Prospect Spotlight: Kevin Quick
With Kevin Quick's senior year at Salisbury Prep School behind him and his freshman year at the University of Michigan ahead of him, BoltProspects managed to catch up with him recently and ask him a few questions. Even though, he announced his intentions to play for the Wolverines last November, the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League drafted Kevin in the 8th round of the OHL Priority Draft. This fueled speculation that perhaps Kevin would consider foregoing an NCAA career for the Canadian juniors developmental route. Kevin answers this question and many more.
From the coach's desk...
BoltProspects also had a chance to get some feedback on Kevin's talent analysis and upside from a couple of his former coaches. Salisbury Prep head coach Dan Donato remarked, "Kevin's biggest strength is his skating. He will need to continue to work on his strength and conditioning to meet the demands of an NHL schedule, but is an NHL Top-4 defenseman type. With his skating ability, he can play against the most skilled opposing forwards at the next levels. He also has the ability to play on special teams."
Neponset Valley River Rats Midget Major head coach Scott McDougall echoed Donato's analysis by adding, "Kevin is the type of defenseman that can play in all situations. He is a defense first defenseman with a tremendous offensive game. He makes sure things are taken care of in his own zone before he moves to the offensive side of the puck. He makes a great first pass and at some points can be a one man breakout due to his great skating. With the new rules enforcement, it benefits Kevin as he is an NHL skater right now. He doesn't take penalties as he continually keeps his feet moving. Other than skating, his most impressive asset is how responsible he is in the defensive zone. He plays against the other teams top line and shuts them down every week. He has yet to finish minus in game this season."
McDougall further added, "He possess an average wrist shot and a good slap shot that is almost always well placed. He needs to continue to get stronger to be an impact NHL player. When Kevin is shooting the puck through screens rather than stick handling around people he is more effective, as he is a smart shooter using the defensemen as a screen very well. He could still stand to shoot the puck more then he does now. It will only help his point production. The added weight will help him shoot harder and will help him as he likes to play a physical game. Getting in the weight room in the next few years is the best thing Kevin can do for his career. That will come as he steps foot on a college campus next fall. His work ethic is tremendous and he will continue to improve during his time in college hockey."
McDougall made following comparisons regarding the types of players Kevin resembles, "He plays like Scott Niedermayer, as the puck seems to follow him around, and he isn't afraid to step up into the play. His passing is similar to that of Niedermayer. A more closely comparison though comes in the college game, as Kevin plays like Jack Johnson from the University of Michigan. He skates, passes and has similar offensive instincts as Johnson, but doesn't yet possess the great shot that Johnson has. The River Rats program has had some high end prospects play in the organization like Phoenix Coyote Keith Yandle, and San Jose 1st round pick Mike Morris. At this age Kevin is ahead of where they were. As long as his progression continues he will be an NHL defensemen. He should be a great 2-4 Defensemen in the NHL down the road."
Q&A with Kevin Quick
BP: First of all, congratulations on being selected in the 3rd round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Can you describe for all the Bolt fans a little of what you remember from your draft-day experience.
KQ: On the day of the draft, I was actually at Mr. Donato's, my Salisbury coach, hockey camp in Milton, MA. It was late at night, and I was in my dorm room relaxing with some friends when I received a phone call from my family advisor who was in Vancouver. Receiving that news would make anyone happy and put a huge smile on their face obviously, but when I actually experienced that, it was so much more. Devoting your whole life to something and then seeing results from your work is a feeling you can't describe in words. I was extremely excited and nervous when I found out Tampa Bay drafted me. Being from Buffalo I didn't really know too much about the organization other than from friends who are involved in the NHL. I knew Tampa had a great, demanding, and intense coach -- Coach Tortorella. And from people inside the hockey world, all I have heard is great things about Coach Ramsay as well, and how he is a great coach to have on the defensive door.
BP: Also, congratulations on your commitment to the University of Michigan to play college hockey. In deciding where you would play college hockey, what was more important to you: the academic quality of the school or how well you thought the hockey program would help develop you for the professional level? Did moving so far from your native Buffalo make your choice to play for the Wolverines more difficult? And what were some of the things that attracted you to Ohio State, Providence, and Clarkson as alternatives to Michigan?
KQ: Deciding where to play college hockey was one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life so far. I am extremely happy and grateful to be going to Michigan. When I was first looking at colleges, the academic quality was more important to me and my family, just because I wanted a degree from the best school possible as a backup plan. Sports, especially hockey, are demanding and dangerous. One wrong injury and everything could be gone, and I wanted an Ivy League degree just to have it and be safe.
But then after going to the [Tampa Prospects] camp at the end of July, I got to see where I fit in with the other prospects and I came out of the camp with a pretty good feeling that I played well as an 18 year old being in there with guys up to 27. And talking to management and seeing where they thought I fit in down the pipeline, things really changed when I started thinking about college. I was looking for more of a balance between academics and hockey. I felt I wanted a very demanding hockey schedule to prepare me for the next level while still getting the best academics possible. I didn't even think or know I could play at Michigan until they told me they were interested. Growing up, it's always Michigan, Boston College, Minnesota, and Wisconsin where kids say they want to go and those are their dream schools. So getting interest from Michigan was like the feeling I had on draft day. And being from Buffalo actually makes Michigan the closest to my house when going via Canada, so my parents can get out of work on a Friday and get to my game by 7:30-8:00. The decision was still very hard, but I couldn't be happier right now.
I was attracted to the others because I am a huge fan of those school's coaching staffs. All those school's coaching staffs are very similar, and they're all great guys both on and off the ice. I mean I don't think I could have made my decision making process any tougher. These four schools are places I recommend any D1 hockey player to look at; they are great places, great schools and hockey programs with the best of the best coaches.
BP: Does the fact that you and your brother were both drafted by Sarnia in the Canadian juniors change anything for you in regards to your commitment to the Wolverine program?
KQ: No, not at all. I have no intention of ever going to the OHL. I have nothing against the OHL, I just think college is better hockey because it's older, faster, and stronger. The OHL is not for me; I am a college kid and will stay that way. Especially heading to Michigan, there's no way I would ever want to leave. I respect the OHL and the kids in it. One of my best friends who I have played hockey with my whole life, Pat Kane, is in the OHL and I'm glad that's he's doing well. I just want the college experience both academically and athletically, and I am very excited to be a Wolverine before any kind of pro career.
BP: The Tampa organization, particularly GM Jay Feaster, was fairly vocal in their attempt to persuade you to forgo your senior year at Salisbury Prep School and play a year of USHL before moving on to the NCAA ranks. In the end, you decided to stay at Salisbury. Can you elaborate on the reasons you decided to remain at Salisbury even at the risk of delaying your development as a hockey player, and in retrospect do you still feel like that was a good decision?
KQ: I stayed at Salisbury because I feel that Coach Dan Donato is a great coach and person to be around. I have learned so much from him both on and off the ice that has made me a better person since the day I stepped onto the campus as a sophomore 3 years ago now. Having a brother, Ted Donato, who played a very long time [in the NHL], and him being a pro baseball player and college hockey player at Boston University for Jack Parker, he is very demanding and a great coach. It's the same as the OHL vs. college thing. I don't know the USHL, but I do know that playing for Coach Donato would never delay my development as a hockey player or young adult. Coach Donato is the kind of coach every hockey player should have for at least two years in his life. He has so much to teach and offer about hockey and about life in general. I am very lucky to have been at Salisbury for three years with such a great guy. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Looking back on it, it was a good decision. I was able to play with my little brother this year for the first time ever. That's not really a good reason to stay, but still it was something I wanted to do and enjoyed. And this year, I learned to be even more dependable in my own end. This wasn't my most amazing offensive year, but I have gained so much on the defensive side during the course of this year. I feel I am an even more complete hockey player after this year, and that's not a bad feeling. Coach Donato and Salisbury have been very kind to me, and I can't thank them enough, I couldn't leave that behind my senior year.
BP: At the Lightning prospect camp last summer, you competed against a group of players that included a few professionals and a few prospects who have really distinguished themselves in juniors, and you performed well against them. How much different was the speed and the intensity of the forecheck in those scrimmages versus what you were used to in prep school and major midgets? Did any of the forwards you competed against, in particular, really standout or perhaps made defending against them difficult?
KQ: The speed wasn't too difficult to handle. I was able to handle it and adapt to it pretty well being that I play in a fast league. Not enough credit is given to Prep hockey in New England. It is a very fast league, and that is why most of the kids go onto college from the league and have successful careers. The speed was faster, but not so much where I ever thought I was over my head. It was very challenging however that the guys had quite some years of age and body weight on me, but I just had to play faster, think faster, and be smarter which turned out to work for me. [Blair] Jones and [Torrie] Wheat stood out the most to me, and Tampa Bay signed Jones this year which I think is a very good move. He is very skilled, and he has size too.
BP: Once you begin your NCAA career, the Lightning will be forbidden in funding your participation in their prospect camps and tournaments. Have you and your family discussed the possibility of paying your own way to future Lightning camps while at Michigan?
KQ: We haven't really talked about it much, but we would pay our way to future Lightning camps while at Michigan.
BP: One thing that both you and your coaches have recognized as one of the most important next steps in your development as a player is building size and strength. Is this something you plan to engage when you get to Michigan, or was this something you actively worked on during your final year at Salisbury Prep?
KQ: This was something I was actively working on during my final year at Salisbury Prep. It has been something I have been working on for the past three summers, and I have been getting bigger and stronger. This is the most important next step for me though, and I know Michigan will be very challenging about this as well, so I feel pretty good about it. I just received a workout program from Eric Lawson [Tampa strength and conditioning coach] as well. It's a day-by-day workout starting May 28th and ending September 13th. It looks very demanding and arduous, but I look forward to doing it and seeing what kind of results it will bring.
BP: In an interview last year for McKeen's you cited Sergei Gonchar as an NHL player that you try to model your game after. Red Line Report compared your game to that of Buffalo's Brian Campbell and we at Bolt Prospects note similarities in your offensive skills to Tampa's Dan Boyle. Do you still pattern your game after Gonchar, or are there other NHL players whose style appeals to you as the enforcement of the holding/obstruction rules continue to reshape what a successful NHL defenseman looks like?
KQ: I don't really know who the player would be I am trying to model my game after. I mean I have watched all three of them a lot this year, and they are all similar in the way that they have huge impacts on their team. And Dan Boyle was very exciting to watch this year. He had a career year. He was absolutely amazing; definitely one of the best defensemen in the league this year. I try to play like any one of these three, along with Scott Niedermayer. These four are stand out defensemen offensively and they are also sound defensively. Any one of them is what a successful NHL defensemen looks like, but I had a lot of fun watching Boyle play this year. He is special.
BP: Speaking of Gonchar, one of the facets of the game that he has developed since coming over to a young and developing blueline at Pittsburgh is leadership and mentoring, as he has taken on the role as one of the club's assistant captains. In returning to Salisbury as a senior, did you feel that you needed to have a leadership role with the team and particularly on the blueline? Do you feel that on and off ice leadership is a role that you want to assume at every stage of your career?
KQ: Yes, I did feel that. I knew I would be a captain of the team this year, and a three year veteran. So both being the captain of the team, and having the most experience on the blueline, I had big leadership roles with the team. I do feel that I want to be a leader at every stage of my career.
BP: If you could map out the next 3-5 years of your life and career the way you would want it to unfold, what would that look like? For example, do you see yourself staying four years at Michigan? Do you see yourself stepping off NCAA ice and straight onto NHL ice? Do you have a timetable on your hockey career goals?
KQ: I don't know what will happen in the next few years. I would like to stay at Michigan to get my degree and have that. If hockey has other plans, which requires me to leave early, and both the team and myself feel I can leave earlier then I will. I do see myself stepping off NCAA ice and straight onto NHL ice as long as everything keeps. If I keep getting stronger and am challenged at Michigan, which I know I will be, then absolutely I will feel more than confident making that jump. No one is sure of the future or what it brings, so right now I have my mind set on staying at Michigan all four years, but if I am progressing faster and it seems like the right move, then I will leave. But right now I'm looking at getting a degree.
I have no timetable on my hockey career goals. I don't feel like I need to rush to get to the NHL. I'd rather get there later, being a better hockey player and more mature person and having a long successful career than getting there too soon and blowing a lot of opportunities I could have had but rushed them too fast. I don't know what will take place within the next few years, but I'm not worried about it. It's not in my head. I'm just going to play and see how everything plays out.
BoltProspects wishes to thank Kevin Quick, Dan Donato, and Scott McDougall for their gracious contributions to this article.