Dylan MacPherson’s getting a crash course in cooking and everything else he never had to worry about as a hometown player for the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The 21-year-old from Redcliff signed a one-year deal with the Springfield Thunderbirds over the weekend, meaning it’s finally time to move out on his own – much unlike most major-junior players who get billeted.
“This will be my first experience living away from home,” said MacPherson Tuesday. “I’m getting copies of all (my mom’s) recipes, the good stuff to buy and stuff to stay away from, she’s helping me out lots like that.”
It’s the little things that MacPherson will have to get used to in Massachusetts this fall, but having played a couple games at the end of the season with the Thunderbirds should help the 6-foot-3 blue-liner make the transition, at least on the ice.
He got his first point as a pro in one of those contests and felt at ease at the Florida Panthers’ development camp at the end of June. He even had two assists in the final camp game June 30.
“You know some faces and names so going in there so it’s a little more comfortable, you’re not nervous about going,” he said. “You get to talk to the older guys now which makes it a lot easier of a transition.”
MacPherson is the first local hockey player to turn pro since Curtis Valk and Darren Dietz, both of whom now play for the same team in Russia. Valk’s last season in North America was with Springfield in 2017-18, and MacPherson has another thing in common with the fellow ex-Tiger – they both went undrafted by the NHL.
MacPherson figures he’s making the most of it and notes there are a couple benefits in his situation.
“Getting drafted is great, it’s everybody’s dream to get drafted to the NHL, play in the NHL, but for the guys who don’t get drafted it’s not really the end-all, be-all,” he said.
“You can go to different teams’ camps… if you’re a dark horse you can go in the back door way, get an AHL deal, then an NHL deal, it’s kind of better like that to keep quiet and work hard.”
And that has been MacPherson’s mantra, not joining the Tigers until he was 18, then gradually working his way up to being a first-line player.
He figures it’s got him this far, so the plan is to keep doing what he’s doing and see how far it takes him.
“Have fun and work hard and everything else will take care of itself,” he said. “That’s how everything is; if you work hard there’s a really high chance that everything’s going to work out in the end.”