Although Hockey Canada listed the odds of making it to the NHL as a Canadian-born prospect as 4000-1, Queen’s defenceman, Spencer Abraham, hopes to bend the trend in his favour.
After being invited to the Florida Panthers’ rookie tournament last year, Abraham, who in the fall heads into his first year in Queen’s Law, was welcomed back to their 2017 development camp.
The camp — which ran from June 27-30 — was a four-day event hosting some of Florida’s top draft picks and young prospects. Without an NHL or AHL contact, the camp is often seen as a last-ditch effort to impress professional scouts. Both on-and-off the ice, invitees are given tips by the Panthers’ coaching staff on ways to improve their game.
In this year’s installment, Abraham said the camp offered players advice in terms of nutrition, how to properly rest and how to deal with the stresses of the NHL’s fast paced style of play. Throughout all the team meetings, Abraham added that mental toughness was a theme the coaching staff honed in on, highlighting its importance to success in the league.
“I can compete and contribute amongst the top young prospects in the world,” he said when asked what he learned at the camp. “I hope it will translate from an on-ice perspective going into my fourth season at Queen’s.”
As one of only 10 Canadian university hockey players this year to receive an invite to an NHL camp, Abraham’s work ethic and persistence is commendable. Even in the face of adversity, he said his confidence has never wavered.
“I was a last round draft pick to the OHL [and] I scratched and clawed in every game I ever played,” the Gaels defenceman said.
“When I came to Queen’s, that attitude didn’t – and still hasn’t – changed.”
Even though Abraham went from a fringe recruit — “I was barely recruited,” he said — to a three-time U-Sports All-Star, he wouldn’t change a thing. Throughout his career, he said he’s loved every challenge, adding that it’s been incredibly rewarding and satisfying.
“I was not guaranteed every opportunity to succeed, I had to earn it,” he said. “I didn’t expect to earn multiple NHL tryouts.”
In September, Abraham hopes to lead the Gaels from the blue-line to another great year. Until then he’ll relish the lessons the development camp rendered him, looking to improve on them as much as he can.
“I simply love hockey, love challenging myself. And those honors and opportunities have come about because of those qualities,” he said.
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