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The defenceman reflects on being selected fifth overall in 2015

by ALEX MEDINA @alex_medina5 /

What do you remember most from your draft journey?

It was a special day. I didn't know what was going to happen and that's was a fun part of the draft, not knowing where I was going to end up and what city I was going to call home. It was a fun experience overall, there were a lot of nerves going through as I sat there with my family and I'll always remember sharing that moment with them because it was a big day for them too.

Was there anyone who you leaned on during your draft process?

My parents had a huge role in getting me where I am now. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here or be the person I am. They were always so supportive and encouraging and whenever I needed to talk about anything, they would drop what they were doing to be there for me. My brother and sister also helped me a lot, we always support each other and want the best for one another and they definitely made me feel more at ease. 

Was there any advice given to you before the draft?

The best advice I got was that you don't have much control once draft day comes; it's out of your hands. It was important to only worry about what I could control and for me that was making sure I was putting in 100% effort on and off the ice. The more I focused on my game and getting better each day, the better I played and more confident I got in my skill set. 

What was it like having pre-draft interviews with several teams?

It was one of the cooler parts of the experience. I had scouts watching me all year to see what player I am and what I could bring to their team. I had a lot of great conversations especially when they were just trying to get to know my personality and the person I am. It was a little nerve wracking at first because there were quite a few teams that wanted to talk to me but then once I realized it felt like a causal conversation, I settled in and got more comfortable.

How did it feel when you heard your name called and walked up on the stage?

It was an unbelievable moment that will always stick with me. I remember hugging my family and walking up there on stage to shake hands and put the jersey on. After that, it was a crazy experience because I didn't see my family two hours later with all the interviews and photos I had to do as part of the draft process. It made it feel more real, it's not every day you get to do that and made the whole day more unique.

How was the transition from draft day to development camp to finally main camp?

It was a quick turnaround, I got to celebrate a bit and then it was go time because camp was one week after the draft. It was tough for sure, it's a big competition with a lot of other guys looking to leave their mark and after I signed my entry level contract, there was extra pressure that I put on myself to impress and make the NHL. I learned and grew a lot in my first year, I remember meeting a lot of the main guys once main camp rolled along including Nathan Gerbe who I ended up living with. He was a hard working guy and showed me a lot on what it takes to be a pro and brought me under his wing.

If you could go back in time what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself to not get too hyped up, to stay calm and trust that it'll all work out in the end. Being drafted is a great accomplishment but it's just the beginning of everything that's to come. It doesn't matter what round you are selected, what matters is that the team who picked you wanted you and to remember that nothing is given in this league. You have to earn making the roster and your minutes, things only get that much harder but it's an unbelievable journey.

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