“Five For…” is a Q&A feature with NHL Draft eligibles that touches on their lives and careers leading into the 2020 NHL Draft. This edition features forward Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Jake Neighbours took a big step forward this season.
After collecting 11 goals, 13 assists, and 24 points in 2018-19 for the Edmonton Oil Kings, the left-winger nearly tripled his production in 2019-20. He finished the season with 23 goals, 47 assists, and 70 points in 64 games.
FCHockey’s No. 45-ranked prospect in their Final rankings, Neighbours was looking forward towards the 2020 NHL Draft, but like all the draft-eligible prospect, he’s been forced to play the waiting game.
“It definitely is hard,” Neighbours said. “I think it’ll be a lot easier on us if we had a date that we could set our eyes on and look forward to, but as of right now we don’t really know when that is. There’s a little bit of frustration going in there for sure.
“We don’t know when it’s going to happen, but that accomplishment whenever it may happen at the end of the day is second to none. We’re just excited for the day to come.”
FCHockey recently caught up with Neighbours:
FC: How are you holding up with the uncertainty around the draft?
JN: “I’m doing alright. Life here in Calgary is pretty busy, obviously, in terms of an online combine going on and trying to stay in a routine in terms of working out and staying healthy. I’m doing alright. It’s obviously not the best times right now but we’re doing good.”
FC: What does day-to-day life look like for you right now?
JN: “Usually it’s a wake-up, have a meal, head over to (Ozzy) Weisblatt’s garage. We have a gym set up in their garage. I’ll hit a Crash Conditioning workout and after that get a meal in and do a couple interviews is how the day works. After that I’m free to do whatever. If the weather’s nice we’ll play spike ball or football or soccer in the field. For the most part, the morning slash early afternoon is pretty consistent from day-to-day.”
FC: Is it hard to stay on top of your fitness right now based on the limitations right now, and in terms of motivation?
JN: “You can look at it as either a disadvantage or an advantage and I think we have a lot of free time to do stuff that we can improve upon on our game and do lots of training. We’ve been very fortunate that Crash has hooked us up with some gear to put in Ozzy’s garage and we can do workouts there. We do a lot of sprinting in the field. Lots of free time to get some stuff done that maybe you wouldn’t have in a normal summer, so maybe a little extra development is going on.”
FC: What did you like about your season and where did you see the areas you still feel you need to improve?
JN: “Over the season, I think being a second-year player I’m a lot more comfortable in the league and that helps out tremendously in terms of improving my game and my production. I was very happy with my season in terms of being a consistent player for the most part. I thought consistency was one of my strong aspects this year. Obviously there’s tons of things you can improve on as a player and everything needs improvement, but two things I’m focusing on this summer in the offseason is my explosiveness…my first three strides coming out of the gate, try to excel to top-speed quicker, and another thing is adding a bit more of a goalscoring touch and having both playmaking and scoring as a threat in my game. I think now I’m a bit more of a playmaker and I want to add that goalscoring edge as well.”
FC: What’s the interview process been like for you?
JN: “It’s been really interesting for sure. No other players have really gone through it like this. It’s a first experience for me and some of my buddies. It’s been really interesting to get onto calls and get to talk to teams and do your normal interviews you’d do at the Combine. It’s unfortunate you don’t get to meet some of them in person and shake their hands and really introduce yourself. It’s been good, for sure, and been busy. I’ve talked to lots of teams. It’s been productive. It just sucks we don’t get to do it in person in Buffalo.”
With files from Aaron Vickers