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Hurricanes' 2017 Draft Class Arrives in Raleigh

Newest members of the organization learning what it takes to become a pro

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / Carolina Hurricanes News Release

Less than a week ago, eight hockey-playing teenagers stepped closer to realizing their dreams of competing in the National Hockey League when the Carolina Hurricanes called their names in the selection process of the 2017 NHL Draft.

This week, they're discovering exactly what that dream is all about.

The Canes' annual Prospects Development Camp gives these eight newest members of the organization plus 21 other prospects and invitees a glimpse of life as a professional hockey player - and not just that, but also what's expected as a Carolina Hurricane.

"It's good preparation," second-year camp attendee Julien Gauthier said. "You can see the pace of practices are pretty high. You know what to expect at main camp because it's going to be even harder with better players, so just work hard and focus."

"I think it's special. I enjoy working with them," assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "For us, it's getting to know them, too. A lot of them are new faces and we don't know much about them."

A team dinner on Tuesday night set the table for the remainder of the week, which is packed with on- and off-ice instruction.

Off the ice, the prospects undergo a number of strength and conditioning tests before learning about nutrition, cooking, leadership, social media and more.

On the ice, it's a crash course in the Hurricanes' systems and style of play. For the prospects, it's a chance to absorb as much as they can and get back on the frozen sheet in the middle of the summer before training ramps up heading toward September. For the Canes' coaching staff and front office, it's an opportunity to assess these players' skills firsthand.

Video: Prospects hit the ice for the first time this week

"There are a lot of strong prospects coming in. You can tell from the practice out there," defenseman Brendan De Jong said. "It was high-paced. There are a lot of good players here."

"You always want to go out there and be noticed," forward Morgan Geekie said. "Everyone is a good player here. Everybody knows that. We're here for a reason. It's just kind of going out and doing your own thing. That's the biggest key."

It's an informational week, yes, and perhaps an overwhelming one at times, too, especially for the new crew.

"I think it probably is," Brind'Amour said. "You take it for granted that some of these guys are just 17 or 18, and they come into a locker room like this."

That's where players like Gauthier can offer assistance. Now in his second year at Prospects Development Camp, Gauthier knows what to expect and can provide some advice to first-year attendees.

"The first year you're nervous and don't know what to expect. This year I know what's going on, try to enjoy the experience and work hard," he said. "I told them just to not be nervous. It's always nerve-racking because you don't know what to expect, but we're not here for a long time, so try to make the most out of it."

Making the most of four short days on and off the ice is paramount, especially for the eight just-drafted players. Having taken an important step toward the NHL in being drafted, they will now understand how to prepare and work toward that ultimate goal.

"It's important to be better every day and work hard in the gym and on the ice," 12th overall pick Martin Necas said. "I want to enjoy every single day and every training on the ice. That's important. Hockey is fun. It's great to be here, be on the ice and be in this locker room."

Once the Canes' 2017 draft class and other prospects scatter about the globe again come Saturday, the hope is that they take with them knowledge of what it takes to reach that next step. Nothing is given or guaranteed; it's earned through hard work and commitment to becoming a pro, to becoming a Carolina Hurricane.

"It's my first kick at the can at something like this, so it's definitely exciting," Geekie said. "It's been a good learning experience so far, and hopefully we can carry that for the rest of the week."

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