The NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto takes place this week to give future draft prospects a chance to showcase their skills. Many of those eligible for the 2014 NHL draft will be giving everything they have to impress various franchises in an attempt to snag a spot on the roster.
The Combine runs from May 26-31 and was originally created to help all 30 NHL teams narrow their draft choices. NHL Central Scouting invited 119 players from North America and Europe to join in the activities.
The fitness portion of the event will take place on May 31. This year it will be headed by Dr. Norman Gledhill and his fitness staff. Overhand pull-ups, single leg squats and pro agility tests will be on the agenda.
Director of central scouting Dan Marr stated that “All players must be medically cleared by the NHL Combine medical staff in order to participate in the physical testing. Any player that is not 100-percent able to perform an upper- or lower-body test will be classed as injury or medically exempt depending on the circumstances. Every year there are instances where players have declined the Combine invitation, been medically ruled unable to test or have declined to test, but those instances vary and are rare.”
One example of this is current invite Jake Virtanen, Number 6 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters. Virtanen has recently undergone surgery on his shoulder which will prevent him from taking part in the fitness portion of the event.
The Combine is a perfect opportunity for all invites to make an impression prior to the draft. This could be many players first contact with the NHL and need to understand the severity it may have on their career. In addition to showing off their skills on ice and fitness levels, these young men need to prove they have the maturity level to play in a national league.
“What the players have to keep in mind is that this will be their initial contact with many NHL teams, so they have the chance to make that good initial impression,” Marr said. “Some kids aren’t that comfortable when they’re in an interview environment so it’s important they be prepared to talk about themselves, which is something they might not be used to doing. The Combine gives the NHL teams a chance to get to know the player away from the rink.”