NHL Combine Reports
6/2/2006 6:53:04 PM
More than 100 draft-eligible players from around the world are in Toronto this weekend for the National Hockey League's annual Draft Combine.
Click on to our combine diary throughout the Friday and Saturday for news, updates and one-on-one video interviews as the NHL's 30 teams evaluate hockey's future stars.
The NHL Entry Draft will take place in Vancouver on Saturday, June 24 and can be seen live on TSN at 6pm et/3pm pt.
Each NHL club has its own team of scouts, front office and athletic staff on hand. The players will conduct interviews with the clubs and will also undergo medical examinations and fitness testing for the league's Central Scouting Service.
McGuire at the Combine
Keenan at the Combine
Toews at the Combine
Staal at the Combine
Kessel at the Combine
Johnson at the Combine
2006 NHL Draft Combine Invitees
2006 CSB Final Rankings
ISS 2006 Draft - Rising and Falling
Players will be weighed and measured and will perform arm and upper body strength tests, push-ups, sit-ups and bench presses. The tests also include going on the stationary bike for anaerobic and aerobic testing.
The results from the tests are then passed on to the 30 NHL teams.
Highlighting the list of invitees is defenceman Erik Johnson, the top-rated North American player in Central Scouting's final rankings.
Other top prospects include Peterborough Petes centre Jordan Staal, Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Phil Kessel, North Dakota forward and Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews, and Everett Silvertips centre Peter Mueller.
There is also a lot of attention on players with NHL family ties. Centre Viktor Tikhonov is the grandson of the legendary Soviet coach of the same name; U.S. National left wing Blake Geoffrion is the grandson of the late Montreal Canadiens great Bernie Geoffrion and son of former NHLer Danny, while Sudbury Wolves left wing Nick Foligno is the son of former NHL player and current Wolves head coach Mike Foligno.
11am et - The Combine was running a bit behind in the morning, with Czech forward Michael Frolik being the only ISS top-ranked prospect to go through the physical testing. Frolik, who was once pegged as a No. 1 overall pick, has seen his stock drop over the last year. According to scouts, he looked good in the physical testing (his push-up range was slightly above median).
11am et - "(The physical testing) is only one component we look at," Central Scouting Service director EJ McGuire told TSN.ca. "There's a continuing push for an on-ice component (similar to on-field testing at the NFL Combine). These sort of aspects would give scouts an added dimension to their assessments. But the physical testing doesn't affect a player's draft ranking. It gives teams a look at how he looks and how he may look in a couple of years."
11am et - An unnamed general manager has already been heard voicing his praises of young Jordan Staal, and would love to see how the Peterborough Petes forward would look a couple of seasons from now.
11:45am et - Jonathan Toews struggled with some of the physical testing. The North Dakota forward threw up after his stint on the stationary bike and his bench press was well below median. But as stressed earlier by Central Scouting, the physical test is only one component. Anyone who has seen Toews on the ice (with the Fighting Sioux and the 2006 World Junior team) knows his potential as a Top 3 selection. Toews told TSN.ca he was more concerned with nailing his interviews over the weekend and showing NHL teams what kind of person he was off the ice.
2:30pm et - Erik Johnson and Jordan Staal were (as expected?) the cream of the crop in the physical testing. "He's a machine," one scout said of Johnson. Staal, meanwhile, was very good doing the curl-ups and the consensus seems to be that these two are in top shape. Another one who really stood out so far today is Frolik, as some scouts have come away with a much better assessment of the future NHL prospect.
4:00pm et - Derick Brassard, who broke his arm early in the season, really struggled with the weight-lifting segment this afternoon and his results were well below average. He was, however, much better in the push-ups.
4:00pm et - Phil Kessel struggled with the aerobic testing on the bike. Like Toews, he required a bucket after the VO2 Max test. It was noted by some observers that the college players generally fared worse in the aerobic tests because most have not played since early April. Some junior prospects were still playing in late May or even into June. Kessel was happier with his strength testing.
Saturday Diary Entries:
2:00pm et - Coming into the day's workouts, scouts were buzzing that Czech prospect Jiri Tlusty (ranked No. 11 by the International Scouting Service) could be a guy to watch, expecting him to be in excellent shape, but he was disappointing with results either mid-range or below in several exercises. Reports were that, despite spending the season playing against men in the Czech league, Tlusty's body also looked soft.
Everett Silvertips centre Peter Mueller, ranked sixth by ISS, reportedly looked good and fit, with his early workout results slightly above average.
One player who really impressed in workouts was Western Hockey League defenceman Jesse Dudas (ranked No. 53 among North American skaters by Central Scouting). The 18 year-old missed a good chunk of time due to a leg injury, playing only 24 games this year, but showed up in "unbelievable" shape, ripping up the bench press. A source says the blueliner was among the top five thus far in workouts.