Photo courtesy of Cranbook Photo and the Kootenay Ice
Brayden McNabb was a third round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres this summer in Montreal. McNabb is another big bodied defenseman that fits the profile of what the Sabres have tried to accomplish the past couple of drafts. McNabb was a third round pick by the Sabres but they stated publicly they had him pegged as a second rounder. He is a guy the Sabres brass expects to wear the blue and gold at some point in his career.
McNabb has had a breakout season offensively in the Western Hockey League. He has scored 16 goals and has 54 points in 55 games as a defenseman. He suffered a knee injury early in the season but that hasn't stopped him from piling up big numbers, including 98 penalty minutes.
McNabb has been a big part of the Kootenay Ice this season. After a bit of a slow start the team has played well recently and they are currently in fourth place of the Eastern Conference in the WHL. They have clinched a playoff spot and are hoping to make a run in the playoffs.
Follow the jump for a full transcript of the interview.
Things seem to be going well for your team in Kootenay at the moment. Tell us about the team and how well you have been playing.
Yeah things have been going well. We had a bit of a slow start but since we had a long road swing things have really turned around. We went on a 14 game winning streak and things have gone well since then. We have climbed up in the standings and we made it up to fourth place.
How do you see the teams chances going forward into the playoffs?
Yeah, I think we have a good chance. We have done well against the top teams during the regular season and I expect a good finish to the regular season heading into the playoffs.
This is your third season in Kootenay and improvement is always expected but in your case you have improved greatly every single season. What has been the secret to improving so much from season to season?
It takes a lot of hard work in the off-season. I'm really dedicated in my off-season training and it paid off in the beginning of the year. I like to improve my statistics every season and keep moving forward.
Everyone always wants to describe a player as a certain type of player. I have seen conflicting reports about your game with some people describing you as a two-way defenseman and others call you a a defensive defenseman. How would you classify yourself as a player?
In junior I am definitely a two-way defenseman. I get a lot of power play time here in Kootenay but if I want to make the next level it will be as a stay-at-home defenseman.
Injuries are part of the game and you suffered a knee injury earlier this season. It doesn't look like it affected your game based on your stats but what is it like coming back after an injury of that nature?
It hurt to be out of the lineup for a couple of weeks but sometimes it helps to sit out every once in awhile. It allowed me to see the game from a different aspect and for me it wasn't too hard coming back. It was more about getting in shape after missing time than anything else.
Let me take you back to the draft this past summer. The experts projected you as anywhere from a 2nd-4th round pick and eventually the Sabres selected you in the third round. What was it like expecting to be drafted and waiting to hear your name called?
It was definitely an exciting experience. It was a bit nerve-racking waiting through the 1st and 2nd rounds until eventually being drafted in the 3rd round by a great organization like Buffalo.
You mention the Sabres being a great organization but as a kid growing up as a Calgary Flames fan in Western Conference you probably didn't know a lot about the organization before being drafted. How much did you know about the Sabres prior to be drafted?
Not a whole lot to tell you the truth. Being out west we don't get to see the Sabres a whole lot but I knew (Tyler) Myers and Tyler Ennis and they were both drafted by the Sabres. That is basically all I knew about the organization.
Just weeks after the draft you were able to come to Buffalo for the prospect camp. You mention knowing Myers and Ennis, were they able to help you out at the camp?
Yeah definitely, they are both nice guys and whenever I needed help I went to them and they were able to tell me what I needed to know.
At the draft the Sabres mentioned they projected you as a second rounder and they were thrilled to be able to get you in the third round. Does that add any pressure knowing the organization thinks of you as a second rounder?
Maybe a little but not really. I think there is always some pressure after being drafted but I try not to think about it, I just try to play game in and game out the same way.
In conversations with other prospects that said the Sabres give feedback throughout the season on things to work on. Have they given you much feedback on things they would like you to work on?
Well they give us video clips of things that NHL defensemen do and they ask for my feedback. They give me a call every once in awhile but not too often.
The Sabres have obviously focused on defense in previous drafts and they have a number of young defensemen playing in Portland and a couple that have made the jump to the Sabres. Do you ever look at the players that are already playing in the organization and see where you fit in that system?
I definitely try to. The goal is obviously to get to the NHL and you try to do anything you can to get there. You are always watching what the other guys are doing but at the end of the day it's about dedication and you always want to be in the top six in the NHL.
Many players are very superstitious, do you have any game day superstitions?
There is a lot, too many to say I guess.
Thanks for doing this and good luck the rest of the season.
Thank you very much.
A special thanks to the Kootenay Ice for making the interview happen and also to Derek Zona from The Copper & Blue for getting the ball rolling.