Although one’s first big-league experience can be awkward for several reasons, Drayson Bowman
continues to come into his own.
The 21-year-old played in his first nine NHL games last season after making his professional debut with Albany earlier in the year. While he underwent an adjustment period from big-time junior scorer (89 goals over his last two seasons with Spokane of the WHL) to third-line duty with the Hurricanes, he seemed to be reaching his comfort zone by the end of the year – a process that is still ongoing.
“Coming into camp from junior, there’s a little nervousness from being around the veteran guys,” said Bowman, who scored his first two NHL goals against Tampa Bay on April 6. “There’s none of that this year, and I’m very comfortable with my place in the organization.”
Although the third-round draft pick has aimed to make the Hurricanes’ team ever since his first training camp in 2007, Bowman added that his experience from last season, along with an increased fitness level that came from working hard over the summer (he estimates having lost 15 pounds), has him feeling much more confident this time around.
“Hopefully I’m just that one step quicker,” he said. “I know I’ve only been (at the informal skates) for two days, but I feel really good out there.”
In addition to his strong finish with the Hurricanes, he also turned in a good playoff performance for Albany, racking up nine points in eight games.
While Bowman has his eyes set on an open NHL roster spot on the wing, he isn’t the only one. Among others, Chris Terry, who was in the same draft class as Bowman, is hoping to be in the mix.
Terry finished his first full professional season as Albany’s second-ranked scorer with 17 goals and 47 total points over 80 games. Much of that production came in the latter stage of the year, as he posted an impressive 19 points in his final 21 contests before adding six points in eight playoff games.
That level of production came faster than most in the Hurricanes’ organization had expected from the fifth-round pick, indicating that the player is a quick study.
“I think last year I became a lot more responsible defensively,” said Terry, who scored 289 points in four years of junior hockey with Plymouth (OHL). “That was always kind of the knock on me, but I think I’ve become a good two-way forward.”
Terry’s progress, which he attributed to finding a balance between his offensive and defensive responsibilities, as well as gaining comfort with the coaching staff and longtime linemate Nick Dodge, vaulted him into the discussion for a late-season recall from Albany. However, with so many other candidates, his turn ultimately never came.
“It crossed my mind, but I just tried to keep working,” said Terry, who won league-wide recognition for philanthropy and leadership in his final year with Plymouth. “I didn’t let it drag on me, and I’m just trying to keep improving so I can get that call.”
Now a year older at 21, this could very well be the year that he makes his NHL debut.