user “NHLVideo”}

James Livingston at St. Louis Blues 2009 Rookie Camp  {Courtesy of YouTube user “djm448”}
In this video clip, Livingston lights the lamp in a scrimmage at the St. Louis Blues’ 2009 Rookie Development Camp held at the IceZone inside the St. Louis Mills Mall.

James Livingston scores against Guelph Storm  {Courtesy of YouTube user “GuelphStormVideo”}
In this video clip, Livingston scores a goal in a Nov. 30, 2008, game against the Guelph Storm.  Livingston’s goal begins at the 0:58 mark of the video clip.

James Livingston vs. Chris Chappell  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Livingston scraps with Chappell of the Saginaw Spirit in a Jan. 25, 2009, game.

James Livingston vs. Kyle Flemington  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Livingston scraps with Flemington of the Sarnia Sting in a Feb. 13, 2010 game.

James Livingston scores against Saginaw Spirit  {Courtesy of YouTube user “SpiritVideoClip”}
In this video clip, Livingston scores the game tying goal against the Sting in a Jan. 17, 2011 game.  The Whalers went on to win the game, 4-3, and Livingston’s goal beings at the 2:35 mark of the video clip.

James Livingston scores against Saginaw Spirit  {Courtesy of YouTube user “SpiritVideoClip”}
In this video clip, Livingston scores on a laser of a shot against the Sting in a March 1, 2011 game.  The goal tied the game at 1-1 and the Whalers went on to win the game 4-1.  Livingston’s goal starts at the 0:25 mark of the video clip.

James Livingston scores against Saginaw Spirit  {Courtesy of YouTube user “SpiritVideoClip”}
In this video clip, Livingston scores a goal to help rally the Whalers from a 4-1 deficit in a March 4, 2011, game against the Spirit.  Despite battling back to tie the game at 4-4 in the third period, the Whalers would surrender a goal in the final minutes of the game for a heartbreaking 5-4 loss.  Livingston’s goal begins at the 2:30 mark of the video clip.

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, blog.mlive.com/whaletales, www.hockeydb.com, www.hockeysfuture.com, www.wikipedia.com, www.saultstar.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

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About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on August 9, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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