INSIDERS. It’s June. June is good for a number of things. The Stanley Cup Final. Trades. The NHL Draft, which also happens to coincide with the start of summer. And to get us caught up for both the NHL Draft and the summer solstice, NHL.com correspondent / Stonehenge enthusiast Heather Engel spoke with a variety of top prospects and NHL figures at the NHL Combine last week in Buffalo and is here to share her gatherings. Many thanks to Heather for the correspondence from the ground at the KeyBank Center – give her a follow on Twitter. More to come from Heather and the LA Kings on that front.Bowen Byram on when he first dreamed making it to the NHL:
Obviously it’s a dream growing up for everybody to one day play in the NHL. I think that I’ve always been confident in myself and my abilities but it just kind of set in lately maybe that it’s a possibility for me. I’ve worked really hard to put myself in a good position heading into the draft so from now on, it’s just kind of sit back and wait to see how things pan out.
Byram on Kirby Dach, Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs:
They’re all three unbelievable players. Growing up with them, playing against them my whole life pretty much has been a lot of help to my development and theirs as well, I’m sure. I think the biggest comparison to them all is just their compete level. They all want to be the best, they all work very hard in the gym, on the ice, whatnot. They’re three of my good buddies and three of the top athletes in the country.
Byram on meeting with the Kings at the Combine:
It was pretty cool. They obviously have a couple of guys in that organization that were big names in the NHL so just to be able to meet those guys was definitely pretty cool.
It kind of opened my eyes and I knew I needed to start working a little bit harder at it. I got the chance to make the team so I took the most of it. And I think I never looked back once I made it.
Caufield on his size being an advantage:
I think it’s my ability to get lost and find spots. I think, if I was taller, I wouldn’t be the player I am today, so it’s kind of an advantage and it helps me in a way. And, again, if I was big, I don’t think I’d have the success that I have.
Caufield on handling the increase in attention as he moved up the draft rankings:
It’s was kind of just like a chip on my shoulder. All along I thought I was a top guy and it’s kind of just wanting to prove people wrong and prove that I belong up there with those top guys. For me, it was just kind of keep playing my game, keep working hard, because at some point, I guess other people will realize it and open their eyes a little bit.
It’s going to be stressful for sure but lots of excitement. We’re all there waiting to hear our name called and once it happens there’s going to be lots of emotion and lots of excitement. It’s going to be a big relief.
Cozens on being from the Yukon:
Not too many players come from there so to show that I can come from the North and anyone can make it from anywhere is for sure pretty cool.
Cozens on the biggest misconception about the Yukon:
Lots of people don’t know what it’s like up there. They think it’s some little community with igloos and stuff but [Whitehorse] is just a normal place, a normal little town. We’ve got working electricity, houses, WiFi (laughs). It’s just a normal place.
Cozens on potentially playing in a big city:
There’s a big difference between [New York or Los Angeles] and Whitehorse but I like being in the big cities so it’d be a cool and awesome experience.
There’s so many great players here. Team Canada, I’ve been fortunate to be on those teams and play with some amazing players and play against all these guys. It’s pretty interesting getting to meet these guys and see what their personalities are like off the ice because you only get to see them on the ice. It’s pretty cool.
Krebs on where he improved the most in a rough season for the Kootenay Ice (second-to-last overall):
It was a tough year, definitely, but I think as a person I grew and as a player, I worked on my defensive game. I got to play against a lot of the top guys in the Western (Hockey) League and I think that helped me gain a lot of knowledge to help me play in the future.
Krebs, on staying motivated this season:
You go back to your passion for the game. I love the game so much and that’s what drove me every day to get up and try to get better. That’s what I want to be; one day I want to be the best player in the world, or at least try to be. That’s what keeps motivating me and the guys around me, they motivate me. My teammates are so strong for going through the year we had. I not only wanted to do it for myself but do it for them also.
–Lead photo via Bill Wippert/NHLI