Considered to be a first round pick in some circles, Stefan Elliott is now being called a steal after falling to the Colorado Avalanche with the 49th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Elliott is doing little to disappoint as he sits sixth in the Western Hockey League (WHL) in defensemen scoring, with 47 points in 52 games (going into February 5, 2010). Elliott took some time to speak with Mile High Hockey this week before facing off against the Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings this weekend.
MHH: How disappointed were you to not receive an invite to any of the Hockey Canada U-20 evaluation camps?
Elliott: "Yeah I was pretty disappointed, but at the same after it happened it was kind of like there was nothing I could do about it, the decision was already made. So I just try to go out there and prove them wrong every game and just, you know, play my best."
MHH: Do you think you have opened some eyes with Hockey Canada for the 2011 WJC team considering your performance this season?
Elliott: "I would hope so yeah, yeah."
MHH: Considering your success this season what changes have you made or what things have you learned over the course of the past year?
Elliott: "I think one of the...you know, I always see with time in the league, experience grows and things like that, but I think the biggest thing is just...I think this year I've done a lot better job of burying on all my chances and just creating more chances and opportunities for myself."
MHH: The Saskatoon Blades are one of the best teams in the WHL this season. How would you explain your success as a team?
Elliott: "Well I would say definitely, you know, the confidence as a group that we have. A really tight group inside the dressing room and you know we take pride in coming into games night in and night out, out working them, and we know that if we out work them that we have a good chance of coming out on top at end of the game."
MHH: How far do you think the Blades can go this year? Do you think you can make it to the Memorial Cup?
Elliott: "Yeah, we definitely have high expectations for us as a group and, you know, we are in it for the long haul. I think we would be disappointed if we weren't."
MHH: Did you interview or speak with Colorado prior to the draft?
Elliott: "Yeah I met with one of them in Vancouver."
MHH: How was your first NHL training camp experience?
Elliott: "It was a really good experience. You know you learn a lot, just coming in and looking at the...just the life of what it's like day in and day out for them. Just playing with players who have been in the NHL for years. Just seeing what it takes and all the little things like that."
MHH: Have you kept in contact with the Avalanche this season?
Elliott: "Yeah a couple of guys have come out to see me play now and then."
MHH: Do you keep in contact with anyone you met at training camp?
Elliott: "Well, I played U-18s with O'Reilly and Duchene. So, I talk to them now and then. I think that's mostly pretty much it."
MHH: Describe your game to Avalanche fans.
Elliott: "I like to think of myself as a two-way defenseman, but, you know, my strength is definitely the offensive part of the game; my ability to jump into the rush and create some extra offense from the back end."
MHH: What parts of your game do you feel you need to improve?
Elliott: "I would say probably....I think play more of an edge I guess kind of thing; like in the defensive zone too maybe. Like playing the body maybe more than I do, stuff like that."
MHH: How far away do you think you are from becoming a professional hockey player?
Elliott: "I don't know, like that's kind of up to Colorado. That's not really up to me. So, you know wherever they think I'll develop most, whether it be, you know, playing minor hockey, playing in the AHL or wherever they think I'll develop more that's probably the right choice."
MHH: Growing up, who was your favorite player?
Elliott: "Tough one. Scott Niedermayer...I guess."
MHH: Is there a player in the NHL that you would compare your style of game?
Elliott: "Hard to say, I would like to think that I play my own style of game. Maybe like Brian Rafalski."
MHH: What did it feel like hearing your name being called at the draft in Montreal?
Elliott: "It was amazing like something you dream about when you are kid. You know, to hear it finally happen, like a dream come true kind of. You know, just a big relief and a big weight off your shoulders. So, yeah."