In an era in which elite hockey prospects are on the ice 12 months a year, Davis Drewiske took an unconventional path to the National Hockey League.

The newest addition to the Canadiens organization started playing hockey at age 6, but didn’t concentrate on the game until he was 18.

“I played football, hockey and baseball all through high school,” said the 28-year-old Drewiske, who grew up in Wisconsin. “I was a centre-fielder in baseball and a middle linebacker in football and I enjoyed playing all three sports. I think there was some crossover value in playing different sports and I was always excited about starting fresh in a new season.”

Drewiske said hockey was his favourite sport, but he didn’t devote full time to the game until after he graduated from high school.

“I was a late bloomer,” said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound defenceman. “Maybe, because I played other sports, I got behind a little, but I don’t think I would have changed how I did it.

“I was drafted by Des Moines in the USHL and I thought hockey offered me the best chance to play at the next level. I played one season in the USHL. We didn’t have a very good team — we lost in the first round of the playoffs — but I learned a lot and made some good friends there.”

The USHL led to a four-year stay at the University of Wisconsin, where Drewiske established a reputation as a solid, stay-at-home defencemen. He played alongside future NHL players Jamie McBain, Jack Skille, Joe Pavelski, Brian Elliott and Blake Geoffrion. In his senior year, Drewiske was captain of a team that featured Ryan McDonagh and Kyle Turris.

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves once said Drewiske’s greatest asset was “the six inches between his ears” but the big defenceman said there’s more to the game than intelligence.

“You have to be prepared and you have to avoid over-analyzing because everything happens so quickly in this game,” Drewiske said.