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NHL Draft

2020 Draft: Ford hoping versatility, physical game boosts profile

Providence College forward eyes next level after going undrafted in 2019

by Dave Hogg / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Every Thursday, NHL.com will look ahead to the 2020 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Parker Ford is busy focusing on the present, one that has the 19-year-old forward back in Providence College after playing for the United States at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.

Though Ford was the only undrafted player at USA Hockey selection camp in December that determined the United States roster for the WJC, he did not concern himself with what might happen when he gets a second chance at the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal on June 26-27.

"It's really cool to represent your country," Ford said at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. "I want to make the team and then I want us to win. That's what I'm worrying about right now and then I'll go back to school.

"I'm not really thinking about the draft right now."

Ford was held without a point, had two penalty minutes and was minus-1 in five games for the United States, which lost 1-0 to Finland in the quarterfinals. The freshman scored a power-play goal in his first game with Providence after the tournament, a 2-2 tie with Cornell on Jan. 4, and has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 18 games this season.

"I didn't really know Parker, but I thought he brought a lot of energy and I thought he played with a high compete level," United States coach Scott Sandelin said in Plymouth. "We had him on wing, but he's played center at Providence, so he has some versatility.

"He's playing on a top line at Providence that is doing pretty well and he's a part of that. I think the first half of his season, along with (the World Junior Summer Showcase) earned him the right to be here."

Hockey isn't a hobby for Ford. He wants to play at the highest level of the game, and he's doing whatever he can to raise his skills to that level. Ford played mostly at wing in two seasons for Sioux City of the United States Hockey League, where he had 65 points (27 goals, 38 assists) in 107 games.

Ford moved to center at Providence, a solid addition to his resume because it gives a coach the flexibility to write him into the lineup at center or wing.

"Growing up, I played both center and wing, so I'm pretty comfortable with both," Ford said. "Right now, I'm slotted in as a center, but it is huge for any player to be versatile. I think I'm strong on draws, which means if I'm playing wing and the center gets kicked out, I can jump in. I think that's important."

Ford has also improved the physical side of his game, developing what he agreed is a feisty side to go with his 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame.

"Yeah, 100 percent," he said. "To be honest, I think you need some kind of advantage as a smaller player and for me, that's working hard, playing the body and just trying to separate myself with my strength."

Unlike United States teammates Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) and Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks), Ford knows he'll never be a player who puts up massive scoring numbers. His NHL career will depend on becoming the type of forward nobody wants to play against, but who everyone wants on their team.

"I believe in my game and I think I've earned a chance," Ford said. "I'm going to do everything in my power to make it."

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