Mitch Marner has some sound advice for how you’ll want to style your hair — it involves a mullet. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect has no idea what you’re going to do about those nerves, though.
The 2016 NHL Draft is upon us, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment, if you’re lucky. In the interest of helping out this year’s class, headlined by American Auston Matthews and Finn Patrik Laine, Sportsnet spoke to four recent first-round picks, who kindly passed on their best Draft Day tips.
The roster of advisors includes two 2015 selections: Marner, taken fourth overall, and Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia’s 7th overall pick. We also polled a pair of 2014 draftees, defenceman Haydn Fleury, who Carolina took 7th overall, and Conner Bleackley, Colorado’s 23rd-overall selection (he was later traded to Arizona).
The advisors came up with 10 pieces of key advice for the kids who’ll be waiting to hear their names called on Friday in Buffalo.
1. Buy a new suit. “My mom took me to Harry Rosen, so I got some nice stuff there,” Fleury says. “I was pumped to wear it. It’s like your graduation of hockey, so if you’re gonna get a new suit for graduation, you might as well get a new one for the draft.”
2. Get your Z’s. “Sleep in, if your body lets you,” Bleackley says. But remember: It might not. “I didn’t get the best sleep the night before,” Fleury says. “Then I tried to take a nap, and it wasn’t the best.”
3. Enjoy yourself on the day-of. “Our draft was in Miami, so I was right beside the beach — we were pretty lucky,” Marner says. “I swam in the ocean with my family, my uncle and my girlfriend. We relaxed in there.” Maybe a paddleboat ride at Canalside in Buffalo is in order for this year’s class.
4. Get ready for mad nerves. “There’s no way to compact your nerves. They take you over, kinda,” Marner says. “It’s really hard to keep your emotions in.” So, good luck with that.
5. Style: If you can pull off a mullet, do it. “I had long hair and it didn’t look too good on me, so I cut it down short for the draft,” Marner says. “If a mullet looks good on ya, it looks good on ya. Go with it.”
6. Be ready to wait. “Once the draft got started, it seemed like the longest time before my name got called — for me, it was about 45 minutes,” Fleury says. “It was the longest 45 minutes of my life.”
7. If the wait is longer than you expected, don’t fret. “You’re gonna go to a team that clearly wants you,” Fleury says. “Even if it’s a little bit later, it’s still a lifelong dream, a childhood dream. Enjoy it.” Adds Provorov: “Everything that happens, happens for a reason.”
8. Act your age. “Don’t forget to be a 17-year-old kid,” Bleackley says. “Sometimes it can be hard. It was the busiest year I’ve had of my life so far, but looking back on it, it’s real glamorous and it’s your draft year and it all builds up to this one night.”
9. Be prepared to hold off on celebrating until the next day. “After your name gets called, there’s thousands of pictures you gotta go through and autographs and stuff,” Bleackley says. “By the time I got outta there it was probably one in the morning, and I was so tired. It was crazy, all the stuff we had to do.”
10. If you’re not sure what to wear, here’s some last-minute style advice: “It’d be pretty nice if someone went no socks, short pants,” Fleury says, grinning. “And skinny tie.”
There you have it, class of 2016. You’re as ready as you’ll ever be.