I had the chance to jump on a Zoom call with Dylan Peterson, a center for the U.S. National Team Development Program. We chatted about his season, his family’s role in his development and he tells a funny story about the shootout. We also took a look at some video from this past season and broke down the tape.
Tony Ferrari: With the season coming to an early end, what is the feeling you’re left with when you think back on it?
Dylan Peterson: I mean, it’s super unfortunate but everyone’s in the same boat. A lot of teams and a lot of seasons were ended early. It just sucks for us because we had a real shot at doing well at the World U18s there. We were playing well towards the end of the season and we felt like we had a really good shot and we worked really hard up to that point so just to have it end early is really disappointing for myself and the entire team.
TF: The U.S. National Team Development Program is a unique opportunity for young players. There are often players on the roster from all over the United States including non-traditional markets such as Alaska, Texas, and California, like yourself. What’s it like being on a team with players from so many different backgrounds?
DP: It’s a super cool experience. Growing up, when I played in Colorado I played against some of those guys. We played on a travel team so I developed a couple of relationships with a couple of the guys. Then going to the team and meeting a bunch of new guys. One of my best friends, Hunter Strand, he’s actually from Alaska and its pretty cool hearing about Alaska. I was planning a trip up there and he was going to come to Ottawa and stuff like that. It’s pretty unique because we all come from different hockey backgrounds and different family backgrounds so it’s pretty cool.
TF: You mention family there, how has your family helped with your development to this point?
DP: Yeah, my family has been a huge part of where I am now. My mom, when I was growing up, she was a stay-at-home mom just because it was really hard getting me to and from practice. In Colorado, I loved an hour and a half away from the practice rink so she’d spend all the time driving me there, watching me practice, drive me back and getting back late at night and then do it all again the next day.
My dad, he’s just always been there for me. He’s always kind of had a plan. I remember when I was 10 or 11, we went and visited the old “Cube” in Michigan where the NTDP used to play and I just remember him telling me “I want you to play for this team” and six or seven years later, I’m on that team. It’s kind of cool that he’s always had a plan and it’s kind of working out.
TF: With the season being over now and it being your draft year, how much do you follow the coverage of the 2020 Draft?
DP: I try not to look at it too much. The draft, in a sense, is so unpredictable. You could be ranked anywhere in the second or third round and just fall or you know, you get picked in the first or you’re ranked in the second and end up in the fifth so it’s really unpredictable and out of your control. What you were able to do is already done now so there’s not much you can do at this point. So I’m looking at it a little bit but I try not to look at it too much because like I said, it’s so unpredictable. It’s obviously there and everywhere you look, you’re reading stuff.
TF: Once you are drafted, whenever the draft happens, you are attending Boston University in the fall, taking the next step in your hockey career. What would you say is your biggest strength?
DP: I would say from a young age I always worked on my skating. It’s something that my dad always thought was the biggest part of the game so I worked on it and I’d say my speed is definitely up there. When I get moving, I can get moving into the zone pretty well. And then I’d just say my playmaking ability. I’ve always been more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, so I tend to see my open teammates pretty well so I’d say those two things are my biggest assets on the ice.
TF: On the flip side, what do you have to work on next season at BU?
DP: I’ve been working a lot in the past year on my offensive precision, being precise in the O-zone. Whether it was getting a puck in a certain spot on the ice and then making sure it goes into the back of the net. I was getting the opportunities but I wasn’t finishing them so that’s been something I’ve been working on and will continue to work on.
TF: You have the rare combination of size and skating ability that teams covet at the center position. Do you see yourself as a center long term?
DP: It’s tough but I am fortunate to have played both. I really worked on playing on the right side for the past two years, it’s something that I do think helped my game a lot. I think because of my speed and I’ve learned a lot in the D-zone so I think I can be a really good center but it’s nice to have played wing for a couple of years at a high level so I know I can do it.
TF: Now I’ve got some video from this past season. This first clip is a nice assist by you on a Jake Sanderson goal. Take me through what your thinking on this play.
DP: So I picked that puck up out of the D=zone after (Landon) Slaggert made a nice hit. I got that puck with speed and I saw Ty (Smilanic) come up the right side and Jake (Sanderson) behind me. I feel like with my speed, I had enough speed to back those defenders off so I continued going and then I saw Sanderson behind me so I let that drop pass go and went to the net and Sandy’s got an unreal shot and he just let that thing fly and it was in the back of the net.
TF: So you have said you see yourself as a playmaker but you have a pretty good shot. Do you see yourself developing into more of a dual-threat at the next level?
DP: Yeah, I mean it’s not that my shot isn’t there, it is there. A lot of it is just a mindset. I am always looking for an open pass rather than a shot. As I’ve worked on over the past year, and I’m going to continue to work on, when I get into those spots not only thinking pass but thinking ‘shoot that puck’ so it’s definitely something I can do and become more of a dual-threat.
TF: This next clip is on the powerplay. You carry the puck into the offensive zone and then turn up before you get into the corner. Take me through your thought process with the man advantage.
DP: So I’m thinking on the powerplay that if we have the rush, let’s take it but in that instance, I was kept outside, up against the wall so I felt that if we set up on the powerplay we are pretty lethal. We have a lot of good skill on that powerplay with (Thomas) Bordeleau, Sanderson and Smilanic, and those guys. I feel like if we set the puck up and just take our time, whatever it is, we can take the full two minutes if we have to. I think we are going to score eight times out of ten. I feel like with all the skill on that powerplay, if we just set it and take our time, choosing when we take our chances and create high-quality scoring chances, that’s the best shot we have.
TF: I have one final question for you. I like to get players take on this because it boils down to a one-on-one battle. How much do you like the shootout?
DP: Yeah, that’s tough. (Smirks) I’ve always been pretty good at the shootout and then we did it in practice last year and I was alright at it but I’ve never had a set move and going in on the goalie, I could never make up my mind until the last second.
I have a funny story though from my U17 year. We were playing Tri-City I believe and they were one of the top teams in the USHL. We held them all the way to the end of regulation and it was 3-3 I believe. We go into overtime and then we go to the shootout. I remember, two of our guys go, two of theirs go and it was tied at the end of that and I remember coach asking me if I wanted to go and I was just like “… Nah, you should give it to someone else” and thank god we did because we went on to win it. (Laughs) I think it was Powell or Bordeleau and they scored and we won it. Now if he asked me again, I’d be taking that thing all day!
TF: I thank you for your time and wish you luck at the draft!
DP: Thank you for having me.
Thanks again to Dylan Peterson from the U.S. NTDP squad for joining me. It was a pleasure talking with him and I look forward to draft day and hope you land in a great spot for you and your development. Good luck at Boston University in the fall. I will have more interviews coming in the lead up to the draft and throughout the summer so keep an eye out for those!
You can reach me at @theTonyFerrari on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you and find out what you want to see from the team here at Dobber Prospects and myself. Whether it be NHL Draft related or you just want some information on your team’s prospects, we are here to help!
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