Note: The Rockford IceHogs will be doing profile of several current and former players' experiences in the NHL Entry Draft this week. Over 58 percent of the IceHogs players in the last three seasons were drafted to start their professional career.
Rockford, Ill.- Most amateur hockey players projected to be drafted in the first two rounds of the NHL Entry Draft spend draft day at a site chosen by the league, waiting in a room with their peers just to hear their name called. But that was not the draft day experience for Nathan Davis.
The IceHogs center was not even in the same city where the draft was taking place. Instead, on July 30, 2005, Davis was back on campus at Miami (Ohio) University getting ready for the upcoming school year.
“I kind of had an idea that I was going to go in the middle,” Davis said. “I watched the first two rounds, two and a half rounds. And, I don’t know, I had things to do. I don’t remember what I was doing that day, but I remember that I kind of left and was running errands.”
Davis was the Chicago Blackhawks 54th overall pick in Round 2 of the 2005 draft. The selection meant Chicago had three years of exclusive rights to Davis, during which time he continued to play at the college level. He received the official phone call from the Blackhawks after already hearing the news.
“The team called later that day. I think it was one of the scouts from Chicago, it was Ron Anderson,” Davis said. “He was the regional scout from where I had been playing and he just kind of called and that was like the official thing.”
But Davis was not the only player drafted in 2005 who did not have the typical draft day experience. The 2005 draft, held in Ottawa, Ontario, took place a whole month later than usual thanks to the 2004-05 lockout and the following scramble to reach a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“I was the first year after they locked out, so my draft was obviously a bit different,” Davis said. “They usually hold it earlier in the summer, so we were kind of waiting around. And then they finalized negotiations after that lockout year and then I think they threw it together last minute.
“They didn’t really do the TV show or any of the stuff that they normally do. I think they invited a smaller group of guys, the pretty much consensus first-round picks."
The smaller group of players invited to the draft was not the only difference that year, though. Davis and his fellow 2005 picks were also the first group to be drafted under the new entry level system, so contracts had changed and new rules were in place.
Despite the season-long lockout, Davis was confident the draft would happen.
“I think we had a pretty good idea going into that summer that they weren’t going to lock out for two years, so I mean we kind of knew that it was going to take place at some point over the summer.” Davis said. “Scouting was pretty normal through most of that year, but it was definitely a little bit weird. They had locked out and a lot of guys had weird stuff contract wise and a lot of uncertainty with what was going to happen.”
“I don’t even think my agent really understood all the changes at that point.” Davis added. “They made a bunch of new rules and everybody was still kind of scrambling to figure out what the new rules were going to be.”
Davis played at Miami University in 2004-05. Coming out of the college ranks meant a whole new set of rules, too. But being a college athlete also had some advantages for Davis.
“The nice thing for me, as opposed to some of these guys, being in college I knew no matter where I got drafted I could stay in college for another two or three or four years and leave whenever I wanted to,” Davis said. “The stress level for the college guy I don’t think is as high as for some of the major junior guys.”
On April 11, 2008, Davis signed a two-year entry level contract with Chicago after playing four seasons at Miami. Looking back, there’s only one thing he would change.
“(I would) score some more goals in high school,” Davis said.
Buffalo Wild Wings Draft Party: Join the Rockford IceHogs at Buffalo Wild Wings on East State Street in Rockford for the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The event features drink specials, prizes, trivia and an appearance by the Fire & Ice girls squad.