It’s been nearly a month since Nate Danielson’s NHL dream came true and it still hasn’t quite settled in.
The 18-year-old from Red Deer was taken ninth overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville.
He told The Advocate the whole draft experience was a great time for him and his family.
“To get drafted by the Red Wings and hear [general manager] Steve Yzerman call my name it was pretty surreal,” he said.
“Just the history that they’ve had with such great players go through there it’s cool to be a part of that.”
The selection was also a historical moment for the city of Red Deer. He became the first from the community to be drafted that high since Glen Wesley was taken third overall by the Boston Bruins in 1987.
He was surprised to be taken that high but felt he had a great interview with the Red Wings during the NHL combine.
Following the draft, Danielson joined his fellow draftees and prospects at the Red Wings development camp in Michigan which was five days long.
Danielson spent plenty of time on the ice developing his skills and learning from experienced coaches. He also got to meet members of the organization and got acquainted with the local media. The camp also wrapped up with a three-on-three tournament.
“It was really fun. Just to get to go down there, see their facilities, and get to meet a lot of the people there was a lot of fun,” he said.
“Also, learning through skills work and power skating and a lot of off-ice work too. It was a really great week.”
At the end of July Danielson will head back to Detroit to get settled in before training camp where he’ll compete for a roster spot.
Danielson explained the Red Wings have not indicated whether he’ll be playing for their American Hockey League affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins or if they’ll send him back to the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings where he’s spent the last three seasons.
They’ll talk about that more once training camp starts where they can further evaluate his development.
“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Being in Nashville was a really cool week but having my family there too it was nice to be able to spend some time with them,” he said.
“Detroit was a lot of fun and I had a really great week. I signed with the Red Wings a couple of days ago so that was a pretty cool moment to sign my first NHL contract. It’s something I’ve dreamed of ever since I was young.”
Danielson’s offseason is spent here in Red Deer working with trainers both on and off the ice. He said he’s been fortunate to have great coaches ever since he started playing hockey.
“I want to get stronger every summer and I’ve been trying to put on a little bit of weight… Also just getting a little bit quicker and more explosive.”
After playing years of minor hockey in Red Deer and in Alberta Danielson was selected fifth overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2019 WHL Prospects draft.
He’s spent the last three seasons with the organization and in the 2022-23 campaign, he posted career highs with 33 goals and 45 assists for 78 points.
“The staff there have been amazing. Development wise they’ve been really good with helping me learn new skills and being able to advance my game… I owe a lot of my success to them for always having them as a resource to get better year after year.”