By Cory Smith, Niagara Falls Review – Ben Harpur is getting a taste of life in the NHL.
The 18-year-old from Niagara-on-the-Lake has spent the last few days in Ottawa training on and off the ice with fellow Senators’ draft picks and a few current NHLers at the team’s prospect camp.
It’s temporary, of course, but Harpur hopes to one day have a stall with his nameplate on it inside the Senators’ Canadian Tire Centre dressing room.
“The pace, there are a couple guys here who played last season, AHL guys and high end prospects,” Harpur said this week. “I guess this is a good gauge of where I size up against some of the top prospects in their system.”
At six-foot-six and 210 pounds, Harpur looks down on many of the prospects. But the big defenceman knows he has a long way to go after the Senators drafted him in the fourth round, 108th overall last weekend.
Ottawa management told Harpur he was a project, a player they hoped could crack the lineup in four years.
“The Senators obviously saw something in my game they liked, so go out there and play my game and don’t be nervous,” he said of the mentality at this week’s camp, which ends Tuesday.
It’s not easy, as Harpur and the other Senators’ prospects are at the rink from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
But the long days are worth it after sitting in the Prudential Centre stands in New Jersey waiting to have his name called last Sunday.