Saskatoon product gets look by Coyotes
WHL veteran with NHL deal remains focused on proving his doubters wrong
Lane Pederson loves to prove people wrong.
That, more than anything, drives him to get better as a hockey player.
Pederson was overlooked twice in the National Hockey League Entry Draft. He remembers it well.
“When I didn’t go after my 18-year-old (season), it was definitely a little discouraging at first,” recalled the 20-year-old Pederson, who is on his way to the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes’ camp after signing an entry-level contract early last October as a non-drafted free agent.
“I thought that I had a (2015-16) season (with 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points in 72 games) in which I thought I put myself in a position where I might be picked, but after feeling sorry for myself for an hour or two, I just made it my motivation, right?
“It’s what kind of pushed me to prove people wrong, so that I deserve the right to be drafted and I deserve where I am today, that I can play and I can hopefully one day be a professional hockey player and make a career out of it.”
Pederson, a Saskatoon minor hockey product, spent the past three seasons in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos, the Red Deer Rebels and the Seattle Thunderbirds, who originally took him in the fifth round, 91st overall, in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
Last year, Pederson attended Phoenix’s development camp and then rookie camp from there, impressing the Coyotes brass along the way as a bit of a revelation.
“I guess it was a bit of a surprise (to sign), but, having said that, I had been down to Arizona for training camp and I thought I had a really good training camp,” offered Pederson, a six-foot-one, 196-pound centreman.
“I showed well and I just kept proving and I maybe even surprised myself a little bit that I went a little further than I thought I would have had, getting a chance to play an NHL exhibition game. It was pretty exciting and a pretty cool moment for myself.”
The Coyotes hinted that a contract offer was a real possibility.
“They then informed me at my exit meeting that they were going to try and sign me in time, that if they could get a number back that worked,” recalled Pederson. “I was extremely happy and when (agent) Jason (Davidson of Thunder Creek Management) let me know he got a deal done, I was pretty excited. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, to date. It’s the biggest thing to happen to me and my hockey career so far. Yeah, it was super exciting.”
He said the Coyotes like that he’s a big, right-handed, two-way centreman and a smart player who makes his teammates better.
“They see a lot of upside in that,” said Pederson.
“They like my size (as a centre) and my ability to play both sides of the puck. I’m strong on faceoffs. I can be responsible in my own zone and I can chip in offensively.
“I can take care of my own zone, but I see myself as an offensive guy, too. I can contribute a lot offensively. I’m good with the puck and I have good vision and I can make plays for myself and my wingers around me.”
Pederson, who played in Saskatoon’s Bobcats zone, went on to play Bantam AA for the Generals under Scotty Owens and the Saskatoon Midget AAA Blazers.
What’s been the key to his development?
“Probably the people who support me, my family and my friends,” replied Pederson.
“I’ve had some down time and some adversity to go through, but I’ve always had people to help pick me up and encourage me and keep moving me forward. I think that’s been a key reason for my development as I keep working hard with a goal in mind. Every summer, I wanted to get better and prove people wrong that I’m better than people may think. It’s something that I’ve been doing most of my life in hockey.
“I’ve definitely proven people wrong.”
I’ve always had people to help pick me up and encourage me and keep moving me forward.
The Phoenix Coyotes like the fact Lane Pederson is a big, smart, right-handed two-way player who has the ability to make his teammates better. Pederson is on his way to the Coyotes’ camp.