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Edmonton Oilers prospect Matt Copponi on the experience of getting drafted

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Photo credit:Jim Stankiewicz/Merrimack College
Liam Horrobin
9 months ago
The NHL Entry Draft is a special event every year. As fans, we learn the stories of the top prospects as they go individually in the 1st round. Typically, players taken are 18-year-olds going through the draft process for the first time. However, that is only sometimes the case. 
If a player is passed over in their first year of eligibility, prospects get a couple more chances to hear their name called. For some, it is used as motivation to achieve that goal, but unfortunately for others, the dream never becomes a reality. 
At this year’s draft, the Edmonton Oilers had limited picks available after sending them away in various trades. With two of their three selections, Ken Holland and his staff took two hopefully 18-year-olds from the OHL in Beau Akey, a defenceman from the Barrie Colts, and Nathaniel Day, a goaltender from the Flint Firebirds. With their third pick in the 7th round, the team went in a different direction with Matt Copponi, a 20-year-old from Merrimack College in the NCAA.
“It was a whirlwind of day,” said Copponi on his draft day experience. “It didn’t know it was going to happen. I’ve been through this process a couple of times now, so I went into it with an open mind. The second I got the call, my dreams came true. A whirlwind of emotions and a lot of joy and happiness came through.”
Copponi is competing at his first Edmonton Oilers Development Camp this week and said in his post-session interview that it was his first time in Western Canadian. After camp, he’ll return to his college in Merrimack for his junior season. In his first two, the Mansfield, Massachusetts, native has played 62 games scoring 17 goals and 38 points. 
Steven Ellis from Daily Faceoff stated that Copponi is consistently effective and highly competitive, giving it everything he has every shift. He could be a decent long-term project. 
When asked about his game, Copponi echoed those same thoughts, “I am hard-working, and I’ll do anything to win. Finding ways to win is my main thing, and doing things maybe not everyone likes.”
The dream of hearing your name called at the NHL Entry Draft won’t come true for every player. Copponi was fortunate to have that moment, despite being passed over in two straight drafts. 
Taking away whatever Copponi may be on the ice for a second when you hear him talk, you can see his commitment to being a hockey player. The odds of a seventh-round pick making it to the NHL is slim; however, if you have a mindset and determination to get there, you can accomplish the goal. Look at Vincent Descharnais, for example. 
“I absolutely love the game of hockey,” said Copponi about how he became so determined. “I love playing and putting my skates on (every day). Every day just going to the rink and loving what I do is important.”
“Never take anything for granted. This opportunity I have to be part of a great organization is something you can’t take for granted. Every day you wake up and this is a lifestyle and you want to be able to live this lifestyle. Learning the ins and outs, whether it’s in the classroom or the hockey rink or the gym just continuing to follow the lead of guys that have put their footsteps in front of you.”
The Oilers feel that same passion that we saw in his interview today, making it fair to assume that’s part of the reason why they took him. 
Copponi isn’t just some throw-away pick to get the draft over with either. Don’t be surprised if we see him will his way to the next level. If you are not convinced by what Copponi has said, we will leave you with this final quote from the Oilers’ newest prospect. 
“Once the previous two drafts ended, I just put my head down and went to work. That’s who I am and what I have been my whole life. I’ve been looked over a lot so I put my head down and continued work because I believe in myself. I believe I can do what I can do and make it. I have to continue to follow what I believe in and if that means going to the gym more or adjusting my diet I want to give myself the best chance.”

COPPONI’S CAREER SO FAR

SeasonTeamLeagueGPGAPtsPIM+/-GPGAPtsPIM
2021-22Merrimack CollegeH-East25369140
2022-23Merrimack CollegeH-East37141529308

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