Thursday, 27 June 2013

Two Pats Hope to Realize Draft Dreams

It’s something every kid lacing up a pair of skates dreams about.  Hearing their name called at the NHL Entry Draft.  For 210 draft eligible players, those dreams will become a reality this Sunday in New Jersey as the NHL holds its annual intake draft.  The 2013 class is headlined by the likes of Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones and Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon.  For the Regina Pats, two names found their way onto the Final Central Scouting Draft Rankings this season.  Morgan Klimchuk led the duo as the talented sniper from Calgary finished up 25th on the North American Skaters list.  Kyle Burroughs used a brilliant second half to rocket up the rankings to 133rd when the final list was revealed.

While the players involved try to keep the draft out of mind during the season to focus on the job at hand with the Pats, just a few days out from the big day, the nerves are starting to settle in.

“I definitely have some nerves, obviously there’s some excitement there as well,” admitted Burroughs as he looks towards Sunday.  It will be a long day for the 17-year old as if his name is called; it will likely be in the later stages of the draft.

The anxiety is a little different for Klimchuk as he will most likely hear his name called within the first two rounds.  The Calgary product found his way into the top 30 during TSN's Draft Rankings Show this week.

“The days are starting to get pretty long now, starting to get some nerves,” explained Klimchuk.  “We’re starting to see all the lists come out and people are starting to talk about the draft.  Not a whole lot has changed… I’ve talked to a couple of teams over the phone, but it’s been a pretty normal, stressful but laid-back week.”

While Morgan Klimchuk consistently hung around the same rankings range on the CSS lists this season, Kyle Burroughs was one of the big risers this year.  From the Mid-Term to the Final rankings, Burroughs leapt 73 spots (206 to 133) while tallying 26 of his 33 points in the second half of the season.

“I think I just stuck to the way I played,” said Burroughs of his jump in the rankings.  “Obviously I had a good second half of the year points-wise and I think the way I conducted myself on the ice and with the team in every game helped.”

When it comes to teams building their lists for the draft, the 2012-13 Charles Johnston Trophy winner (Pats Top Defenceman) feels his tenacity will be a key attribute NHL organizations look for.

“I’m not scared out there; I’ll go in the corner with anybody.  I can shut down the other team’s top line and contribute on the offensive side of things as well.”

Though he may be a touch biased, Burroughs’ teammate thinks there’s a strong possibility of an NHL team drafting the Langley, B.C. native.

“I think the chances are pretty high,” claimed Klimchuk.  “Kyle is a very good player, very smart defensive player and I think a lot of teams who watched him play, especially in the latter half of the season when he was playing a pretty big role would love to add that to their organization.  I think if they get to know Kyle as a player and as a person they’ll be very happy with the pick they make.”

With his standing in the CSS Rankings, Klimchuk had the opportunity to attend the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto this month.  There he went through rigorous physical testing and a busy interview schedule where teams try to get to get a feel for the players available in the draft.  While he wasn’t forthcoming with any names, the Pats second leading scorer felt he could sense which teams had more interest than others.

“Teams don’t really want to tip their hat to you… they don’t want to expose who they like or don’t like, but there were definitely a couple of teams stood out a little bit.  I guess my interviews went a little longer with them or were more intense.  Those teams would rather stay unnamed, but there were a couple that jumped out to me.”

Along with the combine, Klimchuk had the opportunity to attend mini-camps over the last couple weeks giving him some extra insight into the league he hopes to be a part of.

“Those teams take things very seriously from a fitness stand-point, from a character stand-point and everything like that.  To be able to go to a place like Buffalo and see their facility and everything NHL players do on a regular basis going into the season was pretty eye opening and a great experience.”

With a 76 point sophomore WHL season and two Gold Medals under his belt in 2012-13, it would be hard to say Klimchuk could do much more to improve his stock in New Jersey. Burroughs thinks that could lead to his teammate hearing his name called sooner rather than later.

“Hopefully he’s in the top twenty.  (Morgan) is a special player so I can see a team grabbing him real quick.”

Both players will be spending their time differently come Sunday.  Klimchuk will head to New Jersey with family this weekend hoping to step onto the draft stage to be welcomed to the NHL by his new organization and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.  Meanwhile, Burroughs will be taking it easy at home.

“I’m probably just going to spend time with friends and family, maybe hit the golf course early just to preoccupy my mind until it gets down to crunch-time.”

Klimchuk and Burroughs head into the draft in very different ways.  One a dangerously skilled forward, the other a heady defenceman… one a possible first round selection, the other a prospect of the later rounds… one will be in attendance in New Jersey while the other remains at home in British Columbia.

When all is said and done, though, both could be very similar in realizing a lifelong dream to hear their names among 210 others as the next crop of prospects to join the NHL.

(Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

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