Ladies and gentlemen, Miles Liberati.
He hails from a small town in Pennsylvania, he is a defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League, he was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the seventh round, 205th overall, at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, making him one of the newest members of the Canucks organization.
You may not know a lot about Liberati right now, but that will change over the next few years. In the meantime, we present to you 10 things you may or may not know about the man who played midget hockey for the Pittsburgh Viper Stars.
1 – Liberati was born on June 21, 1995, which makes him the youngest prospect in the Canucks organization.
2 – Liberati is 6-feet, 195-pounds. He shoots left and wore No. 68 at the Canucks Prospects Development Camp.
3 - Liberati hails from the small town of Cheswick, Pennsylvania, which has a population of 1,746.
“There are three little towns in a row and Cheswick is right in the middle of them,” said Liberati. “It’s really small, maybe only a couple miles long. There isn’t a whole lot to do, a lot of fishing, hunting and hockey. That’s about it.”
4 - Liberati became the first player drafted into the NHL from Cheswick when the Canucks selected him in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s pretty cool. The whole town and my old high school were really excited. Everyone was like ‘we are all Canucks fans now!’”
5 - After being selected in the third round, 55th overall, by the London Knights in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection, Liberati attended the Hill Academy, a hockey academy in the Toronto Area.
“I was there for the 2011/12 season. It was fun; the school was actually in the ice rink so we were at the rink all day, every day. Working out was actually one of the classes and we got graded on it. We worked out every day and skated every day.”
6 - Liberati played on a very deep Knights team this past season, his first season in the OHL. With a defense core that included the likes of 2012 first-rounder Olli Maatta, 2013 first-rounder Nikita Zadorov, Team Canada World Junior team assistant captain Scott Harrington, along with veterans Tyler Ferry and Justin Sefton, playing time was hard to come by.
“It (being scratched) was hard. When I wouldn’t play they had us skate before the games and they would skate us pretty hard to keep us in shape. I just tried to stay positive when I got in the lineup and make the most of it.”
7 - Liberati is an offensive minded defenseman. He skates very well, which allows him to rush the puck up the ice and create offense. He bases his playing style off future NHL Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom and LA Kings blueliner Drew Doughty.
“One of the biggest parts of my game is my offense. I like to rush the puck and make plays up the ice in the offensive zone. I like to jump into the rush.”
8 - Speaking of Doughty, during the NHL labor dispute earlier in the season, the NHL star skated with the Knights to keep in shape. Liberati soaked in everything he could from the Olympic gold medalist.
“At the time he (Doughty) was there I wasn’t playing very much, so he actually was my partner in practice. He showed me all kinds of different stuff he does and it really helped me out.”
9 - Doing whatever it took to get into the lineup, Liberati played a few games as a forward for the Knights this past season.
“I played forward for half a year a couple seasons ago, so I knew a little bit about it. It was different, but it was a lot less stressful, to me, then defense is. You’re just trying to score and if the puck goes out you know there are two defensemen back there.”
10 - Liberati and the Knights won the OHL Championship and earned a berth into the Memorial Cup for the second consecutive season, the first for Liberati. The Knights will make it three Memorial Cup apperances in a row next year as they will host the 2014 edition of the prestigious junior tournament.
“That was awesome. So many people there and everyone knew who we were. We have it again this year in London and I am pretty excited for that, hopefully we can win it all next year.”