Less than a year removed from hearing his named called in Florida that he had been drafted by the New York Rangers, Ryan Gropp offers up as vivid a memory as any player in the Rangers' organization on what it feels like to have years of hard work pay off.
Gropp, whom the Rangers selected with the 41st overall pick in last year's draft, said from the combine to the draft itself, from start to finish the experience isn't one he'll soon forget.
"The whole process was a blast," Gropp told BlueshirtsUnited.com in a recent phone interview. "You're a young kid and you're talking to all these NHL teams and it's fun to make the most of it."
Gropp, who scored 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points in 66 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, said sitting down with NHL front offices during the combine was "overwhelming," but "when you get picked it's a relief and exciting."
The Kamloops, British Columbia-native opted not to attend the draft in person last year, opting instead to watch it with his family and friends.
The 6-foot-2, 189-pound winger said the pick by the Rangers came as a bit of a surprise, as the two sides didn't have much discussion leading up to the draft.
"I talked to them once at the combine and maybe once during the year, but I never knew the Rangers were that interested," Gropp said.
Gropp didn't mince words when talking about the impact that day had on him.
"It was probably the coolest day of my life."
Currently, the Rangers have five picks in this year's NHL Draft, which begins Friday night in Buffalo. Gropp, who around this time last year was waiting to see what was next for his career, said those waiting to hear their names called should just enjoy the whole process.
"The biggest thing would be just to enjoy it," Gropp said when asked what advice he had for this year's draft class. "Make sure you take it in and not get too nervous and just have fun with it. Make sure you're ready to go when the time comes at development camp. Take everything in stride."