RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Jack Drury sat on the PNC Arena ice with his arms raised in the air. He had just scored Carolina’s third goal in a 3-1 preseason win Tuesday over Tampa Bay.
“That felt nice,” Drury said. “It takes a load off your shoulders and can loosen up a bit.”
The Hurricanes selected the former Harvard star in the second round of the 2018 draft. In July, the New York native signed a three-year entry-level deal after a spectacular playing in Sweden for the Vaxjo Lakers. Now he’s fighting for a roster spot.
“It’s a stressful environment for everyone,” Drury said. “But as a pro athlete, that’s something you’ve got to be able to handle. It’s a fun challenge and I’m just trying to stay day to day, get a little better every day. That’s the message from Rod (Brind’Amour) and all the way through the organization.”
Drury and fellow rookie Jamison Rees are the two young forwards battling for one of the few openings heading into the regular season. There’s a chance neither will stick with the team, but why not make it tough on those who have to make that decision?
“Any of the young guys, they’ve got to make something happen and they’re doing that,” Brind’Amour said. “They want to make it tough on us to make the right decision, and that’s what they’re doing.”
The 21-year-old Drury projects as a future third-line center with second-line upside. His greatest strength is his hockey sense. Power play, penalty kill, or even strength, Drury can be trusted in all phases of the game.
The future looks bright for Drury, and that’s exactly what ‘Canes fans have to look forward to. The Carolina organization brought in some veteran presence to fill in the fourth line, making it very difficult for Drury to make the team out of camp.
“I really try to avoid that,” Drury said when trying to project his chances of making the team. “That’s all out of my control, so there’s really no point in worrying about it.
“We’ve got a lot of great guys in the room and I think everyone just wants to put their best foot forward every day and keep getting better.”