Defenseman Brandon Crawley has taken the opportunities given to him since June and ran with them, turning in a strong first camp with the Rangers that led to him signing his entry-level contract with the organization on Monday.
"It was real exciting. My parents were pretty excited, too," Crawley told NYRangers.com on Tuesday. "Excited for the next three years here, hopefully which is going to be a real good experience."
As a native of nearby Glen Rock, N.J., Crawley, 20, has always been surrounded by the Rangers, making his draft selection and subsequent signing with the franchise all the more special.
"For my parents, it was really special," said Crawley. "My dad's dad was a big Ranger fan. He passed away a few years ago. It was special for my dad too because it was always [his father's] team. I'm glad I can stay close to home."
Despite not making the club, Crawley made the most of the chance given to him by Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff that included skating in a game in Newark against the Devils, which Crawley scored in. That paid off as it appears Crawley will bypass his final year of Ontario Hockey League eligibility and begin the year with Hartford of the American Hockey League.
Video: NYR@NJD: Crawley goes top shelf for PPG
The experience of his first camp with the Blueshirts was a "surreal" one for the 6-1, 205-pound blueliner who spent three years with London of the OHL.
"Getting to play with all the NHL guys, getting a little more comfortable with them. They were all very accessible," he said. "To get the opportunity to play in that game in New Jersey was super special for me because I had a bunch of family (there). All in all, it was an awesome training camp and an awesome experience."
Now it's on to Hartford where Crawley is part of a very young Wolf Pack blueline, giving Crawley the chance to play in many different situations that should only benefit his development.
"It's going to be an awesome year," Crawley said. "I think the staff down here are great. They're doing a great job. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity the defensive core has here. It's a great opportunity for me and it's going to be a great season of learning and I hope I get a lot better."
The parting advice from Vigneault and company was to do just that.
"Just continue to develop," Crawley said when asked what the message from the coaching staff in New York was. "Everyday, go to the rink and work hard and keep on getting better. Focusing on the little things I need to learn to be a pro and develop my game. Hopefully if I can do that, I'll have a chance with the big club."