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June 22, 2018

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Dallas, Texas

Q. How are you?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Yeah, I'm happy at the moment. I was a little surprised but I heard that they are looking for center, so I hope that they choose me and they choose. So I'm so excited at the moment.

Q. Did you meet them often?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Last time we were in Combine.

Q. Inaudible.

Q. Inaudible.
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Yeah, it's a great feeling. I think the biggest thing that I get in a great team. So I'm very excited to go there.

Q. Did your performance at the championship change expectations?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Of course, I think that helps. I think that's the only good thing. I think if the team plays well, players are better, yeah.

Q. How would you describe yourself?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: I'm mostly a play maker I think. I love to find the passing lanes. That's my thing but I also have a good shot. I need to use it a little bit more I think but yeah, I'm a big guy. I love to go in the corners and battle hard. That's my thing, yeah.

Q. When do you see yourself playing with this team?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: That's hard to say. I just go day by day.

Q. Most people think it's two or three years. Would you agree?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: It can be. What I say, day by day.

Q. What's your contract status?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: I have two more years.

Q. And your father is the coach?

Q. How is that being coached by your own dad?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Sometimes we have fun moments but (laughter) I think we are doing really well.

Q. Do you go to the games together and drive home together?

Q. What's the drive home like when you don't play well?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: That's not nice.

Q. What's his influence been on you as a player, growing up, former player, someone involved in professional hockey?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Of course this helps a lot. I get good advices every day. That's big thing to me.

Q. Do you know Zach? Have you ever met him?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: I know him but I haven't met him.

Q. Did you follow -- you're pretty young but did you follow his career at all?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Yeah, some games, but I was so young.

Q. You obviously know what his history is with this organization?

Q. Do you hope to have the same impact he had on the Montréal Canadiens some day?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Yeah, I hope some day I will be as good as him. That's my mission.

Q. What have these last couple days been like for you?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Excited. I'm a little nervous at this moment. I think I'm doing really well at the moment. (Laughter).

Q. Did you have any expectations before the draft?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: Wasn't any special interest to me I think. We were just in the pool, in the hotel with my friends and I think wherever I go is a good place to me.

Q. Inaudible.
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: My family and my agents, so there's ten or something.

Q. This is an organization that's had a gaping hole at center for quite some time and has always been -- they need to fill it. I know it's a long-term thing but are you feeling any pressure to be that guy?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: I think I'm the cool guy. I don't take pressures. I think everywhere I go, it's just hockey.

Q. Do you think your value over the last few years --
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: If the team plays well, then better -- playing better. We win gold, so I think that was the big thing.

Q. Have you spoken English for a long time?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: It helps me a lot, last year we had a few USA players on our team. I spoke with them and that's helped me.

Q. Will you start playing at center full-time to prepare for the NHL?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: That's why I played winter last year because I was the youngest center in our team and we had many centers in there. So they put me in the wing. But I think that was good thing, too. It's good if you can play many positions -- yeah, if I want to play center, we speak that at the breakfast table (laughter).

Q. Did you have any conversation with Artturi Lehkonen?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: No, actually I haven't met him but I hope I will.

Q. Inaudible.
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI: I think that's possible to play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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