Heavy lifting done for draft eligibles
TORONTO, ON -- The heavy lifting is over, but the work isn’t done for members of the 2014 NHL Draft class.
With the NHL Scouting Combine drawing to a close Saturday, there are no further hurdles to clear for draft eligibles, but that doesn’t mean it is time to put the feet up and relax.
“I felt pretty good about (the combine),” said Spruce Grove Saints defenceman Brandon Hickey. “The testing was pretty hard but you train all year and work hard in the offseason to get ready for this moment. I think I did pretty well. I felt pretty good out there.
“I’m going to go home, have a little bit of a break.”
His little break? A 24-hour breather.
“I’ll probably start training again Monday,” the18-year-old said. “All the heavy stuff is done. All of this is done. I’m just going to focus on the offseason and not worry about the draft until draft day and then just have some fun with it.”
The games have been played. The interviews have been conducted. The fitness testing has been completed.
Now, admitted Shane Eiserman of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, is the time to enjoy the weeks leading up to the draft, set for June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia.
“Basically, now it’s over,” said Eiserman, Central Scouting's 45th ranked North American skater. “I’ve shown them what I can do during the season and now off the ice. Whatever happens, happens. I’m looking forward to it. Now, I’m finally going to be able to take a little break.
“Now I can relax, have summer. It feels good. Now it’s in there hands. I’ve done everything I could so I’m just going to relax, enjoy the summer and get ready for next year.”
Like Eiserman, most prospects already have a close eye on next season.
The draft, while a monumental achievement for the 17 and 18 year olds eligible, it’s a step and not a reason to pause.
“You’ve just got to keep doing what you’re doing, keep working out,” said Sonny Milano of the US National Team Development Program. “The season’s over now and this is the last step before the draft, but you have to keep getting better, keep doing what I’ve been doing my whole life.
“Anything could happen. I’m just looking forward to it.”
Conner Bleackley of the Red Deer Rebels echoed those thoughts.
Despite a few potential meetings on the horizon before graduating from high school, the 18-year-old High River, AB native is hoping to use the remaining 27 days before the draft to get in a few extra gym sessions and continue to build on the momentum he’s gained leading up-to and coming out of the combine.
“I think it’s going to be a good four weeks of training,” he said. “It might be a little more down, this week anyways. It’s really exciting leading up to the draft and graduating and all that stuff.
“It’ll be an exciting month, but there’s still work to do.”