For the past three years, the Philadelphia Flyers have loaded up defensively with young prospects. They are hoping their defensive liabilities will become a thing of the past for the organization. Eventually, these young studs will transform the Flyers into a team that is hard to beat on a nightly basis.
We have seen some household names make their case at the AHL level to play with the big club, such as, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Robert Hagg. Just who else is looking to make their case of eventually playing with the big club in the future? How about David Drake who currently plays for the University of Connecticut. I was fortunate enough to recently have a phone interview with him, and he seems determined by the Flyers culture.
Drake was born on January 7, 1995, in Naperville, IL. The Flyers selected him in the 7th round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Drake was committed to the University of Connecticut following the NHL Draft, and he had a solid season for them in 2015-16. He registered 0 goals, 5 assists, and was a +10. Although, his stats were not anything to write home about, he really developed into a solid two way defenseman. Drake is a work-horse who has size and athleticism, and he believes that contributed to his solid season.
“I think the main thing is my size, athleticism, and hockey IQ. I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the game, especially on the defensive sides of things, so I think that allows me to be able to contribute in ways that keep the other team off the scoresheet. As I mature physically on and off the ice I think that I’ll be able to use my size and other abilities to contribute more on the offensive side, as well as, shutting down the other teams top guys night in and night out.”
The Huskies product really matured into a solid two way defenseman in the 2016-17 season. For the season he registered 3 goals, 4 assists, and was a +20. Fresh off his feel good season, just what seemed to be behind his success coming into the season?
“I think that these past 3 years have really allowed me to grow not only physically, but also in other ways that have allowed me to really mature as a player and as a person. Training is definitely very important to be able to compete at the college level, but I think that my confidence grows every year. I’ve become a lot more confident both defensively and offensively since my freshman year. I think that confidence is a huge part of what has enabled me to continually grow as a player.”
The young stud was very happy to get selected by the Flyers in 2013. Their so rich in history, and he thinks there was just something about this franchise than other franchises in hockey.
“I can remember watching the draft with my mom and dad, thinking there was a chance my name get called. When it finally did I can still remember how ecstatic my parents and I were. It was such a special feeling to be able to share something like that with the people I love and support me, with everything I’ve done throughout my entire life. Hard to explain the feeling but definitely something I’ll remember forever.”
Drake continued to state, “The fact that the Flyers were the team to call my name made the moment just that much more special. Of course it would be amazing to become part of any NHL franchise. But there is something just so unique and enticing about the culture the Flyers have created the past 50 years that not many other teams share.”
If a person has seen Drake play the last few years at the University of Connecticut, one would notice his skills grow each season. He has evolved into a solid shut down defender, and plays in all situations his coaching staff asks of him. Just where does his belief for success come from?
“I really believe that having family members and friends who believe in you no matter what is such an important part of life. Especially for myself when it comes to hockey. I always get texts or calls from both my parents giving advice and wishing me luck before all my games. I look forward to their messages, and before I get off the bus at the rink I’ll make sure to read them. It seems to put me at ease.”
The Flyers can never have too many defenseman. Drake may become another piece to the puzzle in the future for the Flyers. This could set them ahead of many organizations in the future with their young homegrown defenseman. He has matured and has become quite a leader for the Huskies. When his shot arises his unselfishness and dedication to the sport could rub off on many in the Flyers system.
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Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ralph Freso