MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Being one of the three can't-miss 17-year-olds on the Halifax Mooseheads gave playmaker par excellence Jonathan Drouin a buffer zone by times this season.
The scrutiny was continual, but with centre Nathan MacKinnon and goalie Zachary Fucale also garnering hype, it was not necessarily constant. That allowed Drouin, to some extent, to let his game speak for itself during his first full season in the QMJHL. Over time, Drouin has become more expansive in interviews, much the same way he seems to explore the space on the ice when he passes the puck through the eye of a needle to set up a goal.
The attention has been later arriving for Drouin than for either MacKinnon or fellow top prospect Seth Jones, but it's still a challenge. Buzzing The Net had a brief sitdown with Drouin on Thursday at the NHL combine, where he and his two contemporaries were introduced as spokesmen for Reebok/CCM's line of hockey equipment. Here's how it went:
BTN: "How old were you the first time you were ever interviewed about playing hockey?"
JD: "I think it was probably in midget. That was when it started. Interviewers started coming, journalists were asking questions."
BTN: "There’s so much pressure to deliver on the ice, but you also get scrutinized for how you handle a question. How did you prepare yourself for that?"
JD: "There’s pressure that comes with that. When you sit down with NHL teams, there are a lot of questions that are asked. But for the most part it has gone smoothly. They know what they need to ask and they’ve been through a lot."
BTN: "But what about with the media, all season long?"
JD: "It's a part of hockey. We don’t mind that. Our staff in Halifax did a really good job with helping us answer questions and making sure we handled it the right way."
BTN: "Was John Moore (Halifax’s long-time radio play-by-play man) a big help for Nathan and yourself? It seemed like he had a video up with one or both of you every few days all season."
JD: "For sure! John Moore, if he ever loses his camera, he’d probably have a heart attack. Johnny's been awesome for us. He’s been doing that for 18 years. We’re really, really happy we brought him a Cup win."
BTN: "How important is it to show that you’re a personality, not just a player?"
JD: "That’s something you have to show. You’re not just drafting a player, you’re drafting a person. That’s what NHL teams are trying to see [at the combine], what kind of person you are off the ice."
JD: "I really did. He’s been through a bit more than me and for him, it started earlier. It was great to not have to handle it alone, because Fucs [Mooseheads goalie Zachary Fucale, a projected first-rounder] was also going through it. It went pretty well."
BTN: "What is the oddest item you have ever been asked to autograph?
JD: "I don’t think there’s ever been something that odd. Most of the time it’s just a hockey picture."
BTN: "In terms of personal development, how did it benefit you to play for a QMJHL team in the Maritimes?"
JD: The Q's a good league and the Maritimes was a decent division this year [with Moncton and P.E.I., now Charlottetown, each finishing in the first division — Ed.]. There were a lot of challenges and a lot of travel. I think I learned a lot and it's been good for me."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.