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Joshua Norris of Sharks in mold of San Jose veteran Logan Couture

Center prospect's athleticism could propel him to NHL

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Soon after the San Jose Sharks drafted center Joshua Norris with the No. 19 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, his skill set -- physical and mental -- was compared to that of Sharks center Logan Couture.

Norris, 18, worked his way up the draft board with a spectacular performance at the NHL Scouting Combine, where he ranked first in five of the 14 fitness tests, including the vertical jump, standing long jump and shuttle run.

"I think you definitely have to push yourself in the weight room," said Norris (6-foot, 189 pounds). "I feel like that's a big reason why I am so athletic. A lot of legs, a lot of core. Not the most fun stuff, but definitely the things you need to be a hockey player."

Norris said he can dunk a basketball pretty easily and shoots in the low 80s in golf. He played shortstop on baseball travel teams during summers in Michigan until he was 13.

"I was pretty good," Norris said. "I wore No. 2 and I thought I was Derek Jeter. I probably could have kept playing, maybe college. I don't know. But hockey was my No. 1, and I had to give it up."

Norris showed off his speed and skill during Sharks development camp. San Jose Barracuda coach Roy Sommer described Norris as real smooth on the ice.

"One of those guys when they're first skating around, the first five minutes, you go, 'He can move,' " Sommer said. "And a lot of guys are like that, and then you put a puck on their stick and they slow down, but he skates the same way with a puck that he does without a puck. You can just tell he's like kind of above everyone else with his skill level."

Video: Joshua Norris on joining the Sharks, lucky troll

Norris, who will be a freshman at the University of Michigan, said he prides himself on being a competitive, versatile, two-way player, much like Couture.

"I play all three zones," Norris said. "I play with a lot of speed, a lot of skill. I think I can give you a little bit of everything, in a power play, penalty kill, faceoffs, and I chip in offensively."

Norris, the son of former NHL forward Dwayne Norris, has been preparing for this most of his life. When he was born on May 5, 1999 in Oxford, Michigan, his father, who played for Canada at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics and in 20 NHL games for the Quebec Nordiques and Anaheim Ducks, had just finished his third of seven seasons with Cologne of the German League. Dwayne went on to play four seasons for Frankfurt, then served three years as its general manager.

Joshua spent most of his first 11 years living in Germany and learning about pro hockey.

"Obviously I spent a lot of time around him and his teammates in the locker room and things like that when I was little," said Norris, who speaks fluent German. "Just kind of getting that feel of the pro lifestyle and what it's all about. But for me, I think he just taught me how to work and how to be a leader and how to be respectful, listening to older guys, kind of what they have to say, because they've been there before you have."

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