RALEIGH, N.C. -- David Cotton is hoping another season of college hockey will move him a step closer to an NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 22-year-old center, selected by the Hurricanes in the sixth round (No. 169) of the 2015 NHL Draft, led Boston College last season as a junior with 36 points in 39 games and tied for second among NCAA players with 23 goals.
Cotton, who is Boston College's captain, did not seek a contract offer from Carolina after his junior season.
"They respected the decision," he said during Hurricanes development camp in June. "There's no pressure. I still need to develop physically, and college is a good place for that. They're not in any rush to get me in the system right now. They've really been more supportive than pressuring on me."
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Collegiate hockey has allowed Cotton (6-foot-3, 189 pounds) to develop on and off the ice.
"David's skating, strength and consistency have all improved over the course of his three years at B.C.," Boston College assistant Marty McInnis said. "His ability to hold defenders off and control the puck in the offensive zone has made him a difficult matchup for defenders. He's also turned into a player that's not afraid of the dirty areas in front of the other team's net, where he has great stick and is a terrific finisher."
Cotton completed his fourth development camp with Carolina and doesn't allow himself to take any part of it for granted.
"I just see where I am from the year before, try to improve on myself, my fitness," he said. "Get to know the coaches on a more personal level and ask questions. Not everyone gets this opportunity, so I'm trying to soak it all in."
That's why Cotton, a native of Parker, Texas, said he is not in a hurry to climb to the professional ranks. His preference is to develop at his own pace.
"A lot of it was, am I ready for this?" he said. "We have had three mediocre years at B.C., and it's a school and an institution built on success. Going into my freshman year, I wanted to add to that and it hasn't come. Having this opportunity, especially to be a captain, is a big part of my decision."
If Cotton eventually plays in the NHL, his game might be in the mold of a former Boston College player.
"He reminds me a lot of (Philadelphia Flyers center) Kevin Hayes, who played four years at B.C.," said McInnis, who played three seasons there before a 12-season NHL career with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Boston Bruins. "David is tall and skilled with a high IQ, which should make his transition easier."