Angelo Esposito, who was the early favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, is one of the more enigmatic NHL draft-eligible prospects. Esposito just completed his second year as a center for the QMJHL Quebec Remparts, and is considered one of the best skaters and playmakers among the 1989 birth-year players. His strength, toughness and consistency appear to be issues raised by some of the scouts, so HF sat down with him recently to talk about this time of his life and some of the questions about his game.
HF: What is it like being a top draft prospect, how do you feel about so much scrutiny upon you?
AE: It’s like having job interviews. It’s a lot of fun for me because I am excited and am really happy to be in this position.
HF: How difficult is it for you to have been the early favorite to be chosen No. 1 and then to find, as the draft gets closer, that you are in competition from some pretty strong players?
AE: It’s something I have tried not to worry about. I just go out there every day and play hockey, and, then, whatever happens when the draft comes, happens.
HF: As far as falling from the projected No. 1, there have been some questions as to whether your commitment to hockey and playing a complete game are as they should be. Are you aware of any of that? Have any of the teams questioned you about your commitment?
AE: My goal in life is to play hockey and anything I need to do that is what I will do. I am really not aware of any team thinking that I don’t want to play hockey as a career.
HF: How has the interviewing with the NHL teams been going? You have already been talking to them, right?
AE: Well, I had 20 interviews at the Combine and some teams outside of it. The questions are very similar from one team to the next, in the sense that the teams are trying to get to know me and get to know what kind of guy I am. You can’t really prepare for the interviews. You just have to be yourself, because that’s what they are looking for. They want to get to know me, and what to expect from me.
HF: What is it that they can expect from you as far as what your on-ice strengths are?
AE: My strongest asset is my speed. I can really use my skating to my advantage. I am able to open up the ice for my teammates and start making plays, and that’s when I can really make things happen.
HF: As far as on-the-ice goes, how do you feel your development went this past year?
AE: This was a real learning year for me. Coming off a year where the team won the Memorial Cup, this year I came back and was playing with mostly different players. I learned a lot from the experience.
HF: What will you be working on over the next year and in the near future to improve your game?
AE: I think it will be my consistency. I have to make sure to bring my game every time I am on the ice. I have been working on it this year, and I am going to continue to next season. It’s something I have to improve upon as well as my defensive zone play.
HF: As far as the consistency goes, do you think it’s the mental side of the game that needs some work?
AE: Yes, that is exactly what it is. I have been working on that, and it’s getting better and better.
HF: What have you been doing to work on it?
AE: Just every game I go out there, and I just play shift by shift. I have been concentrating on working hard every shift.
HF: Has Coach [Patrick] Roy been helping you with that?
AE: Yes, definitely. He has been working with me a lot on that, and that is why I have improving so much in this area.
HF: Who do you think has been most influential in your hockey career thus far?
AE: It’s been my parents, as they have always been there for me. Lately though, over the last two years, I think Patrick [Roy] has been one of my biggest influences. He’s been a great mentor for me.
HF: What kinds of things do you like to do off the ice, when you are not skating or involved in working out?
AE: We don’t have much time off the ice during the season. So whenever I do, I like to relax and take it easy — go out and watch a movie, or stay home and watch one. Not very exciting stuff, just relaxing.
Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.