I recently had a chance to speak with future top draft choice Scott Hartnell of the Prince Albert Raiders. He’s a good kid with a smart head on his shoulders. You know this kid is going far in the league just by talking to him.
To watch this kid play is what it must have been like to watch Trevor Linden, Dale Hunter, or even Rod Brind’amour play at this age. He’s got the skills, desire, and the leadership to be just as dominating as those three. It is obvious that what ever team drafts him in Calgary, on June 24, is going to be in for a real treat. This is the interview with Scott Hartnell.
HF: How has the pressure of the upcoming entry draft affected your play?
Scott: I don’t really try to think about it when I’m on the ice. You just go out and play your game the way you’ve been playing it for the past 10-15 years. Don’t try to change anything, just go out and play your style of hockey and that’s all you can ask for.
HF: Some people say that you are a good potential power forward, but they say your offensive upside isn’t as good as some of the other top ranked prospects. How would you comment on that?
Scott: I don’t really try and think about it. I just try to block it out of my head and do the best I can out there. I’m not very offensive like some of the other draft prospects, that’s pretty obvious through my numbers. I just go out there and score if I can and just do what I can do out there.
HF: So would you say that’s an unfair statement?
Scott: I don’t know. I like to go into the offensive zone and crash and bang and make things happen by doing that. If that’s what a power forward is then you can call me one I guess.
HF: How has playing under a coach such as Kevin McClelland affected your play?
Scott: He gets you to play every night. He’s a good motivator and he’s a great coach and been to the NHL and he knows what it takes to get to the NHL. You listen when he talks and you just try to take as much out of it as you can.
HF: Comment on what it’s like to play with two talented players such as Milan Kraft and Michal Sivek?
Scott: Their great players. They move the puck so well. They put the puck in the right place and right onto your stick. Their great to work with. Unfortunately Michal’s out right now, but they’re unbelievable players.
HF: What do you feel are the weaknesses in your game and how do you plan on improving your game between now and the NHL Entry Draft in June?
Scott: I think everyone can work on their skating. Everyone’s not the best skater so you got to work on that all the time. Just the little things like being good defensively. I’m not a very offensive player so I got to work on my defense too. My shot also. Just all the little things that make you a well rounded player.
HF: What are the strengths that you can bring to your team, both on and off the ice?
Scott: I’m a pretty good leader. Motivate the guys to play well. I’m an easy guy to talk to. Say guys have a problems, I can give them my knowledge and say what I can say and if that’s not enough they can talk to the older guys. I just try to be the hardest working player whenever I’m on the ice and hopefully guys can learn from that.
HF: Some teams like the New York Islanders tend to take their players and thrust them into the NHL limelight to soon, while teams like New Jersey may take a long time in developing their players. Is there a team in the NHL that you would like to go to in terms of development?
Scott: Not really. As long as I play in the NHL someday. That’s my main goal and as long as that happens I’ll be happy. Hopefully that happens.
HF: Do you think it would be more beneficial for you to go play in the NHL next year if you are offered to, or to stay in junior for at least one more year to continue to develop?
Scott: I don’t know. I think management will decide whether I’m ready to make the jump up to the NHL. Whether that will be next year or maybe I’ll have another year or two to work on whatever they decide I need to work on. It’s up to them.
I’d like to thank Scott Hartnell for taking the time to conduct this interview and I wish him well in the upcoming entry draft. Watch for Scott to be the number 3 pick on June 24 in Calgary.