's path to Prospects Development Camp has been a bit more unconventional than most prospects in the Carolina Hurricanes' system. Nedeljkovic was drafted 37th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, attended his first training camp and played in his first NHL preseason games all before attending his first development camp.
On Wednesday, he joined 26 prospects and invitees for their first day of development camp and got an up-close look at what it takes to be a professional hockey player – from cooking preparation to learning systems and studying video.
“It’s been pretty intense. Practice was pretty high paced, it was a mid-season practice. Workouts this morning were pretty intense as well,” he said. “We did a lot of different things. It’s been a long and busy day, but it’s been good, been educational.”
After soaking in day one of Prospects Development Camp, Nedeljkovic said that he is looking to make the most of his first experience at camp.
“You want to take as much as you can back with you to help you get ready for the next level,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to retain all of it, but whatever you can take back with you and improve on the rest of the summer is huge.”
Nedeljkovic said that the thing he is looking forward to most this week is just being on the ice and skating with the guys that he will be playing alongside down the road.
“You’ve got guys from major juniors, college and pro leagues from overseas so you get to play with a lot of different guys and meet a lot of new people,” he said.
Nedeljkovic has developed relationships with several camp attendees through his time playing in the Ontario Hockey League – including Roland McKeown, Alex Peters and teammate Josh Wesley.
“It definitely helps to know some guys around,” he said. “It eases you into it a little bit.”
He said that Wesley has given him a hard time the past couple of summers for missing camp. Nedeljkovic missed the two previous development camps due to injury.
“He’s been calling me a rookie here on the first day since this is my first time,” Nedeljkovic said.
Nedeljkovic has had a busy year tending goal in the OHL and for Team USA, but hopes to take what he learned from those experiences and make the jump to his first professional season. He admitted that playing that much hockey was tiring, but it was also a lot of fun.
“Going to play overseas is always a good experience. You get to play on the bigger ice and you get to play against the best guys in the world,” he said. “Being able to win a medal there always makes it that much better, and being able to go deep into the playoffs in the OHL this year was definitely a learning experience.”
He was a central piece in the Niagara’s playoff push as well as Team USA’s bronze medal run during the World Junior Championship.
“Those two things taught me to reinforce the mindset of taking it one game at a time, taking it one day at a time,” he said. “You can’t worry about what happens tomorrow or what happened yesterday, you’ve got to focus on the task at hand.”
For the next few days, Nedeljkovic’s task at hand will center on development camp and being on the ice in Raleigh. After camp he will head back to Michigan and continue training throughout the summer.
“Obviously it would be huge to play in Charlotte and to maybe have the opportunity to get called up to Carolina would be amazing,” Nedeljkovic said. “Right now, it’s just focusing on off-ice, building strength and getting conditioned for the season.”
is the Marketing Coordinator for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email