Brady Vail: a Habs' prospect from Florida
Published Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:08PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:50PM EDT
MONTREAL - Florida doesn’t export NHL prospects but Habs’ prospect Brady Vail is a rare exception.
Vail, drafted 94th overall in the recent entry draft, actually learned to skate on wheels.
Only when the 6’1”, 190 lbs, 18-year-old Vail got a hockey stick did the idea of ice hockey start developing in his head.
“My uncle got me a hockey stick one year for Christmas,” said the young Centre. “That's how it started. I fell in love with it. I couldn't put it down. From there on, I just improved really.”
When he first donned ice skates at age nine, Vail didn’t even know how to stop.
Getting to a rink was also a challenge from his home in Palm City.
“There is only one and it was an hour and 15 minutes away. That’s kind of how i got into it. It was a drive but it was worth it. It was kind of hard to transition,” he said.
The transportation and braking issues didn't stop him, however.
“The stopping was harder. You don't stop in roller hockey. That took a while. But once I got that down, I felt more comfortable and had a lot more fun on the ice.”
After three years in the Detroit Compuware youth program program, Vail ended up playing Juniors for Waterloo. The late-bloomer had been pegged by at least one scouter as a possible first round draft choice.
“I had him at 19,” said scout Rick Springhetti. “The reason I thought he was a really good pick at 19 is he has a high hockey IQ This is a guy who started to play a little later than a lot of people starting to play at 10, so there's a lot of development that can still happen. When somebody picks up a game that fast you know he's thinking it very well. He can pass and shoot the puck well. He's going to have to improve his skating ability, especially his lateral mobility. But there's time for that.”
Vail was just happy to get chosen, even though he had heard the chatter that he might be picked sooner.
“I was projected to go a little bit higher than I did. It's not a big deal. The draft is the draft. It is a good experience and all, but it is after the draft and how hard you work. That's what I’m focusing on and hopefully improve a lot in the next couple months."
Vail will go back to Windsor to play for the Spitfires to build on what was a strong season of 52 points, including 20 goals.