St. John's native Clark Bishop swept up in Hurricanes draft winds
Clark Bishop got swept away by Hurricanes over the weekend, and couldn’t have been happier.
Bishop was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday in the fifth round of the National Hockey League’s 2014 Entry Draft in Philadelphia, ending what was admittedly becoming a bit of a stressful experience for the 18-year-old from St. John’s.
“Yeah, I was getting pretty nervous just sitting there. It was a pretty good test of my patience,” he said of his wait at the Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia, where the draft was conducted Friday and Saturday
“But then to hear my name called, what an unbelievable experience. You know what? It made everything I’ve been through in hockey — not just the wait (at the draft) — worth it.”
And it was an experience that carried a welcome hangover.
“I was just telling my dad that a day later, it still felt like a dream to be able to say that I’ve been drafted into the NHL,” said Bishop Sunday, as he prepared to travel back to St. John’s.
A six-foot-one, 185-pound centre with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Bishop was the 127th overall selection. He had been ranked 104th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service (CSS) heading into the draft, but considering that list didn’t include goaltenders or European-based players, it can be said that Bishop probably exceeded CSS’s expectations.
Even then, the Hurricanes — who were one of 17 teams to interview Bishop at the NHL Scouting Combine in early May — feel they got a bargain.
“He was a bit of an under-the-radar guy. We had him a lot higher on our list than where we took him,” Tony MacDonald, Carolina’s director of amateur scouting, told Michael Smith of carolinahurricanes.com
“He’s a good skater and has a great attitude. We like what he brings to the table with his energy, skating and skill.”
In fact, Bishop represents somewhat of a change in policy by the Hurricanes, as they hadn’t drafted a player out of the QMJHL in the last five years.
Bishop had 14 goals and 33 points for Cape Breton last season in his second major junior season. He also played for Canada’s gold-medal winning squad at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament last August, and was part of the Canadian entry which claimed the bronze medal at the 2014 world under-18 championship in Finland.
While he posted modest offensive numbers for the Screaming Eagles last season, Bishop has two more years of junior eligibility in which to improve his stats line in the QMJHL. What’s more, he’s already recognized as a solid defensive forward with leadership qualities — he was an assistant captain for Cape Breton as a 17-year-old and was named winner of the team’s year-end award for outstanding work ethic.
Bishop will attend the Hurricanes’ prospect camp in Carolina in late July, and the team’s rookie camp in early September. From there, it will be determined whether he’ll get an invitation to the ‘Canes’ main camp.
In the meantime, he’ll resume off-season training in St. John’s under the direction of Bob Thompson, and continue to absorb all that happened over the weekend.
“To go from that nervousness as the picks go by, to hearing the announcement that you’ve been picked, then just to be able to put on that jersey and get welcomed by everyone into the Hurricanes’ organization, it was exciting, everything I thought it would be,” said Bishop.
It was an excitement shared by his parents, Steve and Millie, along with his brother and sister and other family members who had travelled to Pennsylvania for the draft.
Bishop said there was an added bonus for his father — a well-known hockey coach in this province — in that he got to meet a number of former NHL stars who are members of the Hurricanes management group and coaching staff, including new general manager Ron Francis and assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour.
“Yeah, we were up in the (Hurricanes’) suite and he was talking to all those guys,” said Bishop of his father, who played high school and junior hockey in the city before taking up the coach’s whistle. “He was really enjoying himself and that made me even happier, if that was possible.”
Later on Saturday, Clark, his father, younger brother, Joel, and uncle Scott Bishop got to take in a Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.
“It was a nice, relaxing way to end things off,” said Bishop. “It was just one more thing that made the day a special one.”