BUFFALO – In the hockey world, the Drury name holds weight, so having those five letters stitched on the back of your jersey can be a blessing as well as a burden for a youngster like Jack Drury.
Drury’s uncle, Chris, is a legend in these parts. In his three seasons here, the former co-captain nearly led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup final twice, cementing his reputation for clutch play. The center also won the Cup in 2001 and scored 255 goals over his 13-year career.
Meanwhile, Jack Drury’s father, Ted, played more than 400 NHL games and, like his younger brother, represented Team USA at the Olympics.
So Jack Drury, a talented draft-eligible center from the junior United States Hockey League, said he’s “trying to create my own path.”
“Most teams know and I make it apparent,” said Drury, who could be a late first-round pick or a second-rounder at next week’s NHL Draft in Dallas.
Drury, 18, said he keeps realizing the importance of forging his own way as he grows older.
“I don’t think it’s been difficult,” Drury said June 2 after undergoing fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine inside HarborCenter. “My dad and my uncle have been so supportive of me, helpful to me and they understand I want to have my own path. It’s something that’s good for me and they appreciate it, too.”
He added: “The teams respect that and understand that.”
Of course, plenty of teams are interested in the 5-foot-11, 174-pound Drury, who said he spoke to 20 clubs at the combine, including the Sabres, who have the 32nd pick.
Thanks to a stellar second half captaining the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks, Drury roared up NHL Central Scouting’s rankings of draft-eligible North American skaters, jumping up to 27th from 60th.
“I got more comfortable throughout the year and production-wise, I was able to kind of step it up the second half of the year, so I’m sure that helps a little bit,” said Drury, who plans to play at Harvard University like his father.
Central Scouting’s David Gregory told the Times Herald Drury has turned his name “into a blessing.”
“His name recognition made people wonder what he was, and right away, (he displayed) how he thinks the game, how hard he competes,” he said. “Every aspect of his game translates to the pro game. I think he’s going to get there, there’s no question about it.”
Gregory said Drury, who scored 24 goals and 65 points in 56 games last season, showcased improvements in every facet in 2017-18.
“Which is what you like to see in someone’s draft year,” he said. “There’s things you have concerns about and you wonder what’s going to happen at the next level. He saw improvement in just about all of those, for me, anyway. So I like how he projects.”
Drury, who grew up in Chicago, said he enjoyed his time in Buffalo. While Chris Drury retired in 2011, his nephew found out Sabres fans remember his career well.
“You can tell how dedicated the fans are,” Jack Drury said of Buffalo. “When I went to the hospital for my (combine) testing, a lot of them all say how they know Chris and they remember him. So I think it shows a lot about how dedicated the fans of Buffalo are. It’s pretty cool.”