Hurley taking long road to draft day
CALGARY, AB -- Connor Hurley has worn a lot of jerseys in his draft season.
The Edina Hornet, National Team Development Program and Muskegon Lumberjack is hoping to pull on one more before he calls it a season.
One that belongs to a National Hockey League franchise.
The 2013 NHL Draft's youngest player, Hurley has aspirations of pulling on one more jersey in New Jersey on June 30th.
"I might be nervous and sweating but I'm going to try to be as calm as I can and wait for my name to be called," he said. "Hopefully it is and hopefully it's in a good spot and a good team."
Ranked 45th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, Hurley won't have to wait long to realize his dream. In fact, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the 6-foot-1, 172-pound forward goes in the first round.
A dream come true, said Hurley.
"You always have expectations and that would be a dream to go first round. That'd be unbelievable," he said. "That's what I'm striving for but it depends. Just one team has to like you. I'm hoping one team does and picks me. If I don't get picked in the first round, that's totally fine and I'll be happy. That's my mindset going in there."
Hurley won't have to wait much longer to find out his fate after a lengthy season with plenty of stops along the way.The 17-year-old started his season with Team Southwest of the Midwest Elite League in September. A month later, he was invited to play with the US National Team Development Program in exhibition bouts against NCAA competition before joining the USHL's Lumberjacks for a pair of games in late October.
Following that, he returned to the NDTP and helped the team to gold at the Four Nations Cup and then returned to start Edina's season to chase down a state championship that had eluded him a year prior.
It was a tough, yet rewarding, season for the Eagan, MN product.
"It was kind of tough but teams I went to accepted me very well and brought me in and let me play my game and I just went with it," Hurley said. "Just getting used to all the styles of play that I had to fill, especially coming from Edina in a top guy role and going to the USA and being a third, fourth line guy and playing wing.
"It was kind of an adjustment but it helped me a lot and I'm glad it happened. I'm really thankful that I got to play with all those different teams."
After capturing the Minnesota State High School Boys Hockey Tournament in March, he again headed to Muskegon to close out his season.
An admittedly drained Hurley toughed out his second stint with the Lumberjacks to finish with eight points in 11 games.
"Going to the USHL after the season, emotionally drained after winning the state championship, it was an adjustment being consistent every game," he said. "I wasn't playing as much, but I just kept working and felt I played better at the end."
He did, however, keep enough in the gas tank to put up promising results at the NHL Scouting Combine. Hurley finished seventh in peak power output and fifth in push-ups.
Again, the process was a drain.
"I was really tired," Hurley said. "All the guys in my group that were going back and forth on the bus were just dead tired. The bus ride there, we were all nervous but after everyone was just chilling out."
But perhaps not as exhausting as his interview portion of the combine where the University of Notre Dame commit interviewed with 15 teams.
"Interviews, you just go throughout the whole day and just jump from team to team and repeat the same thing," he said. "It kind of gets tiring after a while and you have to try to sound unique in the late ones during the day."
Whether he was able to leave a strong enough impression, whether in interviews or with his on-ice play, to go among the top-30 picks in the draft remains to be seen.
Hurley's hoping for the right result - an opportunity.
"I'm just hoping for the best and not worrying about what team I'm going to be going to," he said. "I'm just going into the draft hoping for the best."
And an opportunity to pull on one final jersey this season.