Max Iafrate knows his last name carries weight. His father, Al, played 799 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks.
But that wasn’t enough to get the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman selected in last month’s NHL draft, despite being ranked 70th among North American skaters by Central Scouting. He was the second-highest in those rankings not to come off the board.
“Going to the combine and stuff, preparing for the testing, getting ready for it, spending all that time training, yeah it’s disappointing,” Iafrate said Monday. “But there’s next year and the year after that. Even if you don’t get drafted there’s a lot of opportunities for free agents.”
One opportunity is this week’s Caps development camp, as the 18-year-old earned a free agent invite. His dad’s 3 ½ seasons here probably helped, but Iafrate doesn’t think that’s the reason.
“I went to the combine, I was ranked high but I didn’t get drafted,” he said. “I still went to the combine. Only 105 guys go. I should’ve got an invite to camp anyway.”
Iafrate’s Central Scouting profile on NHL.com is all about his dad, who set an All-Star skills competition record with a 105.2 mph slap shot in 1993. He spent the past two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, last year with the Kitchener Rangers and 2010-11 with the Plymouth Whalers.
Scouts know about Max Iafrate, though Hershey Bears coach Mark French got his first look Monday.
“He’s obviously got a pretty good pedigree from his father. He has good size,” French said. “He looks a little bit raw, but I’m sure this camp will be a good step in his development.”
In finding the silver lining in not being drafted, Iafrate pointed to his good friend and defenseman Torey Krug, passed over each time before signing with the Boston Bruins. Krug got into two NHL games this past season after finishing his season at Michigan State.
For Iafrate, Caps development camp is a golden opportunity to latch on to an organization despite not getting drafted.
“That’s the main reason why you come here is get a contract,” he said. “You can’t just come here just to come here. You’ve got to try to be the best.”
Naturally, Iafrate’s slap shot is something worth watching.
“I’ll be standing out of the way of it,” French said with a laugh. “If it’s anything like his dad’s, I wont get in front of that one.”
Said Max Iafrate: He taught me all the mechanics and stuff. It’s pretty hard. You don’t get to show it off much in games. It’s hard to get slap shots off nowadays.”
And hard to get noticed, even if your last name is Iafrate.