Skip to main content

Luchanko refuses to get caught up in his own NHL draft buzz


Jett Luchanko isn't getting caught up in the hype as the NHL Draft hits Las Vegas this week.

The Guelph Storm centre, for example, won't be wearing anything flashy when he walks up on stage after getting selected at the Sphere. 

"It's going to be a light grey suit with a red tie," he said. "Nothing really special. Nothing on the inside or anything like that. Pretty standard."

He did acknowledge the red tie is a nod to the Storm's primary colour. 

As for the walk-up song that will play when his name is called, Luchanko didn't even make his own pick. 

"I let my mom choose that one," he said. "She went with, 'Don't Stop Me Now' by Queen. She was going through songs, and she has good music taste. I liked it."

Luchanko will have "quite a few" supporters in the crowd, but isn't sure exactly how many. 

"I let my parents handle all that," he said. 

Luchanko's cheering section likely won't have to wait long. 

Luchanko came in at No. 19 on TSN Hockey insider Bob McKenzie's final ranking of prospects, which is based on a poll of scouts. However, McKenzie reports that several scouts feel Luchanko is picking up momentum and generating a lot of final-week buzz. 

"Someone to keep an eye on," McKenzie concluded. 

Does Luchanko feel like he has momentum ahead of the draft? 

"It's not really what I'm worried about," the 17-year-old from London, Ont. insisted. "Whatever happens, happens. It's not really going to change the way I do things and the way I look at it."

Luchanko clearly made a positive impression at the Scouting Combine earlier this month, which came on the heels of a strong international performance. He recorded seven points in seven games while helping Team Canada win the gold medal at the under-18 World Championship.

During a conversation with TSN, Luchanko broke down his breakout season in the Ontario Hockey League in which he produced 74 points in 68 games. He also explained why Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki is his NHL role model.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview. 

TSN: Where did you improve the most this season?

Luchanko: Off-ice things. I was proud of playing every game this year. I took a lot from my first year [when he played 46 games] and from guys with how they treated themselves off the ice. I played a good amount of minutes, so for me, it was how I treated my body. That was the biggest thing for me. 

TSN: What's one thing you changed off the ice? 

Luchanko: Every day I had to do something. On off days a lot of guys kind of just sit around, but I would make sure I would get some stretching in and exercising in ... I always got my work done pre-practice, post-practice and every game day as well. 

TSN: You increased your point total by 60 this year. What worked well offensively? 

Luchanko: I had a bigger role on the team, and I played with a lot of really good players. We had a really good power play and good coaching too, so I think, you know, I was just able to work with that and take advantage of that. They just made it really easy for me. 

TSN: Your name was all over the OHL coaches poll. You finished runner-up in three Western Conference categories: smartest player, hardest worker and best skater. Obviously there's a lot to like about your game. What's your best trait?

Luchanko: My speed. I think that's just kind of something I've always had and tried to use to my advantage. You pair speed with a high compete level and ... that becomes one of my most dangerous assets. 

TSN: How did you get so fast?

Luchanko: I've always been one of the faster kids but, at the same time, I've worked hard on increasing my explosiveness and quickness and things like that. I was always playing sports growing up. It's just always kind been a thing for me. 

TSN: You have a great name, especially considering how fast you are. What's the story behind Jett?

Luchanko: There's nothing really special about it. Everyone in my family has a J name. There's five of us and all with Js. My parents came across the name when they were thinking of J names, and they liked it. I'm glad they did. 

TSN: In the OHL coaches poll, you also finished third in the best shootout taker category. Why are you good in that situation? 

Luchanko: Just spending a lot of time outside playing road hockey and shooting on goalies and spending time with them after practice. Even just watching hockey too. It's something I've always been really interested in and something I always watch and have fun doing. I had a couple good shots this season. I think I was only about 50 per cent, but it's a fun thing for me. 

TSN: What's your go-to move? 

Luchanko: I don't know if I want to share that with everyone, but I got a couple moves. 

TSN: Who do you like watching? 

Luchanko: It all started with Pavel Datsyuk for me. He had so many really cool highlights, so I was on YouTube watching those before my games when I was younger. I was always inspired by that.

TSN: You tied London Knights' Easton Cowan for second in power-play assists this season behind only Saginaw's Owen Beck. What worked well for you on the man advantage? 

Luchanko: I really liked the guys I was playing with and the coaching we got. We had a lot of different looks and a lot of different sets, and everyone bought into that ... We moved the puck well and retrieved pucks well. We'd go out there and have fun with it. 

TSN: What's the biggest key to a good power play? 

Luchanko: The biggest thing is entering the zone and retrieving pucks. It's kind of something that no one really looks at, but to be able to have the puck and set up in the zone as much as you can I think is the biggest part. Everyone can find those passes and things like that, but to be a little gritty on the power play is the biggest thing. 

TSN: What was it like getting the tough defensive assignments most nights? 

Luchanko: I liked that. I like playing against the top guys. I think that's the spot I want to be in and something I really look forward to. I take pride in playing against a lot of guys like that. It's a place I want to be, so I was happy with it.

TSN: Who was the hardest matchup for you?

Luchanko: I think Cowan, probably. A lot of those London Knights guys were really good and gave us a tough time. So, I think going up against them was fun and challenging at the same time. I look forward to that. 

TSN: What was the biggest challenge against Cowan, in particular? 

Luchanko: He's just someone who's always working really hard, never really takes a shift off, is always on you and always on the puck. He's kind of got everything: speed, skill, smarts and especially that work ethic is what gives people a tough time. 

TSN: What did it mean to you to be voted the OHL's most sportsmanlike player? 

Luchanko: It was an honour to be put up with names that have won it in the past [including Connor McDavid, Suzuki and Wayne Gretzky]. It's a cool award to win and definitely an honour to be recognized in that way. I just try to work my hardest every shift and not really get involved in a lot of the stuff after the whistle. I just work hard within my game.

TSN: Who is your NHL role model? 

Luchanko: I would say Nick Suzuki. He's from London and played for the Storm as well, so I've always watched his game closely. He's someone I've watched a lot in Montreal. He does a lot right. The coaches can really trust him in all situations. He's someone that I always watch. 

TSN: What do you notice the most when you study him? 

Luchanko: He's a really detailed player. He has a really good stick and is good without the puck in terms of getting into areas and really good supporting the D and supporting the forwards as well. He's kind of everywhere all at once. That's the biggest part of his game that I like is just how detailed it is. 

TSN: You interviewed with 28 teams at the scouting combine. What's that like? 

Luchanko: It's not really my strongest suit, but it got easier as it went on. We talked to teams throughout the year, so I've definitely been getting more comfortable with that kind of thing. It's not really my strong suit. I kind of like to let my game do the talking. 

TSN: What was the toughest question you faced? 

Luchanko: There wasn't much too crazy. I think the animal comparison, that'd be the toughest one. 

TSN: Ah, yes, the Canadiens asked everyone what animal they are on and off the ice. What did you say? 

Luchanko: I was going to say a lion on the ice, but they didn't allow that. I went with a jaguar, which I thought is kind of similar to a lion. Off the ice, I said a shark because they always look determined and always moving forward.