By Bill Whitehead
PHILADELPHIA – Brandon Wheat Kings right winger Jayce Hawryluk has only been to Florida once, but he hopes to bring his fiery style of play to the Sunshine State in the near future.
Hawryluk, 18, met with Dale Tallon on Friday before the draft, and the GM told the Manitoba native that if he were still on the board at No. 32 in the second round, the Cats would be all over him. On Saturday, Hawryluk – plus a few projected first-round players who had slipped to the second round – was still there. Tallon and Florida honored their word.
“They contacted me (yesterday) and said, ‘You’re our guy at 32.’ They kept to their promise, 100 percent. I appreciate, and it means a lot,” said Hawryluk, who led Brandon with 64 points (24-40) in 59 games on a team that also featured John Quenneville, the first round’s final selection by New Jersey Friday night.
“They’re a good, young team and I know some of the players. I know Colby Robak, he comes from near where I am. He trains at the same gym.”
Hawryluk lives in Roblin (population 3,284) but was born across the border in Yorkton, Sask., because Roblin didn’t have a hospital. The town held a draft party for him.
“My work ethic,” Hawryluk said when asked what his biggest asset was. “I describe my playing style as a Brad Marchand or Brendan Gallagher type of player…(New Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant), I heard he played a lot like me back in the day, with a chip on his shoulder. He’s a great coach and I heard he’s a great guy.
“Obviously, you want to go in with the confidence that you can be a first-round type of pick. I had that confidence and this is a dream come true for me. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Hawryluk said being on the receiving end of sibling rivalries, many of them hockey oriented in a very competitive environment, likely contributed to his style of play.
“I’m a fiery guy, you know. I’ve always been like that my whole life and don’t expect it to change. I play with a chip on my shoulder and I’m a tenacious guy every shift. I have three older brothers; that could’ve helped it,” he said
As for Florida?
“I went to Disney World when I was 13 maybe. It was hot. It’s been awhile, but I’m excited to go back. I don’t mind (the heat),” Hawryluk said.
The knock on Hawryluk has been his 5-foot-10, 192-pound build, but his tenacity and work ethic may be worth the difference and more. It worked for Marchand and Gallagher, smaller players who have earned the reputation as being pest-like.
Personality wise, there’s a ton to like about the kid. You could say he’s kind of fiery during the interview process as well, or at least direct and kind of amped up. I like the pick mainly because it sort of resembles the Trocheck selection from Minnesota in 2011 – a team-leading scorer who is gritty and does the little things well, though Vince was never rated this highly.
With some good talent falling to the second round, Tallon must really like Hawryluk because he made a promise to the kid and kept his word.
Follow Bill Whitehead on Twitter @BillWhiteheadFL and in Scripps newspapers online at TCPalm.com