Dawson Leedahl didn't know what was next at the start of the season with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
The undrafted forward had been traded by Everett to Regina prior to the start of his final season of junior hockey, with no pro contract to look ahead towards.
That uncertainty allowed Leedahl to give the Pats everything he had and play with no regrets in hopes a NHL team would come calling.
"I knew that I was playing to make my career keep going," Leedahl said.
Lucky for him, that attitude paid off when the Rangers came calling with an entry-level contract that he signed on May 8.
"It's awesome," Leedahl told NYRangers.com in a phone interview from his home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. "You grow up your whole life wanting to be a pro hockey player. It's a big step. I couldn't be happier."
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Leedahl turned in the best season of his WHL career in terms of statistics. His 35 goals, 54 assists and 89 points in 71 games for the Pats were all career-highs, and by a long shot. His previous high water mark for goals was 14 and points was 33, which he set two years ago with the Silvertips.
Leedahl credits his success on the offensive side of the puck to his move to Regina, which played a more puck possession style than Everett, as well as his linemates. He said those changes, namely in the system, "gave me the freedom to really play my game."
Leedahl and the Pats had the best record in the WHL at 52-12-7-1, good enough for 112 points. Regina came out of the Eastern Conference in the WHL playoffs, but were defeated by Seattle in six games in the WHL Final.
"I'm really proud of what we got accomplished, said Leedahl, who had 12 goals and 25 points in 23 postseason games. "Too bad we didn't get a few more wins to go to the Memorial Cup right now. You take away how much it sucks to lose when you're that close. It's good experience to win in the playoffs for the future."
Despite the increased offensive production, the 21-year-old said he prides himself on being a reliable forward in both ends of the ice.
"I'm kind of a two-way player," he said. "I try to take care of the defensive zone first then work on offense after that."
The plan for Leedahl is to now take about 10 days off from hockey before training begins. He's expected to be at the Rangers Prospect Development Camp in June. There, Leedahl said he hopes to show those in the organization who have not seen him play what type of player he is.
"I just want to show them what I can do for the team," he said. "Show them what kind of guy I am and try to impress as many people as I can because not many have seen me play."