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Top prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft have advice for young hockey players

Some of the biggest prospects in junior hockey give their advice to young players about sticking with the game and enjoying every moment.

USNTP's Gabriel Perreault skating in warm-ups before the puck drop.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

PITTSBURGH — Any hockey player you ask will tell you that hockey is the greatest sport there is. But what do you do when the going gets tough or you're in a slump? Some of the top prospects in junior hockey this year offered their advice for young players who are just getting started in the sport.

"I'd just say to have fun," said Oliver Moore, a forward on the USNTDP. "Enjoy it. I mean, you can enjoy it for your whole life but at those first stages of the career just really have fun with it, try new things within the game."

Oliver Moore Edited.jpg
Oliver Moore of Mounds View, Minn., is a top prospect eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

Having fun appeared to be a common thread among the players who offerered their words of wisdom. In a sport where players face increased scrutiny with each level of advancement, it's still just a game for them.

"I feel like they should just try their best and have fun," said Ryan Leonard, a forward on the USNTDP. "If hockey is something they really admire and want to do for their life give it a try and if not there's something out there for them in the world. Hockey isn't for everybody and everybody knows that but if you choose it you're gonna have fun with it and you're gonna love it."

Ryan Leonard of the USNTDP is a top prospect eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live
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"Don't give up," said Will Whitelaw, a forward for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. "Obviously there's a lot of ups and downs and some days you don't feel like doing it or you don't feel like going to the rink but those are the days that if you want to experience the highs you have to experience the lows."


Will Whitelaw of Rosemount, Minn., is playing for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

"Have fun and enjoy every moment of it because it's gonna go by really fast," said Gabriel Perreault, a forward on the USNTDP.

Gabe Perreault is a top prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft. Here he's playing the USNTDP in a game against the Omaha Lancers.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

"Keep with it," said Austin Bernevik, a forward on the USNTDP. "My story was being on the ice for the first time and I was crying and wanting to get off. You may not love it right away but it's definitely something you can grow into for sure."

St. Cloud State commit Austin Burnevik skating for the USNTDP at the 2022 Fall Classic.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

"Cancel out the noise," said Will Smith, a forward for the USNTDP. "Have fun out there and play your game and don't worry about what everyone else is talking about."

The USNTDP's Will Smith, a top prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft skating in warm-ups.
Kirsten Krull / The Rink Live

All five of the skaters in the article are eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, with a handful expected to be early first round selections.

Kirsten Krull covers juniors and prospects for The Rink Live. She is a 2020 St. Cloud State graduate, and has been working in the hockey world for over six years, covering many levels of the game from juniors to the NHL.
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