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Draft prospect Eiserman inspired by Matthews' Selke style


In his final game of the season – the gold-medal game against Canada at the under-18 World Championship – Cole Eiserman scored his 127th goal while with the US National Team Development Program. In the process, he broke a tie with Cole Caufield and seized sole possession of the all-time record.

As congratulatory messages poured in during the days that followed, Eiserman noticed that friends and family highlighted the star players below him on the NTDP's goal-scoring list, including Phil Kessel (104), Patrick Kane (84), Auston Matthews (79) and Jack Hughes (74). 

"It's something I didn't really notice at first," the 17-year-old winger said. "But then you look at it, and it is pretty cool and humbling to be able to put my name with those guys. They proved a lot more in the NHL and that's what I'm working towards."

Eiserman still has a lot to prove. He scored more goals – 58 tallies in 57 games – than any other top prospect this season, but actually saw his stock fall. 

He started the year at No. 2 on TSN Hockey insider Bob McKenzie's rankings, which is based on a poll of scouts. On the latest list, the native of Newburyport, Mass. is down to No. 13. The final list will be unveiled on Monday. 

"Obviously, you kind of see them," Eiserman said of draft rankings. "Definitely not going to go out of my way to look at that stuff, but you hear them, and you see them. It's something where you gotta keep the blinders on and just work." 

TSN director of scouting Craig Button calls Eiserman "the best goal scorer in the draft." So, why are teams wary? 

"Probably thinking of my overall game," Eiserman acknowledged. "That's what they're saying right now. There are guys who had a really good year this year and that could have something to do with it as well. Obviously, I can't control that. I'm just trying to be the best player I can be."

Eiserman appreciated the chance to make his case directly to teams when he had 23 interviews at the NHL scouting combine earlier this month. During a conversation with TSN, the 6-foot, 197-pound sniper revealed the case he made to clubs and explained why Toronto Maple Leafs centre Matthews is a good role model for him.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview. 

TSN: How do you feel about your season? 

Eiserman: It was great. I tried to do the things I do well, but also I feel like I really improved my overall game from the first game to the last game. I'm super proud of myself and proud of the uphill development of my game. 

TSN: Where did you improve? 

Eiserman: Being able to play every situation – defensively and offensively. Being able to play away from the puck and make more plays. I'm super excited for the future of [my development].

TSN: Where do you feel like you fit in with this year's draft class? 

Eiserman: I think I'm still top of the draft. Whatever happens, happens at the draft. It's really about what you do after you get picked, and I'm super excited for that. Whatever team gets me, I will work my tail off and hopefully do the best I can to help that team win. 

TSN: What was the most common question you faced at the combine? 

Eiserman: What would I do if I wasn't scoring. I told them that I'm going to still work really hard and be physical, be first on pucks, still get back on the backcheck, interrupt plays, block shots and do the things that are going to help the team win. And, obviously, I'll still use my skill to make plays and be like a power forward. 

TSN: How do you feel that answer was received? 

Eiserman: I think the meetings definitely helped me with teams understanding where I'm coming from and how I see the game and how I'm working to get better too. 

TSN: What was the toughest question you got?

Eiserman: Probably that [common] one, because it's hard to answer. Right now, I've been the shooter and a guy who's just scoring goals. That's what I love to do and that's what my team wants me to do and what's expected. So, it's tough when you're being asked if something that's been working isn't going to work. 

TSN: What makes you a good goal scorer? 

Eiserman: I love to do it so much. I love shooting pucks and the excitement of scoring goals. I'm just putting myself into spots where I know my teammates are going to be able to find me. The hockey IQ of it isn't talked about enough. You need to be in the right spots and need to be doing the right things to be in the spots and then let your shot and all the practice and work you've done with it do the rest.  

TSN: How did you turn your shot into such a weapon?

Eiserman: Just doing it whenever I could. You're on the ice or in the backyard and just shoot, shoot, shoot. And then watching the best players in the world shoot pucks and see what they do and try to put that in your game. 

TSN: Our Craig Button sees you as a Chris Kreider style of player. Who is your NHL role model? 

Eiserman: Obviously, I watch Matthews, but it's tough saying that because of who he is and where he is right now, but that's definitely a guy I can see in myself. Impact-wise, I really look up to Jack Eichel, a guy that can help a team win, but still put up points and be a top forward. And also, a guy like Matthew Tkachuk, who can benefit the team in a lot of ways, physicality-wise and scoring wise. But Kreider is awesome. He definitely scores goals when it matters and steps up his play when it matters, so that's pretty cool. 

TSN: You wear No. 34 like Matthews. What did you learn from watching him this season? 

Eiserman: He's unbelievable. Just the way he can score from in tight to the top of the circle is pretty cool. 

TSN: He was nominated for the Selke Trophy while scoring 69 goals. Can you take anything from that as well? 

Eiserman: Yeah, that's what I told teams, that's the player I'm trying to be. Hopefully I get to the NHL as a goal scorer while also being talked about in that regard too. 

TSN: Who else do you watch?  

Eiserman: I really like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos for the one timer. I watch guys like Elias Pettersson and Victor Olofsson too. Olofsson has a really slinging one-timer, which works really well.

TSN: What was your best goal of the season? 

Eiserman: Best goal? I don't know. I really liked my first goal against Boston University. That was pretty cool. I had a lot of family and friends there and it definitely was pretty loud, so it was cool. 

TSN: What goal had the greatest degree of difficulty? 

Eiserman: Hmm, what was tough? It was really tough to score versus Minnesota, probably. It was a bigger rink, really good team, and the goalie played really well. I scored one with three minutes left in the game. It was one of those games where you try everything and sometimes you don't score in those games, but I ended up being able to put one home. It was pretty tough to score in that environment. 

TSN: At the combine, Omaha Lancers goalie Mikhail Yegorov was asked about the toughest draft-eligible players he faced in the USHL. He said it wasn't tough to stop you. He pointed out he stopped every shot from you. What do you make of that? 

Eiserman: Maybe he was trying harder, if he really cared that much about me. He was talking to me a little bit about it at the combine. It was funny to see that. That's what I want. I want goalies to work harder and care a little bit more if I'm shooting the puck. It's one of those mutual respect things. 

TSN: You're both going to Boston University next season. I'm sure the practices will be very interesting. 

Eiserman: Next time I shoot on him, it's going to be a good one. 

TSN: Do you study goalies much? 

Eiserman: It's definitely something that's very important. I try to watch a goalie before I play them and see his tendencies and see what he does. Goalie coach David Lassonde at the NTDP was great with telling me stuff on the bench and giving me film on goalies, which is really cool. I like talking to the goalies on my teams and seeing what they see from their perspective and how that can help. 

TSN: What have you learned about goalies that you didn't know before? 

Eiserman: They can read your shot better than you'd expect. They can see it in your eyes. I'm definitely trying to make sure I'm not looking where I'm shooting, so that’s a very important thing that I've picked up. 

TSN: What was it like to catch up with your good friend and former Shattuck-St. Mary's linemate Macklin Celebrini at the combine?

Eiserman: It was really cool. I haven't seen him in a little bit, so he was in my room, me and Zeev Buium were roommates, and he was in our room all the time watching movies and we were being the same kids we were at Shattuck. 

TSN: You're writing a draft diary on and mentioned there was some wrestling

Eiserman: (Laughs) Yeah, we definitely get at each other sometimes and just start going at it. It's pretty funny. 

TSN: Who has the edge?

Eiserman: I don't know. Most of the time he just starts laughing, so I think I got the edge. 

TSN: What did you think of the season he put together? 

Eiserman: I was keeping track of him and texting him after every game. It was super cool. I mean, you win the Hobey Baker at 17, it's pretty special and that's Macklin for you.

TSN: Did he help you navigate your draft season? 

Eiserman: For sure. He's going to be a No. 1 supporter of me, so definitely feels good when you talk to him. 

TSN: What will you wear to the draft? 

Eiserman: I have a cool suit with some important stuff on the inside that I'm excited to show. 

TSN: Any details you can share? 

Eiserman: You guys got to see it when you get there. It's going to be four things that are very important to me. It's going to be something that's pretty different and family-related. That's the hints. 

TSN: And what about a walk-up song? Do you have one picked out for when you get picked? 

Eiserman: I do. I picked 'Different 'Round Here' by Riley Green. 

TSN: Why? 

Eiserman: It has some cool messages around it. Military is very important to me and just having that blue-collar side of me out there. It's a good song and definitely some morals in it, which are pretty cool ... I got two brothers in the military. Both my grandfathers served. I get to play hockey just because of the guys in the military. They do the hard work. I was able to wear the USA jersey but they're wearing the camo, which is way more important.