Where were you when you heard about the trade?
I just got off the ice, actually. We were in our vans coming back from (Belle) Sensplex (the Ottawa Senators practice facility) and (Senators' Director of Player Development and Hockey Administration) Randy Lee was sitting there waiting for me.
What was your reaction to the news?
I was in shock. I didn’t believe it at first. I thought ‘No, no way.’ Didn’t think I could be part of such a big trade. Like I said, I was shocked, and I’m excited now.
What was it like to play with Rickard Rakell in Plymouth of the OHL?
We played together for three-and-a-half years. It’s kind of nice to come in here and be with someone that you know. He was fantastic. He was probably one of our top players, for sure. He’s a skilled guy, and he can also do some pretty fancy things with the puck too, so it’s always fun to play with him.
Have you heard the story about how the Ducks wanted to draft you three years ago?
Yeah. Actually, right after the draft happened, my agent told me about that. I thought it was kind of funny. Even Bob (Murray) told me that yesterday on the phone, he said ‘Yeah, we missed you at the draft by one pick.’ It’s funny how these things work out in the end.
Growing up in Texas, how did you first get into hockey?
I can’t really recall exactly how, I just know that, from stories being passed down by my family, my great grandfather really got me into it. I would watch hockey highlights and mess around in the living room, get the motions of backwards skating. I think he wanted someone in the family to become a hockey player and live on with his legacy.
What are the reactions when people find out you’re from Texas and a professional hockey player?
I was sitting in the airport yesterday, and someone asked me where I was from, and I said Texas. They said ‘You play hockey in Texas?” [Laughs] I get that reaction all the time, but it’s growing down there.
What do you need to do during camp to improve?
I just need to play my game. If I get an opportunity, I have to make the most of it, but first and foremost, I need to work on my training. I know what I need to do to get better and move to the next level, so that’s what I’ll take from this camp. I’ll talk to trainers, get into the organization and hopefully we can get a plan together so I could hopefully push for a spot next year.
You’ve been described as a power forward. What type of role does that physical style play in your game?
It’s always been part of my game. I thrive off the physical presence of the games. In my meetings with these guys (the Ducks’ staff) during my draft combine three years ago, that’s one thing they really liked about me and that’s one thing I’ve continued to do. I definitely won’t shy away from the physical aspect of the game, but I have to get bigger so I can lessen my chance of injury.