SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks defenseman prospect Mario Ferraro never has to be told twice to join the rush.
So after hearing coaches at development camp emphasize the importance of defensemen helping out on the offensive end, San Jose's second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2017 NHL Draft knew what to do in the prospects scrimmage on July 6 at SAP Center.
"I definitely like to get involved offensively," the 18-year-old said. "I like to use my skating to my advantage and progress the puck up ice quick."
Ferraro showed off his skating skill and boundless energy during the scrimmage. A handful of times, he actually wound up with the puck below the opposing goal line after joining the rush.
"Just a ton of energy," said San Jose Barracuda coach Roy Sommer, who ran the development camp. "He plays with a lot of juice. A guy like that looks like he loves the game. I could see why they drafted him. I think he's going to be a good one. He's big and intense and a hockey rat."
Although Sommer, coach of the Sharks' American Hockey League affiliate, believes Ferraro will have to learn to play more under control, he said he'd rather have to "tame a tiger" than have to prod a player to become more aggressive.
Ferraro is built in the mold of the modern NHL defenseman. At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, he depends more on his skating speed and puck-moving skill than brawn.
"I've always relied on my skating quite a bit," Ferraro said. "When I was younger, all my life really, I've been an undersized defenseman, so I've had to have good skating ability to kind of escape those bigger players out there. Skating has always been a big part of my game. It's something that I work on a lot throughout the offseason, and during the season as well. I use my skating quite a bit. I like to get involved offensively, so to have a good transition game is important. That's what I focus on a lot."
However, Ferraro doesn't shy away from physical contact on the ice. Far from it.
"He plays in your face," Sommer said.
Ferraro ranked among the top 10 in six of the 14 fitness tests at the NHL Scouting Combine in June, including the bench press and left-hand grip.
"I like to be physical in there, get in the corners, use my body a little bit," Ferraro said. "Physicality's a big part of my game, and I like to bring that every night."
Ferraro grew up in Toronto and was a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but he said his favorite all-time NHL players are Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr.
"I really liked Bobby Orr when I was younger, but [among] current players, Drew Doughty," Ferraro said. "He's a good offensive defenseman, but he's also very physical and gritty. I like that part of his game. He's a player I've looked up to."
Ferraro had 41 points (eight goals, 33 assists) in 60 games last season for Des Moines of the United States Hockey League. He'll continue his hockey career this season as a freshman at the University of Massachusetts and already knows one area where he wants to get better.
"I'm looking to improve on my shot," he said. "I need to have a good, quick release from the point. Watching the NHL, a lot of goals are scored from the point. That's very important. And I want to work on knowing when and when not to go up in a play, choosing my spots a little bit better."