Nate Clurman ’17 (Boulder, Colo.) didn’t have a clue that he had just been drafted by his hometown team, the Colorado Avalanche, the morning of June 25. The second day of the National Hockey League draft was taking place in Buffalo, N.Y., two time zones away. He was in Vail, just getting ready to eat breakfast when his phone started blowing up with text messages.
“It was pretty crazy,” Clurman said as his cell phone started buzzing. One of the first texts he received was from CMA teammate Jack MacNab ’17 (Indianapolis). “I couldn’t eat my food.”
A defenseman for the Culver Military Prep hockey team, Clurman was selected in the sixth round and was the 161st pick overall. He is the 24th CMA player to be selected in the NHL draft. A University of Notre Dame commit, Clurman is also a pick of the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League. He finished a camp with that team in Kearney, Neb., a week before the NHL draft.
Clurman knew there was a chance he might be drafted by an NHL team. The Avalanche had talked with him and watched him play during the year, especially while the Prep team was playing at the Nationals in San Jose, Calif., in early April. But, he also had contact with other teams, including going through interviews and filling out questionnaires. He had not done that with the Avs, he said. That’s why it came as a surprise.
Just 40 minutes away in Denver, the Avalanche have been Clurman’s team since he started playing youth hockey in Boulder nine years ago. And, while he has owned an Avs jersey for years, the number 78 jersey he put on last week during the team’s development camp was special.
“It was amazing. You always picture yourself wearing one,” he said. “Then, getting to actually put it on. You just can’t believe it. It just has more meaning since it is your hometown team.”
The weeklong development camp was an intensive session for the Avalanche’s draft picks over the past three years. Ranging in age from 22 to 17, Clurman was one of the youngest prospects there, having turned 18 in May. Most of the players were from college teams or the junior league programs. “They kept us pretty busy,” he said.
There was naturally a lot of ice time. There were also sessions covering the importance of sleep, fitness, and nutrition. The coaches and former players, including those he had watched growing up, stressed how much work each prospect would have put in to reach the NHL.
And, since he was the hometown boy who made good, Clurman also squeezed in an interview with The Denver Post. Then, when the camp was over, he had just a 40-minute drive home.