Every year at Hurricanes development camp, there’s at least one “elder statesman”, a prospect in his third or fourth camp who stands out from the rest and takes on a bit of a leadership role. This year, one of those players was forward David Cotton.
A sixth rounder in 2015, Cotton was in Raleigh for his fourth development camp. He stood out throughout the week’s drills and during Saturday’s 3-on-3 scrimmage, and has grown his game quite a bit in three years at Boston College. Cotton has also gotten to see a good bit of change in the organization over that span as well, from the early stages of the Ron Francis/Bill Peters era to the early success of the new regime.
Cotton will return to the Eagles for his senior season in the fall and will then have a decision to make about his pro future. We caught up with Cotton after the scrimmage to ask him a few questions about his growth in the last few years.
Canes Country: What’s it like with this being your fourth camp? Have you taken on more of a leadership role?
David Cotton: I think both for myself and for the staff here there’s a bigger expectation for me, both with the testing on-ice and just my overall progression but also to make the younger guys more comfortable. I remember my first camp, my first two camps I was as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life.
So just kind of having those older guys back then take me under their wing and calm my nerves a lot really helped me. So for me it’s been a lot of the same, but I’m just enjoying the process. This camp, I think, has been as fun as any of them that I’ve been to. A lot of the guys are joking around so I thought the atmosphere was really good.
CC: How helpful have these camps been to you over the years to get feedback from the coaching staff and see your improvement year to year?
DC: I think it’s been incredibly helpful, just because you get to know the values of the organization, what to expect. You don’t want to let them down. So you want to put your best foot forward each time you come here. You get a feel for what it’s going to be like at the next level and being more of a professional, the responsibilities that you’re going to have to take.
I absolutely think these are incredibly useful tools that I’m able to use. Especially four years in, I’ve learned more than I would expect to. Just being a sponge, trying to take everything in, it’s been really beneficial for me I believe.”
CC: How much do you feel like your game has progressed over the last four years?
DC: From camp one to now, I think it’s almost been night and day for me. A lot of it’s been the tips and tricks and the conversations that I’ve had, both with my team at Boston College and also the staff here.
But I believe a lot of it’s just kind of been from myself, because I know what I have to do. I don’t think it’s a mystery. I have to get faster, get stronger, get bigger. A lot of that falls on me. I have to put in the work, and I believe over the past four years I’ve really put my mind to that and I think the results are starting to show.
CC: It’s been night and day for the organization as a whole in terms of how much things have changed since your first camp. Was it fun to see the Stanley Cup Playoffs logos stamped on the ice and get a reminder of what you’re playing for?
DC: It’s actually unbelievable how far this organization’s come in such a short period of time. But there’s been a culture shock here, especially starting with [Rod Brind’Amour] coming in and really having that no tolerance, like, “We’re going to be the best; I don’t care what anyone says.” So having that mindset, it all starts with him. And you can see it with the players that played for Carolina this year. Each game they brought it.
And in the AHL, with Charlotte, unbelievable year with winning the Calder Cup. And even then you see the prospect pool coming to camp each year. Everyone’s hungry, everyone knows what to expect. It’s a bright future ahead for this organization and it’s definitely exciting to be a part of it.