In the past, I've had some...well, let's call them "fake" interviews with some people in the hockey world. This is not the past. Today, I am excited to bring you a first for DGA: something serious. This is the first Q&A with the Devils' 2nd round draft pick from 2008, who has recently announced that he will leave Michigan after his junior year to turn pro with the Devils, Brandon Burlon. Thanks to a friend, I was able to send him some questions I've always wanted to ask a young, up-and-coming hockey player. After hearing Burlon's answers, I am very excited to watch him, either in AHL Albany or NHL New Jersey next season. Enjoy!
If any, which NHL star of the past did you idolize growing up?
Bobby Orr, growing up in Canada and being a defenseman there are always guys who idolize the big hitters or the guys with the big shot, but I appreciated Bobby, because he didn’t do one thing amazing, he just did everything really well. He also revolutionized the game for defenseman.
Take me back to draft day. You hear your name called by the New Jersey Devils. What are your emotions throughout draft day?
I was obviously very emotional, after having my childhood dream realized, and having all my hard work result in something like that was the greatest moment in my life. It was a new experience for me, and I realized it was just one small step towards a bigger goal.
What effect did Red Berenson have on you as a college hockey player?
Coach Berenson gave me the opportunity to play at one of the best universities in the country and while his guidance on the ice helped me as a player, my experience with him off the ice helped me as a person too.
I know players don’t like to compare themselves to veteran professionals, but if you had to pick one current NHL player to compare yourself to, who would it be?
If I would compare myself to anyone it may be Tomas Kaberle. The way he skates well, moves the puck and seldom makes mistakes. I really like the way he plays and hope I can become the player he is someday.
DGA edit: Personally, I couldn't agree more with that comparison.
Two of your Michigan teammates were David Wohlberg and Jon Merrill, both also drafted by the Devils. Did you ever think about your pro-future in college? Did you ever talk to the other two about futures with the Devils?
No and yes, both of those guys are very serious hockey players, and were very determined to help Michigan win a national title when they got here, although that might have been in the back of their minds, they were very focused on the present goals at Michigan. Sometimes we have talked about how cool the idea of playing with each other for the next 10 years would be, but that’s about it.
What’s the number one thing you’ve learned playing college hockey and what’s something you regret during college as a player, if anything?
I've learned that there's always players and situation that are going to challenge you, no matter what level you play, and especially at the higher levels. I don't regret anything about my college career.
What made you choose college hockey over playing in a Canadian junior league?
For me, playing for St. Michaels, I had a great support group of alumni, and a lot of them said that there was nothing like playing college hockey, especially at a prestigious hockey program such as Michigan, so it seemed like the right path for me
At what point did you decide that you were ready to turn pro? Did you know entering junior year that you would turn pro before becoming a senior?
I made the decision based on many things, the possibility of injuring myself in college, having known a guy who made a similar decision, and the excellent opportunity I had with the Devils. My main decision came down to my talk with Nick Boynton (from my hometown Nobleton, ON) he called me and gave me some great advice and basically told me that I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity at playing in the NHL, and my family agreed with my decision.
What is your goal heading into your first season as a professional? Do you feel ready to try out for the NHL club?
Obviously I have very high expectations for myself, that being said, I understand how hard it is to make a team such as the Devils. I hope to play in the American Hockey League for some conditioning to prepare myself for the speed of the game, but I hope I can make the NHL roster by the end of the season. I feel that my 3 years at Michigan prepared me for the NHL, because I have had an extra 3 years to develop than other guys starting out of their draft year.
I would like to thank Brandon for doing this and wish him all the best as he prepares for his first season as a professional hockey player. Judging by scouts' feelings on him, it won't be long before he's playing for the Devils.