Garnet Hathaway didn't get an NHL contract right out of college, so he played his way into one in the AHL.
"If there is one deserving guy of it," coach Ryan Huska said, "he's for sure him."
After Saturday's game, Hathaway signed first first NHL contract, an entry-level deal with Calgary. What makes the rookie winger so deserving?
"I take a lot of pride in my fitness and my work ethic," Hathaway said. "I think I came into the season ready to play."
Huska put it simply: everything.
"He's probably consistently our hardest working guy," Huska said. "You'd have to put him in the category of one of our most valuable players over he course of the season. It says a lot about a guy's character to come in an earn a contract."
You have free articles remaining.
Huska pointed out that sometimes players on AHL contracts can have a hard time working their way up the depth chart because of the perception they're automatically below those on NHL contracts.
Hathaway, however, made the coaches' decisions easy. He is hard on the forecheck, creates turnovers, then heads to the net. Coaches knew they'd track and chase down pucks and then return to the net.
Max Reinhart, who has spent a lot of the season on a line with Hathaway, stressed that the winger does the little things on the ice, "the things not every player does." He echoed Huska that Hathaway's work ethic is "second to no one in that room."
Hathaway's biggest strength is winning puck battles. It all comes back to his effort.
"I just knew what I had to do to get the next deal," Hathaway said.