Defenseman Mike Komisarek from the University of Michigan figures to be gone from most National Hockey League teams’ draft lists very early on Saturday, as the 2001 NHL Entry Draft takes place at National Car Rental Center.
The hulking 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Islip Terrace, NY, is rated fourth among North American prospects on Central Scouting’s final ranking. In 41 games with the Wolverines, Komisarek scored four goals and 16 points, adding 77 penalty minutes.
A gifted skater, Komisarek combines a powerful stride with excellent lateral movement. His overall mobility and willingness to jump into the offensive play make him a coveted asset in the NHL. But perhaps even more impressive is Komisarek’s punishing physical game. His defensive positioning and intimidating presence have drawn comparisons to New Jersey’s Scott Stevens.
The 19-year-old defensive prodigy took part in the June 21 Top Prospects Clinic at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs, and was kind enough to answer a few questions for FloridaPanthers.com.
Q: How have you reacted to all the hoopla surrounding this weekend’s draft?
Mike Komisarek: “Well, it’s a dream come true. It’s something I’ve worked for all of my life. I think this is one step in the right direction, the first step in a long journey. The NHL Draft is where it all begins.”
Q: How many NHL teams have you talked to as you prepare for Draft weekend?
MK: “Altogether, up in Toronto and with a couple of teams coming up to Ann Arbor (MI), probably around 27.”
Q: You toured National Car Rental Center earlier today. What did you think of the facility?
MK: “It’s a beautiful place, unbelievable. It’s really a world-class facility. It doesn’t get better than that. I can’t imagine playing in that place.”
Q: Did the visit give you any thoughts of what it would be like to play for the Florida Panthers?
MK: “Well, right now I can only sit back and relax and take in this experience. This is all out of my control, no matter where I get drafted. I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Q: Just two days away from the NHL Entry Draft, how are you feeling?
MK: “I’m very excited. To work so hard for this, putting on that hat and that jersey on Saturday is one thing I’m definitely looking forward to. There are no nerves, just excitement. Since the moment I got off the plane, I’ve been walking around with a big smile on my face.”
Q: You’ve been quoted in the papers as saying you’ll stay and finish school at Michigan before starting your NHL career. Do you think that will be a factor in which team drafts you?
MK: “You never know what can happen. A degree is something that is very important to me, but anything can happen. If the time comes and it’s time to leave and if the team that I get drafted by thinks I’m ready and my coaches think I’m ready, then I think it’s time to sit down and talk about it and make a decision. But, you never know what can happen.”
Q: How have you enjoyed participating in today’s clinic (with Florida’s Peter Worrell, former NHLer Willie O’Ree and top prospects Jason Spezza and R.J. Umberger)?
MK: “This is great just to give back to the little kids and to see the smiles on their faces. I lived for this kind of stuff when I was little. To see the smiles on their faces, I can’t tell you how much it means.”
Q: You and Peter Worrell spent a few minutes alone in conversation during the clinic. What were you talking about?
MK: “We were talking about National Car Rental Center. It’s probably one of the best facilities in the world. He was telling me of his experiences playing there. He’s a pretty nice guy and it was nice talking to him.”
Thank you to Michael Citro with the Florida Panthers for conducting this interview, and thanks as well to the Florida Panthers for allowing Hockey’s Future to post this interview here as well.