When Spokane Chiefs centerman Hudson Elynuik was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the 2016 National Hockey League Entry Draft in June, it was a dream come true, but it was just the beginning of a whirlwind few months.
Elynuik is back in Spokane now for the Chiefs’ 2016-17 Western Hockey League season, but his summer included the Hurricanes’ Prospect Development Camp in early July, the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, and then the Canes’ main training camp in late September.
More than a dozen NHL teams had contacted Elynuik before the draft, so he wasn’t too surprised by his selection. As the second of Carolina’s three third-round picks – 74th overall – he was happy that he didn’t have to wait too long to hear his name announced.
“Camp was a great experience,” Elynuik said. “It gave me a feel where for I fit in the organization. At the main camp, I was just taking everything in.
“I was amazed that I was actually there, being around NHL veterans, seeing how they play and what they do on and off the ice. I’m already looking forward to next year, because I’ll be there to compete for a job.”
For now, though, Elynuik knows that he has work to do in Spokane, continuing to improve his game after a second-half breakthrough last season. The Calgary native missed several weeks of his draft year after an early-season injury, but finished with 44 points in 56 games, including 19 goals. In January, he scored 17 points in a 20-game stretch, including a 10-game point streak, and added three goals in six playoff games to conclude the season.
“It’s obviously really devastating when you’re injured,” he noted, “but there’s lots of work you can do to improve your game while you’re injured. You have to do what you can to stay physically at the level where you were before you got hurt. If you don’t, you set yourself back even more.”
Elynuik arrived in Spokane in January of 2014 as a relatively wide-eyed 16-year-old, having been acquired by the Chiefs in a trade with the Kootenay Ice. Still filling into his towering 6-foot-5 frame, he knows what it’s like to be the young guy and now, as a veteran wearing an “A”, he can help his young teammates make the same leaps.
“We have a young team this year, but it’s a great group of guys. I want us to take a run as far as we can. My game has matured a lot since I got to Spokane, and I strive to get more out of myself every day.”
The arrow is certainly pointing up for the Hurricanes prospect.
NOTES: Elynuik is the youngest of three boys. His father, Pat, a first-round pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by Winnipeg, spent nine seasons in the NHL with four teams, scoring 154 career goals.
Spokane Chiefs Education Advisor Joe Everson works with all Chiefs players, from those still in high school to those pursuing a post-secondary education or preparing to do so following their WHL career. He helped lead the Chiefs to the WHL’s Scholastic Team of the Year Award for the 2015-16 season. Throughout this season, Everson will profile individual Chiefs to provide insight into their lives, their mindset and their goals for the future.