Hudson Elynuik has spent his off season doing hockey things, like practicing shots in his garage in Calgary, Alberta.
That’s what a kid chasing a NHL dream considers a good afternoon.
Elynuik, who has spent most of the last three seasons as a Spokane Chief, is hoping to hear his name called as the NHL draft kicks off Friday and runs through Saturday.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound forward expects to be Saturday pick. The 18-year-old is rated as the 68th best prospect among North American skaters.
“This has been my dream since I can remember, since I was born,” Elynuik said. “I laced up the skates at 2 years old. So, it’s been brewing for a while.”
Elynuik suffered a broken toe to start the season, but he came on strong late. He finished with 19 goals and 25 assists in 56 games.
But his best work came in January when he scored a point in 17 of 20 games beginning on Jan. 9.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year, for sure, both on and off the ice,” he said. “Having coach Don (Nachbaur) believe in me by putting me in key situations really helped me grow as a player.”
Elynuik’s father, Pat Elynuik, was the eighth overall pick in the 1986 draft by the old Winnipeg Jets (now Arizona Coyotes). The elder Elynuik played nine seasons in the NHL, scoring 342 points in 506 career games.
While some teams have contacted the younger Elynuik, he said he knows his name likely won’t be called nearly as early as his father’s. And even if he is drafted, he will return to play for the Chiefs unless he makes the roster of his new team.
“It would just be great to go anywhere,” he said. “It would be a great opportunity.”
In the meantime, Elynuik has been working out and skating with his father to improve quickness.
“It’s good to be back with family and friends, but it’s a short summer,” he said. “Fall is coming up pretty quick. I’m excited to get back to Spokane and get things started for next year.”
Elynuik understands hours of preparation are required to chase the dream that his father once lived.
“It’s a pretty competitive game. You are competing against everyone around the world,” he said. “Someone is always trying to take your spot, and you are always trying to take someone else’s spot. So you have to keep working.”
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