Wayne Gretzky’s advice to top NHL prospects: ‘Embrace every moment of it’

There will be an 2020 NHL Draft at some point, but for now the top hockey prospects will have to wait. As they continue training at home, five of the potential early-round picks joined Wayne Gretzky for a conversation during the latest #HockeyAtHome episode.

Alexis Lafreniere, Jamie Drysdale, Jake Sanderson, Quinton Byfield, and Tim Stuetzle took part in a video call with The Great One and were given this advice as they prepare to take the next step in their hockey careers.

“My advice to you is embrace every moment of it,” Gretzky said. “It’s the greatest game in world. To play in the National Hockey League is a thrill, it’s a pleasure, and it’s an honor. And when you think you’ve worked hard, you work that much harder because there’s nothing like being an NHL player. And if you get that early on in your mind how great the game is and everything that goes with it — the practices, the travel, the media — you’ll embrace it that much quicker.”

The 2020 draft was supposed to be in Montreal on June 26-27, but was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whenever it is rescheduled it will be held virtually. The next step is the NHL figuring out if It should take place before or after the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

The prospects then flipped the tables on Gretzky and got to ask him a question. Drysdale wanted to know if No. 99 played today who would be his most-desired linemates.

“There’s so many good players, that’s a tough question because you guys like [Sidney] Crosby and [Auston] Matthews and [Mitch] Marner and [Alex] Ovechkin, Connor [McDavid], and [Leon] Draisaitl” Gretzky said. “For me, probably Connor because of his speed, he would open up the ice, and Ovechkin because if we get him the puck you know he’s going to hit the net or at least have a chance to score, so, those two guys would be fun to play with.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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