Growing the Game’s Best Talent: Eric Florchuk
Produced by the WHL in partnership with BC Tree Fruits, “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” is a multi-part series highlighting the next generation of WHL stars set to embark on a journey pursuing NHL dreams. “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” can be seen monthly at WHL.ca, featuring a key member of the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft Class. Together, the WHL and BC Tree Fruits are “Growing the Game’s Best Talent.”
There is no question that June has been a crazy, yet memorable month for Saskatoon Blades forward Eric Florchuk with high school graduation, the NHL Scouting Combine, and the upcoming NHL Entry Draft all within a few short weeks. While there are many possibilities of where he will be selected in the NHL Draft, The Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. native keeps his mind off things by preparing for another event that he is mixing in with his busy schedule.
Most people know of the IIHF World Junior Championship that is played in December and January each year, but few know of the World Juniors that occur in July. This year, Florchuk will be travelling to Newfoundland to represent Team Canada at the World Junior Ball Hockey Championships. He’s represented the red and white once before as well, playing for team Canada at the U16 International Street and Ball Hockey Federation junior championship in Sheffield, England.
“I didn’t expect it to go this far, but it has been a fun time,” Florchuk said of his quick career progression in the summer sport. “I actually started because a buddy of mine from Bantam [hockey] asked me to come out and have some fun with him for a few games. I started to really enjoy it and ended up going to Nationals [before qualifying for Worlds].”
With the NHL Draft and Worlds approaching, Florchuk’s performance at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo N.Y. is still fresh in his mind.
“The experience was really good” said Florchuk. “[My] main goal was to enjoy the experience and build from there.”
Florchuk did just that, enjoying his time and testing extremely well in the different physical tests prospects at the combine participate in. The Fort Saskatchewan native ranked third in the Squat Jump, sixth in the Wingate Test – Mean Power Output, seventh in the No Arm Jump, and eighth in the Wingate Test – Fatigue Index. This gave him four top 10 finishes and seven top 25 finishes, an impressive feat considering there were 104 players featured in this year’s combine. While his performance was good, the Blades forward has instead looked to the events where he can improve.
“The [tests] that I maybe didn’t do so well in is [something] I can look to improve over the summer.”
Physical testing isn’t the only aspect of the NHL Combine as it also acts as a gathering point for NHL GM’s and scouts, giving them an opportunity to meet the upcoming draft class and determine the type of player and person they will be selecting.
“The thing I liked most about the interviews was that I got feedback,” said Florchuk. “Each team told me the things I need to improve on and it was almost the same from everyone. They want me to be more consistent; bring that ‘wow’ factor every night and still play a responsible 200-foot game.”
Florchuk has taken that feedback and has been working hard in preparation for next season with the Blades.
“I definitely want to get into the playoffs this year. It’s been a while since [the Blades] have been in [the WHL Playoffs], so that is definitely a goal of ours,” the Blades forward said. “For myself, I don’t try to make goals before the season. Obviously, you want to improve upon your previous season, but you just have to take it game-by-game and not get too far ahead of yourself.”
Florchuk hopes to find rhythm this year, heading into his first full season as part of the Blades core.
“Switching teams mid-season is never easy, but it definitely helped that a good friend of mine (Kirby Dach) is here and having a leader like Evan [Fiala] to push me in the right direction.”
Florchuk was traded 43 games into his season with the Victoria Royals after posting 28 points (7G-21A). Upon arriving in Saskatoon, his offensive production increased, scoring nine goals and recording 21 points (9G-12A) in 28 games. With the departure of Saskatoon’s overage players Braylon Shmyr and Evan Fiala, there are some gaps in the lineup that will ensure top-six minutes along with an increased leadership role for Florchuk.
While it is clear that the Blades forward is skilled in both ball and ice hockey, it’s unclear what position he will be drafted at or what team will call his name this coming weekend in Dallas. For whatever team it is, Florchuk is ready to prove his worth.
“It will be interesting to see what happens on [draft] day as anything can happen, and I won’t know until then, so I try to keep my focus on what I know and what I can control, like Worlds and next season with the Blades.”