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Isles Draft Day Experience

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

Only a handful of hockey players actually know what it feels like to hear their name get called and walk across the stage at the NHL Draft. If you’re anxious and excited watching it at home, just imagine how it must feel to be there. 

Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Ryan Pulock know the feeling, as the three Islanders were once promising junior prospects and first-round picks. They shared their experiences of draft night. It starts with a little anxiousness, a lot of waiting and ends as one of the best days of your hockey life.

RYAN PULOCK:

It’s a little nerve-wracking, but it’s a special day. It’s marked on your calendar for pretty much the whole season and you’re looking forward to it. You kind of know what’s going to happen, but you have no idea where or when. 

RYAN STROME:

[You’re] pretty nervous, more or less just unsure of what’s going to happen. The rest of it is a pretty enjoyable experience. It’s a huge thrill and a big honor, but just the uncertainly is tough. Where you’re going to live for at least part of your life is up to other people and you have no idea what they are going to decide. I guess that’s part of the fun. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but definitely a good day. 

BROCK NELSON:

So many different variables go into it. A couple of minutes here or there, earlier or later, your whole future changes dramatically. 

RYAN PULOCK:

It’s totally different if you’re playing in New York or you’re playing in Florida or Winnipeg. It’s completely different situation. That day is decided where you’re going to spend hopefully a good part of your career. That part of it is so nervous, just waiting to see what’s going to happen, but very exciting after.

BROCK NELSON:

It’s so out of your control you kind of just try to take it all in and enjoy it. It’s a pretty cool experience and then guys start getting picked and it starts getting later and later, you feel some more build up and then obviously just pure happiness when you hear your name. You hug your family, make your way down there and meet the staff. 

RYAN PULOCK:

When your name is called it’s one of the best days of your life.


RYAN STROME:

It’s obviously very rewarding. A lot of hard work paid off and obviously a childhood dream. Definitely a great moment and pretty special to share it with family and certainly a moment you’re never going to forget. Probably one of the biggest milestones you’ll have as a person and a hockey player for sure. 

BROCK NELSON:

It’s special [to walk across the stage]. Not a lot of kids get that opportunity. At the time you’re so happy, you come from a small town and to have that chance, opportunity on a big stage. It’s a little scary meeting with all the top guys from the organization and seeing all of them up there dressed in suits, it’s a little scary, but obviously the first step in a positive direction. 

RYAN PULOCK:

Honestly I hardly remember [being on stage]. Your emotions are in all different directions and you’re just so happy and thankful to be up there. It’s just so exciting. I hardly remember even going up there.

RYAN STROME:

It’s crazy just to see how young you look and how nervous you are. There are so many emotions that go into it and to see the pictures after, the excitement and it’s a pretty neat thing to have, I have it hanging in my house – my draft picture, my draft jersey are both in a frame. It’s something I’ll have forever and a snapshot of a lot of hard work and emotion.

BROCK NELSON:

You go down, shake hands, get your jersey and then they kind of steal you away. You don’t see your family for I don’t know how long, but we’re down underneath he stands, running around taking pictures, signing a couple of things. The whole day is slow until that moment and then all of the sudden it flies by and you’re all over the place. You kind of forget about time because you’re so in the moment, so happy. 

RYAN STROME:

Johnny (Tavares) called me. It was kind of cool knowing him on a personal level and as a potential future teammate was pretty neat. For him to reach out like that means a lot. He makes you feel comfortable and welcome and it’s a pretty rewarding feeling when someone of that magnitude gives you a call, especially when you’re a young guy and he’s someone you look up to. 

BROCK NELSON:

I believe it was Kyle (Okposo) who called and congratulated me. The Minnesota connection helped out. 

RYAN STROME:

I really didn’t have too, too much indication [I would be picked by the Islanders]. I had met them and I figured they were interested, but until your name is called you don’t really know for sure and I was just excited when I was called and happy to be an Islander – a team that was on the radar for me – and it’s been great ever since.

RYAN PULOCK:

I knew I was in their range. My dad being a huge Islander fan he was hoping that’s where it would be. 

BROCK NELSON:

I had no idea really. The only little indicator that we had was that Trent Klatt was a big supporter of mine. He came up to my house before for a meet and greet and he went up on stage, but I didn’t really have any idea of where I was going to go or who was going to take me. 

It was a pretty wild day obviously, a lot of excitement. At the time you didn’t really realize but it kind of flew by. You look back and it feels like it was just yesterday, obviously you remember it pretty vividly.

RYAN STROME:

It was a pretty big whirlwind. Five years ago, but it feels like it was just yesterday. 


MORE DRAFT COVERAGE:
Future Isles? Potential Picks
Top-10 North American Skaters
Top-10 European Skaters
Family Affair: Brent and Tage Thompson

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