Following an impressive season with the QMJHL's Victoriaville Tigres, center Phillip Danault returned to Chicago for his second prospect camp. The Quebec native, who the Blackhawks selected 26th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, ranked second on his team with 54 assists in 2011-12, to go with 14 goals. Following the end of the Tigres' season, he joined the AHL's Rockford IceHogs for seven games, recording his first two professional assists.
chicagoblackhawks.com spoke with Danault after his second day of prospect camp to discuss his season, his Tigres teammate and fellow Blackhawks draft pick Brandon Whitney, and more.
How would you rate your season in Victoriaville?
We had a good season overall, but during the playoffs we took a step back. It’s alright – part of the game. But during the year, we won the Luc Robitaille Trophy [given to the QMJHL’s highest-scoring team], and we had a lot of talent. It was a good year.
Is prospect camp a little easier this year, knowing what to expect after last summer?
Everything is going well, I think. We practice like last year, we try to get better. I feel more confidence after my first camp last year. I’ve got a lot of players around me, and they’ve been great. I’m the only real French guy here, so everyone’s nice to me [laughs].
You may be the only native French speaker here, but your teammate from the Tigres is here with you: [2012 draft pick] Brandon Whitney. Does it help to see a familiar face coming in from day one?
For sure. I was the “kid” last year, at my first camp like he is now, so I’ve been trying to take charge and help him in his first camp now.
What’s your scouting report on him?
He works very, very hard. He’s probably one of the biggest goalies I’ve ever seen. If there’s a rebound, he’s probably going to stop it – we’ve tried in practices, and he’ll stop the shots after the fourth, fifth, sixth rebound. He’s always going to try and stop it. He always wants to step up and be better.
How different was it to join the IceHogs at the end of the season?
It was very different for me. The was a big transition for me – everybody is more mature and have more power in their shot. They are strong in the corners. It gave me something to work toward.
What are some of your goals for this camp? Is there something you want to have improved at by the end of it?
I don’t really have a goal in mind – I just want to work hard every day. I want to walk away a little better than I am now. My strength is one place where I can improve. We’ll see tomorrow – I’m really excited for the scrimmages to begin tomorrow.
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