Harris on NHL testing camp: « You have to be yourself »

Four years after having himself taken part in the medical and physical tests as well as the individual interviews held by the various clubs, the 21-year-old defender has a wise speech that could help calm the anxiety experienced by some.

« I feel like teams have been doing this for so long that they have to spot people who don’t show their true selves, so you just have to be yourself. From a team perspective, that’s what they’re hoping to bring out,” Harris said, during a recent interview ahead of the World Hockey Championship in Finland. “You have to do your best and really compete. They want to see our level of competitiveness. As long as we do our best, that’s fine. It will definitely be very exciting. It’s important to take advantage of it. It’s an opportunity to meet the best players in our age group and it’s a great opportunity. »

However, the Northeastern University alum remembers feeling a bit overwhelmed by events on the eve of camp.

It’s inevitable for young people, before they adjust and get into the rhythm.

“The most important thing is to stay up to date with our schedule. We receive a sheet with all our meetings and all the tests to be done, and that’s a lot. It’s a whirlwind. You see players that you’ve heard about all year through Central Scouting, and they’re all in one place, » recalled Harris, whose draft year included Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk and Quinn Hughes. “I remember being a little nervous walking into the meeting rooms because we had no idea what they were going to ask us. We want to show our personality and who we really are, so it’s definitely a little stressful, but it’s also really fun. »

The Haverhill, Mass., native says his NHL tryout interview with the Canadiens was « pretty short, » but he likely made a good impression.

His press conferences since joining the team last season have shown a level of maturity well beyond his years, and that maturity certainly showed in 2018 at Buffalo.

On the physical side, Harris had left his mark in several notable tests.

He ranked second in pull-ups, third in ergometer fatigue index for the exercise test, and eighth in vertical jumps.

“I think I didn’t feel too good after the exercise test. I was a little surprised, honestly. I did much better than I expected. After getting off the bike [stationnaire], I was full of adrenaline. When I sat down, it hit me all of a sudden. There was a room at the back for the players and it was obvious that everyone was in pain. There was a trash can in case one needed to vomit. I was just glad it was over,” Harris shared with a laugh. « On the other hand, for certain things like the pull-ups, I was like: ‘I really think I can finish among the first.’ I played lacrosse in school and practiced, on top of that, just to get ready and be ready. »

The one who stood out the most during the last NHL evaluation camp – held in 2019 – is actually a former teammate of Harris with the Huskies.

Canadian prospect Jayden Struble dominated the session, finishing first in five categories: bench press, medium power, standing long jump, right hand grip strength and left hand grip strength.

Tweet from @PR_NHL: Jayden Struble, a defenseman from St. Sebastian���s School in Needham, Mass., finished first in 5 of the 18 fitness tests at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas.#NHLCbine Top 25 Results: https://t.co/q1bJc7Y2iC pic.twitter.com/vOKvKx7sIc

Harris, who played three seasons with the rugged defenseman at Northeastern, wasn’t surprised by Struble’s performance in camp.

“He smashed everything. It’s a beast. Seeing the numbers for each test afterwards, I was like, « Wow! That’s impressive. » But after seeing him on the ice over the years and playing with him, that doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s truly a special athlete in every way, and it shows on the ice,” Harris praised. When he goes around the corner with someone, the other player bounces off him and ends up in the bay window. We’re like, « Wow! That’s it, Strubes. » He’s just like that. I’m like, « Good luck to the guy who’s going to check it. » He is an incredibly gifted athlete. He makes dunks on the basketball court, and everything; it’s the kind of thing you don’t see in the average hockey player. »

NHL Appraisal Camp runs through June 4 at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter.

Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes will hold a media availability via Zoom, live from Buffalo, at 12:30 p.m. ET this Tuesday.

The press conference will be broadcast simultaneously on the official Canadiens Twitter page.

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