Joseph Garreffa is putting in a big season.
He needs to when his stature is anything but.
But the 5-foot-7, 170-pound right wing isn’t letting that stop him.
The 2017 NHL Draft eligible has huge aspirations, after all.
“I would say I compare myself to Johnny Gaudreau-type player,” Garreffa said. “He just goes out there, and he’s not a big guy…not the strongest guy in the world, but he knows how to use his size and his assets to his advantage in the NHL. He does well every year, and he’s out there and gets open and controls the puck and finds open guys.
“I feel like I’m a guy who likes to handle the puck that’s what one of my strong suits, handling the puck, skating it, trying to attack defenders one on one, trying to use my skillset to beat them and look for open teammates or just go to the net and bury one.”
Twenty-eight assists will attest to that.
The 17-year-old also has 16 goals through the opening 51 games of the season, well eclipsing the three-spot he had in his 41-game rookie campaign a year ago.
It’s a big improvement from the pint-sized forward.
“I came out this year and said just play my game, just be confident out there with the puck and think so far this year I’ve felt like I’ve had a good start for the first bit of the season and I’m confident,” Garreffa said. “I’m really happy with what I’ve been doing out there.
“I’ve just got to keep it up.
“I can’t get too complacent out there and try and think this or that I’ve got to dig down deeper and work harder to try and get myself better out there.”
Garreffa knows the work has to continue.
Questions will continue to follow him through his draft season, of course.
“They look at my size and, you know it’s a big factor,” Garreffa said. “NHL guys are big and strong, but I think I can use my size to my advantage, spin off guys, and use my quick turns and quick puck movement to get around them.
“I think I can get around that.
“For a guy like me, obviously I’m a smaller guy so I’ve got to work double as hard to get noticed…you play your game and if you work hard and are impressing scouts they’re going to look at you and say, ‘we’ll take a chance on the kid.’ I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
It comes from the advice of teammates who have gone through the draft process before.
They’ve been a big help.
“The biggest thing for me is never get too complacent,” Garreffa said. “Always work your hardest. You can’t be like, ‘I’m doing well.’ You’ve got to go-go-go, keep going, you’ve got to have a killer instinct, you’ve got to go out there and every time you want the puck, you want to be the guy, and that’s a big thing a lot of people have been telling me.
“I’m trying to get that engrained in my head, and I’ve jut got to keep going.”
Big things will follow if he does.
With files from Dylan Galloway