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Hart not feeling pressure ahead of 2016 NHL Draft

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

Carter Hart’s approach to the 2016 NHL Draft isn’t any different from his approach with his goaltending duties for the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips.

Stay cool. Stay calm.

Hart has taken a collected approach.

“I’ve just got to worry about getting better every day,” Hart said. “You don’t stay the same. You either get better or you get worse. You’ve got to take things one day at a time and worry about getting better. That’s about it.

“I’m patient. Just working hard and getting better every day. That’s how you have to approach it.

“The toughest thing is just not getting caught up in your year, and just living in the moment and taking things one day at a time. That’s the best way to approach it.”

It’s not just lip-service.

His strategy has worked.

Hart finished the regular season with a 35-23-1-3 record with six shutouts in 63 appearances. The 17-year-old finished second among WHL goalies with a 2.14 GAA, the sixth-best save percentage at .918, and placed first overall in wins.

He posted a .929 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA in six playoff games too, in his second season of major junior action.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound puck stopper earned the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as Western Hockey League goaltender of the year in early May, and capped off his season by being named the Canadian Hockey League’s Vaughn Goaltender of the Year later in the month.

The Sherwood Park, AB native is second among North American goaltenders in Central Scouting’s final ranking for the draft, trailing only Evan Fitzpatrick of the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

He wouldn’t be disappointed with being the first goaltender taken off the board at the draft, slated for June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.

“Obviously that would be really cool, something special. I’m just hoping to get drafted.”

A lot pressure, right?

Wrong.

“Obviously there’s a little bit of pressure with your draft year, but you can’t let that sink in,” said Hart, who also helped Canada to gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last August. “You’ve got to worry about just getting better and playing your game and taking things one day at a time.”

The unflappable teenager took a similar approach to the NHL Draft Combine, ending Saturday at Harbor Center in Buffalo.

Hart was in the top 25 in six physical conditioning categories at the combine, including a second-place finish in the VO2max, and a third-place finish with 12 pull-ups.

That calm and cool approach. Again.

“I think it’s just something that my dad’s taught me growing up,” said Hart, who has been invited to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Goaltending Camp at June 9-12 at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

“Leaving home as a 15-year-old, you have to mature up quick and grow up. I think playing in Everett and having our organization like that supporting you has really helped me to mature and to grow up into a young man.”

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