Sep 7, 2023

Drew Worrad has been in this position before. In March of 2022, Worrad wrapped up a successful collegiate career at Western Michigan University and became an unrestricted free agent. He made the choice, on March 30th, 2022, to sign a two-year contract with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. The deal would cover the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign and the 2022-23 slate.

Fast-forward to this summer, and again Worrad finds himself with a decision to make. After 58 games over parts of two seasons with the Griffins, Worrad returned to free agency. This time around, he made a different choice. Worrad elected to sign a one-year deal with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

“It was definitely an interesting experience being a free agent this summer and having a little bit of uncertainty about the upcoming season,” Worrad said about his second free-agent experience. “At the end of the day, when it became time to decide, Hartford was a pretty easy choice. I had the opportunity to play at the XL Center last year and loved it. I also had a few former teammates who played there, and they all had great things to say.”

Hartford being an “easy choice” for Worrad is about where the ‘easy’ part of this season ends. Worrad will come to his first Hartford training camp in a matter of weeks, a camp that certainly will not be easy. The Wolf Pack have a number of returning players, both younger guys and veterans, from a playoff team a season ago. To make matters more complicated for those trying to make the roster, a number of established AHL players added via free agency could be making their way to Hartford this season as well.

Worrad knows camp will be both challenging and competitive. He’s not shying away from that, however. In fact, Worrad is embracing the challenge ahead.

“Depth is the best thing that you can have on a team,” he said when asked about the expected competitiveness in camp. “Iron sharpens iron and to have guys battling for spots each day will always be beneficial for the team and its success down the road. I know that I am going to have to come in and battle for a spot and prove myself and I am really looking forward to that challenge.”

Worrad’s first camp in Hartford will be his second as a professional hockey player. It’s worth remembering that last season, despite his experience late in the 2021-22 campaign, was just his rookie year. There was, as to be expected, an adjustment period for a player going from the college ranks to the pros. It was a year of learning.

“This first full season was a big learning experience for me,” Worrad admitted. “There are lots of little differences between the pro game and college that I’ve had to adjust to. I have definitely learned how valuable puck possession is as well as the ability to hang on to pucks and make strong plays rather than hope plays. I would say I’ve improved in those areas since turning pro, as well as my skating and strength on the puck.”

With those lessons in his back pocket, Worrad is ready to make an impression this October when the first sheet of ice hits the floor at the XL Center. He’s ready to battle to make this Wolf Pack team and is ready to have an impact on a team looking to build on a successful playoff performance last spring.

He’s also ready to play for the Wolf Pack faithful, a fanbase that clearly left an impression on Worrad when he and the Griffins came to town for a rare visit last December. He’s ready to bring a game that the fanbase will certainly appreciate and love.

“As a player, I would describe myself as a reliable, two-way centerman who is strong in the faceoff circle,” he said. “I take pride in making plays offensively and making other players around me better, but also value shutting down the other team’s top threats.

“The fans can expect a player who is going to give it his all every time he is out on the ice.”

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ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.  

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