So, Derek MacKenzie, You Want To Be A Blue Jacket?

Our next mock interview covers one of last season's underdogs - a player who was expected to be a far bigger contributor in Springfield than in Columbus, but who pushed his way into the lineup and never looked back.
Q) Hi, Derek. Tell us a little about yourself?]

I'm a Sudbury boy, born on June 11, 1981. I played my junior hockey for the Wolves, where my father was the head coach, and I was drafted in the 5th round, 128th overall, of the 1999 entry draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. From there, I mostly played in their AHL affiliate in Chicago until 2007, when I signed with the Jackets as a free agent on a two way contract. In my first few years with the Jackets organization, I spent a few games at the NHL level, but mostly played on the Syracuse Crunch squads, eventually becoming their captain. Last season, I broke through with the team and played in Columbus for 63 games - the most I've ever played in season at the NHL level.

I'm a left handed shot, and I mostly play center, but I'm also comfortable moving to the wing.

Q) Tell us about some intangibles you could bring to the Blue Jackets?

Perseverance. I spent a lot of time working my way up from the AHL, never letting myself get too down, I just kept working as hard as I could on and off the ice, and it has paid off. I also bring a strong core of leadership, having been a captain in Syracuse. Even if I don't have an "A" on my sweater, I can do a lot to set a good example with my attitude and work ethic.

Q) What areas of your game do you think you can improve on?

I'm probably never going to be a top six player, but I think that if I can keep working on my ability to play against tough competition, especially on the PK and in the defensive zone, I can become one of the team's best shutdown options. I'd also like to become more of a shorthanded threat - it's an area I'm used to leading the team at in the AHL, and I think that the same hustle and awareness can pay off in Columbus.

Q) Can you give us some examples of your hockey accomplishments?

In my final year in Sudbury, we won the Emms Trophy as champions of the OHL's central division. In the 2009-10 season with Syracuse, I was ranked first in the AHL in shorthanded goals with 5, and was third on the team in points and goals. The team nominated me for the 2011 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, and I was also voted the Most Improved Player on the Blue Jackets for the 2010-2011 season.

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