Jack Drury might have been the Hurricanes’ most decorated prospect last season. He won a championship while over in Sweden, won bronze with the United States at the World Championships and was nominated for the SHL’s rookie of the year award. I was able to talk to Drury about this past season, what he’s looking to accomplish this season and more.
First of all, congrats on winning an SHL championship this past season. What went into your decision to play in Sweden?
I think it was unlikely at that time that Harvard was going to have a season. Out of all of the leagues that were going to play, Sweden was the most likely to have a season. The SHL is an incredible league and up there among the best leagues in the world. I had an offer and it all fell into place.
How long did it take for you to adjust to the game over there?
The first couple of games were an adjustment. It’s structurally different and you have to be a little more aware and smarter with your positioning. It took a bit of adjusting but as every week went by, I grew more confident in my skating and hockey sense.
It seems like once you got your bearings, there was no looking back as far as offense was concerned. What changed and how did you feel once the bounces started going your way?
I think it was a little bit of confidence. Some of it is that hockey is a funny game where nothing is going for you and then all of a sudden everything is. Overall, it takes some time to gain confidence. The jump from college to pro hockey is different so I’m glad I got to do that a year earlier.
Winning a championship is always special, and getting to do it in your first professional season is something even more special. What was that moment like for you?
It’s great. I think the playoff experience was incredibly helpful and fun. We had a lot of guys on the team who had been on deep playoff runs, so getting to learn and go through that process with them helped me mature as a player. It’s a fun time of the year and it requires an extra push. Getting to learn from those guys was a valuable experience.
Heading back to North America, you’re looking poised to compete for an NHL job this year. What’s the mindset heading into the Showcase and training camp?
It’s exciting. I think I’ve always focused on my process and I’m my best when I’m focused on being the best player I can be. The closer you get to the NHL the harder it becomes to take the next step and everything you do gets more important. I’m taking it one day at a time and looking forward to taking it to Tampa. We have a close group and we’re all looking forward to getting some games in. Keep absorbing everything I can and stay as confident as I can.
You’re one of the “older” guys in terms of prospects this year. What sort of responsibility comes with that?
Treat everyone well and with respect. Make sure they’re all involved, ask them questions and more. It’s easier because everyone is super nice and that’s a part of the Carolina Hurricanes mold. They’re picking character guys and it shows. It’s easy to talk to the younger guys because they’re so keen to learn.
What are some of your goals heading into the season?
I like to keep goals internal and things that I can control. That’s how I maintain my confidence and ultimately perform to the highest of my abilities. I want to develop that unshakeable confidence. My cutbacks need to get quicker even though I’ve gotten better. You look at NHL players and it’s all about creating separation, so I want to add speed.
What were some of your favorite things to do when you were in college at Harvard?
I had great teammates at Harvard and a good rooming group with my class. We loved going to nice dinners together, sitting at the dining hall for hours. I enjoyed walking around because Boston is a great college town. My most memorable experiences were with my teammates.
Could you walk us through the contract process?
I let my agent handle the contract stuff. For me, it’s just play the best you can and surround yourself with a support system. I had to figure out the avenues I was going to go down once I got back to the US and I was excited when I got the opportunity.
Did you do anything fun over the offseason?
I got to train in Chicago with my brothers, which was fun. We got a lot better together. I spent a week in Boston with my roommates from Harvard, too. Other than that, it’s mostly skating and training. The offseason is where most of the work gets done and it’s a good time to regain your focus.
Finally, what would your goal song be?
The first thing that came to my head was Rock You Like a Hurricane. It’s the walk out song and I want to be a Hurricane, so it’s perfect.
The Hurricanes start off the Prospects Showcase at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday.