It’s been five years since Ryan Kujawinski was drafted but because of injuries, his development has been slow and a new wave of Devils prospects are looking to push him off the depth chart. A hat trick to open up the Devils Prospect Challenge might be just the thing to help Kujawinski gain his confidence and force himself back into the conversation.
Kujawinski was drafted by the old Devils regime of Lou Lamoriello and David Conte out of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry draft.
Since the time he was drafted, Kujawinski saw himself traded from Kingston to North Bay, turn pro, and deal with injuries and inconsistency issues that kept him from taking the next step.
The Devils have also gone from a team that drafted bigger players like Kujawinski who play a heavier game and rely on positioning and hockey sense more than pure talent to a team that places an emphasis on skill. With that in mind, Kujawinski knows it’s time for him to show the Devils what he has.
You couldn’t ask for a better start, could you?
Kujawinski: Yeah, that was a great start, obviously it was nice to get the win there and get the legs back into things, especially missing some time (in Albany) last year so, I was just excited to play and it was nice to get back.
Break down your hat trick goal for us:
That was a nice pass by Butch (Will Butcher), he froze the goalie pretty good and it was a pretty easy goal for me.
How did it feel getting back into the swing of things on the ice?
Good, really good. It was a good summer of training for me and I’m happy with the way I feel, so I just got to keep maintaining that and keep that going.
Do you feel any added pressure with so many young prospects vying for roster spots?
You obviously want to prove that for sure, but at the same time you don’t put pressure on yourself, you just want to have fun and play the game like you played it when you were a little kid and it’s kind of the same thing.
You mentioned your injury situation last year. How did playing for Stan Butler in North Bay prepare you for the adversities in hockey?
Yeah, he was a great coach mentally and on the ice. He was really good for my career, especially having a deep playoff run with them, gave me some experience and he played me in different situations and he was a great coach and a great guy mentor you.
Consistency has been the one knock against you. What have you done to make sure you stay consistent from a game to game basis?
I changed my training this summer and worked on different things like conserving energy on the ice and so I could have more energy and be more consistent every game, and I felt it worked tonight. I felt great.
Your line with Marian Studenic and Austin Cangelosi was outstanding tonight, looked like you had great chemistry all night.
I played with Cang (Cangelosi) at development camp and I thought we played well together. I didn’t get to play with him at the end of the season last year (in Albany) but right from development camp he’s a good guy to play with and a great passer.