The Panthers made it official today that Jayce Hawryluk, their 2nd round pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, has been signed to an entry-level contract. The 20-year old right-winger is having a career year with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL where’s he’s playing in his fourth and final season before turning pro. We were able to catch up with Hawryluk last week before the signing was official for a brief interview in an effort to get to know him a little better.
What is the one area you feel you need to improve the most in order to make it to the NHL? How far away do you feel you are from the NHL?
“I think I can keep improving all areas of my game. You can never stop improving in whatever it is, but I think my skating has been getting better and better each year. That’s something I take pride in getting better at because the game is so fast nowadays and you need to be able to skate to play in the NHL. Honestly, in my mind, I believe I could play next year. I’m going to do everything I can to prove to the management that I am ready to make the jump.”
What player would you compare yourself to or that you model your style of player after?
Is there anyone currently playing in the pros that you reach out to for advice?
“I would say Mike Matheson and Ryan Pulock mostly. I don’t know too many people in the NHL yet.”
What were your thoughts when Tallon said that if you are there in the 2nd round, he was guaranteeing to take you?
“I was really excited and nervous at the same time. Also, I felt a sense of security because you could tell Dale is a man of his word, and that’s exactly what happened.”
What is your favorite cheat meal?
“Anything Ukranian. Perogies, cabbage rolls, etc.”
Do you follow the Panthers and/or Pirates (AHL affiliate) at all?
“Yes, I do. I follow both teams.”
If you had to choose your favorite player on the Panthers this season, who would it be?
“Jagr, obviously. He’s a legend.”
Where do you see yourself in 2 years time?
“I’d like to think playing in the NHL.”
At what point in your life/career did you realize that playing in the NHL was a realistic possibility?
“My draft season.”
Has your size disadvantage helped you perform at a higher level in order to prove people wrong that you can be as good as a taller/bigger player?
“I’ve never let my size affect the way I play. I really like the quote, ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.'”
Final question: What are your thoughts on rotisserie chicken? Like it, love it, or hate it?
“Just ‘like it.'”
(We explained the rotisserie chicken story to him afterwards and he thought it was funny.)
For more information on Jayce Hawryluk, check out our prospect profile of him by clicking here.