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My Draft Day: Vincent Trocheck

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

SUNRISE, Fla. - For Vincent Trocheck, the NHL Draft was a family affair.

With nearly enough aunts, uncles and cousins in attendance to field a hockey team of his own, Trocheck was selected by the Florida Panthers in the third round (64th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Since then, the 23-year-old has blossomed into one of the NHL's top young centers, making his first All-Star team and leading the Panthers with 54 points (23-31-54) in 82 games this past season. In 228 career games, Trocheck, who signed a six-year contract extension last summer, has already amassed 60 goals and 77 assists.

Of the 63 players selected before Trocheck in 2011, only nine currently have more career points. 

With the 2017 NHL Draft fast approaching, FloridaPanthers.com's Jameson Olive recently caught up with Trocheck to talk about the pre-draft process, sharing a big moment with family and, from his own personal experience, how having to wait an extra day to hear your name called doesn't actually mean that much.

FloridaPanthers.com: What do you remember most about your draft day?

TROCHECK: I think the biggest memory was just that I had my entire family with me; one of my best friends from growing up came as well. We were all just kind of enjoying the day and taking it all in.

FloridaPanthers.com: You were ranked 41st among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft. With that in mind, what was the earliest you thought you could potentially be drafted?

TROCHECK: I had talked to my agent at the time and we kind of went over it and thought that the early first round, late second round was kind of where they were thinking that I would go. I obviously didn't want to get my hopes up too much so I just kind of went into it with an open mind and didn't expect anything. After the first day, obviously you want to get picked in the first round, but after the first day it was a little bit of a let down. But I still enjoyed the day, congratulated all the guys that got drafted and had some fun. The next day I just waited to hear my name called.

FloridaPanthers.com: So you weren't too disappointed?

TROCHECK: Yeah. I thought it was a possibility, but I didn't have my hopes too high. I knew there were a lot of great players that were obviously in that year's draft, so I just kind of went into it with an open mind.

FloridaPanthers.com: Your heart must have been racing that entire second day.

TROCHECK: Oh yeah, definitely. The second day, I mean, it moves a little bit quicker than the first day, but I think I might have been sitting there for an hour-and-a-half the second day and it felt like the whole month.

FloridaPanthers.com: What did it feel like when the Panthers finally called your name in the third round?

TROCHECK: I honestly thought before the draft that it was going to be the Panthers. They had talked to me a lot leading up to [the draft]. They also seemed the most interested prior to the draft. It was them and another team that I kind of had an idea that it was going to be between the two of them. After the first day, I talked to one of their scouts and he told me that if I was still available they'd take me then. That's when I had the idea that it was going to be the Panthers.

FloridaPanthers.com: How did your pre-draft interviews with the Panthers go?

TROCHECK: I met with them at the combine, then before the draft and at the draft. I had more meetings with them than any other team. In the first few meetings they were just trying to get a feel for me and see what kind of guy I was. They had a bunch of guys in there, kind of evaluating character and stuff like that, which, obviously, we know now is a big part of how we pick guys and why we pick guys up. [Panthers GM Dale Tallon] does a great job with making sure that everybody he has on his team is a good character guy. They'd obviously seen me play, so it was just a matter of getting to know the kid.

FloridaPanthers.com: Was there any particular question from your pre-draft interviews with the Panthers that stuck out?

TROCHECK: I remember talking with them about the guys in the league that it was toughest to play against. I remember [Erik Gudbranson] being on the Panthers at the time and thinking that the toughest guy I had to play against in the OHL was Guddy. I remember that being a topic of discussion.

FlordidaPanthers.com: After leaving the stage, draftees are put through a media-driven gauntlet of photos, interviews and more. What was the post-draft experience like for you?

TROCHECK: It was kind of like the first time you get to feel like a bit of a pro. You're getting interviewed, going through all the pictures and you get to wear the jersey the whole day. It's extremely exciting. It's your first taste of feeling like you made it. You feel like you can play in the NHL and this is the team you could do it for. Going through all that was pretty surreal.

FloridaPanthers.com: After going through all of that, what was it like when you were finally reunited with your family?

TROCHECK: I was extremely happy. My parents were both a little emotional about the whole situation. We got to enjoy the day and have a little bit of fun. My whole family was there. I invited my cousins, uncles, aunts. As you know, my family travels a little to watch me play. There was a lot of them.

FloridaPanthers.com: Do you have a rough number for how many were there?

TROCHECK: Hmm… I'd say probably around 15.

FloridaPanthers.com: When a player gets drafted, the first thing they usually do is hug their friends and family before heading to the stage. How many people actually got hugs that day?

TROCHECK: Well, just my immediate family sat with me. The rest of them sat in a different section. Just in case we got a little too rowdy, we had to make sure that they were far away [laughs].

FloridaPanthers.com: Do you remember when you finally took the jersey off?

TROCHECK: I had it on for at least six hours. I wore it all the way back to the hotel.

FloridaPanthers.com: Where does it reside now?

TROCHECK: It's hanging in my parents' basement.

FloridaPanthers.com: Did you keep any other draft-day souvenirs?

TROCHECK: Yeah. My whole family got pretty much everything you could get at the draft.

FloridaPanthers.com: How did you and your family spend the post-draft night?

TROCHECK: We did go out to dinner. It was just my immediate family and one of my best friends from back home. After that, we all met up at the hotel and just kind of celebrated there.

FloridaPanthers.com: Looking back, how much do you think you being a third-round pick has pushed you to get to where you are in your career right now?

TROCHECK: Honestly, I think it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise. It doesn't matter what round you were drafted in when it comes to making the team. But kind of having that little chip on my shoulder from being drafted in the third round as opposed to the first or second, it gave me a little more of an edge and made me a little more hungry to get [to the NHL] before the guys picked ahead of me.

FloridaPanthers.com: As a third-round pick, what was your mindset heading into your first development camp following the draft?

TROCHECK: You've got to kind of make it as if it doesn't matter what round you were drafted in. Obviously if you're good enough you'll make it and no matter what round you are you'll get noticed. If you stand out, you stand out. It doesn't matter what round you were drafted in. Just look at [MacKenzie Weegar]. He was drafted in the seventh round and came into his first camp and showed everybody that he's a great player and got into one of his first [NHL] game last year. It's just a matter of after you do get drafted, if you do get drafted, trying to prove you worth.

FloridaPanthers.com: If you could offer one piece of advice to Florida's incoming draft class, what would it be?

TROCHECK: No matter where you're drafted, it's just a matter of making sure that you're working hard and, especially with the Panthers, it's making sure that you're a good character guy coming in with a positive attitude. It's doing your best to kind of get yourself noticed.

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