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Bowman Gets an Early Start

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Even though he’ll have to leave in a few days to attend the 2009 NHL Prospects Tournament in Michigan, Drayson Bowman still didn’t mind coming to Raleigh a little early.

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The 20-year-old forward prospect arrived from his home in Colorado over the weekend and began participating in the Hurricanes’ informal practices at the RecZone on Monday.  He feels that a week of skating with NHL players will prepare him for next week’s rookie tournament, which he in turn hopes will have him in a groove when the Hurricanes’ training camp begins on September 13.

“You go there to show that you can be the best at the junior level, or whatever that would be considered,” he said. “It’s going to give us a big jump coming into [the NHL] camp. You should go there and hopefully stand out and then get some confidence.”

It’s often difficult for young players such as Bowman to stand out at crowded NHL training camps, which is why the Hurricanes’ participation in this year’s prospects tournament presents a great opportunity. Players like Bowman, Zach Boychuk and Jamie McBain will be able to shine in a way they may not have been able to in previous years among a group of about 50 other players at the NHL camp.

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That could prove to be very significant as a number of Carolina’s top prospects will be competing with each other throughout this season, not necessarily for jobs right out of the gate on a deep NHL roster, but for call-up consideration at various points in the year.

“(The Hurricanes) have got a lot of guys, but there’s nothing I can do about that,” said Bowman. “I’ve got to come in here and make it so they can’t say no. I’m pretty comfortable with how I play the game, and no matter where I end up I’ll make the most of my opportunity.”

Bowman had an outside chance to make the team at last season’s camp, but was ultimately returned to his junior team in Spokane of the Western Hockey League, where he went on to score 47 goals in just 62 games. While he admittedly wasn’t sure how much he had left to prove at the junior level, the Canes’ third-round pick in 2007 (72nd overall) now feels he benefited from the extra year.

“Going back I really learned a lot more than I even originally thought,” he said. “I became a more complete player and learned how to play the game better than I had before.”

A mid-season appearance for the United States at last year’s World Junior Championship helped to accelerate that process, as both of Bowman’s WHL Player of the Week awards and his CHL Player of the Week honor came in the second half.

“Before I was trying to slow the play down and make cute little plays, but you realize that doesn’t quite work at this level,” he said. “Coming back after the World Juniors I tried to speed things up and do everything faster and harder like the way they do it here, and it ended up working out for me.”

Bowman and the rest of the Hurricanes’ top prospects begin tournament play this Sunday at 3 p.m. against the New York Rangers’ rookie team.

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