NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Top prospect Adam Fantilli, a center from the University of Michigan, spoke to the media Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's NHL Draft. Fantilli became the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award and is projected to be a top-three pick in the draft.
Fantilli lead Division I college hockey with 30 goals and 65 points in 36 games, leading the Wolverines to a Big Ten Tournament title and a Frozen Four appearance.
Here's what he had to say to the media:
What's it been like for you leading up to this process?
Fantilli: "It's something you've tried to look forward to your entire life and try to get to this point. Obviously, it's tomorrow now. We're all really excited. We're getting and we just want to see what happens but I'll try to sit back and enjoy it because I can't play another game now. You can't score another goal now. So you just kind of sit back try and soak it in and enjoy it."
What do you do to savor this once-in-a-lifetime moment?
Fantilli: "My family does a great job. Whenever I'm around them, everything just kind of decompresses, and [I] just get to be around that and be myself and just relax, focus on them, and hope and try and make sure they're enjoying the process as much as I am."
What have you enjoyed the most about this experience?
Fantilli: "I don't know. Probably enjoying it with my family and having them come to the [NHL] Awards with me [Monday] night. We all got to sit in a row and two feet away from me was David Pastrnak. And [his jersey] was the first jersey I ever bought being a Bruins fan as a kid. So being able to meet and talk to him and he was so nice to myself and my family. I don't know, just going through this whole experience with my parents and my brothers. It's been awesome."
How much did being at Michigan help?
Fantilli: "A lot, actually. I've been playing against guys that are 22, 23 years old, and being able to live on your own on campus and in a dorm and being able to meet people from all over the world was really, really cool. It helped me mature as a person and as a player."
Thoughts on the Blue Jackets?
Fantilli: "I watch quite a bit of hockey so I get to see those guys and where they're at and how they've been doing. Obviously, in Columbus, they've got a lot of Michigan guys out there, so that'd be great. It's not too far from home. They have a lot of young studs and veteran guys. I'm sure they're on a great trajectory as well. They had a lot of injuries this year, and I'd be excited to see what they have for next year."
What's your stance on going back to school or going straight to the NHL?
Fantilli: "It's more just waiting to see what the team says and then where I go and having that talk with them when that time comes."
Do you feel you could step into an NHL lineup right away?
Fantilli: "I try to be confident about it. I've tried to prepare myself my entire life for this moment. And hopefully, if that's the decision that's made to try and step in, I'd be able to have an impact and be the type of guy that I want to be. But if the decision is to go back, I know I have other areas of my game that I can still work on and try and polish so I think there's pros to both sides of it."
Where can you get better?
Fantilli: "Just trying to become a more poised [and] smart player and elevate my game and every other situation that I possibly can. I want to be the best version of myself I can be when the time comes to step into the NHL.
When you're at Michigan, there's a loaded roster with guys who got drafted and are going to play in the NHL. How has that prepared you for the next step in your career?
Fantilli: "All the other guys at Michigan are amazing with advice and I've played with a lot of guys that were drafted and the first round and guys that weren't drafted at all. So you're able to see both sides of the spectrum and get good advice from both sides of it. And guys that have moved on and alumni are always amazing with coming back and being able to talk to them and get their perspective. So I think being able to talk to all those guys has prepared me really well."
This year you won a Big Ten Tournament Championship, a World Junior Championship, and a World Championship. What do you take away from those three titles?
Fantilli: "The amazing guys I got to play with. It was awesome. I've played with so many different guys and so many different talent levels and being able to learn from every different type of guy there was, was awesome, and getting everybody's perspective was really, really cool. But then also learning the importance of everybody's job and everybody's depth and how important it is to have everybody doing their assignment properly is something that I really learned deeper in those tournaments and in those playoffs."
Will the Ducks pass on Fantilli? If so, will the Jackets take him? We'll find out Wednesday night.