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Posted On Wednesday, 06.22.2011 / 8:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Entry Draft blog

Prospects on TV and radio

The last stop on the top prospects tour of the Twin Cities was KSTP, the Twin Cities' ABC affiliate, for a round of TV interviews.

Seth Ambroz, a native of New Prague, is the home-state favorite, so he was the first prospect to take his turn in front of the camera.

"Just basic questions about being from Minnesota and having the draft here," he said of the level of questioning.

Adam Larsson said he was asked to compare playing hockey in Sweden to playing hockey in North America, while Gabriel Landeskog his feelings heading into the first round of the Draft on Friday.

Next was a trip to the other end of the building for a spot on ESPN Radio 1500's Phunn House show with Joe Anderson and Minneapolis Star-Tribune NHL writer Mike Russo.

Each prospect got his turn at the microphone, and then it was back to the hotels for some personal time. The players will be back together in the morning for an American Development Model clinic at the St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota, Minn. NHL.com will be there the whole way, so check back often.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 06.22.2011 / 5:16 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Entry Draft blog

Visiting Sea Life

The Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America is the world's largest of its kind, and it was an interesting experience.

There was an array of hands-on spots where the prospects handled starfish and hermit crabs. Then it was inside with blacklighting for spectacular glowing jellyfish.

After that it was into the walk-through aquarium, where you were surrounded by water and sea life on all sides.

The sharks were clearly the favorites.

"Seeing all the sharks and getting close to them was pretty cool," Jonathan Huberdeau said.

"The sharks were awesome," added Adam Larsson. "I had never seen one before."

After a quick visit to the LEGO Promenade, it's time for a quick bite to eat at Soul Daddy, the restaurant owned by Jamawn Woods, winner of NBC's "America's Next Great Restaurant."

Back with more in a bit.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.22.2011 / 4:49 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Entry Draft blog

Surviving the log flume

You wouldn't think taking six of the top propsects for the 2011 Entry Draft to a Nickelodeon amusement park would be fun, but according to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Dougie Hamilton, Adam Larsson, Jonathon Huberdeau and Seth Ambroz, they had a blast.

"It was the first time I've on a roller coaster since I was 10," Hamilton said.

They finished on the Log Chute log flume.

It looked like the guys had a good time, but Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins got a bit soaked.

"That's what I get for riding shotgun," said a dripping Landeskog. "Glad I brought another suit."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.22.2011 / 4:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Entry Draft blog

Huberdeau the smartest prospect

Jonathan Huberdeau is renowned for his skill on the ice, but here at the Nickelodeon Amusement Park at the Mall of America, he showed his brains.

After going on the SpongeBob Plunge and the Brain Surge roller coaster, Huberdeau wisely sat out the Last Airbender ride. As the ride curved up and down, the riders were spun at high speeds.

"That was the roughest one," said a slightly pale Gabriel Landeskog.

Huberdeau said after the first two coasters, he'd had enough.

"They were good but I'm afraid of heights," Huberdeau said. "But it was great to hang out with the guys."
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 3:55 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

And the winners are …

After two days, all 100 players have finished their testing here at the Toronto Congress Centre. After covering the Day 1 leaders, we have some final results to report:

Peak power output -- The Wingate Cycle Ergometer -- also known as the bane of prospects' existence -- measures how hard a player can go in a 30-second shift. Portland Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie and Shawinigan Cataractes defenseman Jonathan Racine, the first-day leaders, finished on top with 15.9 watts of energy per kilogram of body weight. Choate-Rosemary Hill School forward Philippe Hudon was third at 15.7.

VO2 Max test duration -- No one matched the two defensemen who lasted 14 minutes yesterday, Skelleftea's Adam Larson and the Vancouver Giants' David Musil, each at 14 minutes. Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Saginaw Spirit forward Brandon Saad, Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit and center Gregory Hoffman, who plays for Ambri in Switzerland's top league, all lasted 13 minutes.

Wing span -- Brossoit stands just 6-foot-2 1/2, but his 81-inch wingspan led the field. Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Joel Edmundson, who stands 6-foot-4 1/2, was next at 79.24 inches.

Body fat -- U.S. National Team forward Rocco Grimaldi and Saint John Sea Dogs forward Ryan Tesink were the leanest players at 6.8 percent body fat. Shawinigan Cataractes forward Maximilien Le Sieur was next at 7.0 percent.

Long jump -- Shawinigan defenseman Jonathan Racine's first-day leap of 119.3 inches finished atop the leaderboard. U.S. National Team defenseman Connor Murphy was second at 115.5, followed closely by Edmonton Oil Kings left wing Travis Ewanyk and U.S. National team goaltender John Gibson, who each went 115 inches.

Vertical jump -- Le Sieur stands just 6-foot-1 3/4, but he had the best hops of all the prospects, going 30.5 inches in the vertical leap. That put him barely ahead of the first-day leaders, Portland Winterhawks defenseman Joseph Morrow and Saginaw Spirit forward Vincent Trocheck, who registered 30.3-inch leaps. Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening was fourth at 30.0 inches. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the Combine was turned in by the 5-foot-6 Grimaldi, who was fifth at 29.8 inches.

Curl-ups -- Three Finns owned this category. Karpat right wing Miikka Salomaki topped the list with 70, followed by JYP goaltender Samu Perhonen with 68, and Jokerit center Alexander Ruutuu with 66. Plymouth Whalers forward Rickard Rakell also had 66.

Grip strength -- The player you'd least like to shake hands with is Morrow, who measured 177 pounds with his right hand. The strongest overall grip, however, belonged to Prince Albert Raiders forward Mark McNeill, who was second to Morrow on right-hand grip at 162 pounds, and first with his left hand, also 162.

Bench press -- Clendening, McNeill, Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco and Seattle Thunderbirds center Luke Lockhart each did 13 reps with the 150-pound weight on the bench. Omaha Lancers forward Seth Ambroz, Northeastern defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak and RPI defenseman Patrick Koudys were next with 12.

Push-ups -- Kitchener Rangers goaltender Michael Morrison topped the field with 45, with Le Sieur second at 42. First-day leader Clendening finished third with 40, followed by Grimaldi with 39.

Push/Pull strength -- The hardest player to clear from the front of the net might be McNeill, who had 32 goals in 72 WHL games this season. His 366 pounds of push strength was far ahead of Oleksiak, who was next at 312. McNeill's pull strength of 306 pounds was second only to U.S. National Team forward Tyler Biggs, who totaled 323 pounds.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

The last competitor

After two days and 100 draft prospects, the final player stepped off the last bike. Windsor Spitfires forward Alexander Khokhlachev, No. 29 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, was the last player to finish his stint at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Khokhlachev said he had some advance warning -- he certainly had enough people to talk to about their testing experiences -- but said nothing really could have prepared him.

"They tell me what's happening here," he told NHL.com. "I know it's very hard. We just need to do this. Just all the scouts are here, and work hard.

"I work out, but never like this. I did push-ups, bench press. But not these bikes -- that's pretty hard."

Going last might have been even harder than any other competitor, because as Khokhlachev finished each exercise, the personnel from York Fitness, which oversees the testing for Central Scouting, was breaking down its equipment.

Khokhlachev said it didn't really bother him. "Just going and do your work," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 2:01 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Binnington honest about his testing

While some players might try to gloss over their issues during the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, Owen Sound Attack goalie Jordan Binnington didn't find a need to hide.

"I got sick after both of them," he told NHL.com. "I guess they were both pretty tough."

Binnington, NHL Central Scouting's third-ranked North American goaltender for the 2011 Entry Draft, was in the second-to-last group Saturday, so that was a lot of time to hear stories from friends about what the testing would be like.

"(Daniel) Catenacci came back and he said, 'Holy (cow), it's tough, so long,'" said Binnington. "He got me all scared for it. Some guys were just like it's alright, you'll do fine. Dougie Hamilton was telling me you'll be alright, you'll do fine."

Even though he had little time to prepare for the Combine -- his team played in the Memorial Cup just nine days ago -- he felt pretty positive about his performance.

"I didn't have much time to prepare," he said. "No excuses. I worked my hardest."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 12:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Howson could have an active Draft

Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson currently holds the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft. It doesn't mean he's going to be there by the time the 2011 Entry Draft starts.

"Possibly we'd look to move the pick -- even for a player, if we could," Howson told NHL.com. "We're open for anything. I don't think it's likely we'd move up, more likely we'd either make the pick or move back or perhaps trade it for a player."

Howson said if the Jackets stay at No. 8, he has an idea in mind on what kind of player he's looking for.

"We generally draft for best player available, but there are some positions we would like to fill with this pick and it seems like those positions will be available with the pick," he said. "If he's the best player on our board, that'll dictate it."

They got one of the best players on their board last year when they chose Portland Winterhawks center Ryan Johansen with the fourth pick. He finished seventh in the Western Hockey League with 92 points and second on his team with 40 goals, and his 28 points in 20 WHL playoff games led the league. He also had 9 points in seven games and made the all-tournament team playing for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

"He had a great year," said Howson. "We couldn't have written it down much better. Having the good year in Portland, being on a winning team, making the World Junior team, being a tournament all-star, leading the Western league in playoff scoring -- he's really made a statement this year."

Howson said Johansen will have every opportunity to make the NHL team this year.

"He'll be given him an opportunity to play," said Howson. "I think he's put himself into a very good position, and it'll be up to him in September to make sure he stays."

Who his teammates could be remains a question. Among the Jackets' unrestricted free agents are forwards Scottie Upshall, Chris Clark and Ethan Moreau, defensemen Jan Hejda and Craig Rivet, and goalie Mathieu Garon.

"I think we'll be fairly active in trying to improve certain areas of our team," said Howson. "We'll certainly talk to some of our free agents."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 11:19 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Perhonen engineered way up leaderboard

The player with the MacGyver-inspired hair has engineered a way to take the lead in the curl-up competition here at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Finnish goaltender Samu Perhonen didn't need a paper clip, drinking straw, some gum and a comb to hit 68 curl-ups -- just hard work.

Perhonen, who plays for JYP in Finland's junior league, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European netminder. He said during the interview process, a team had asked him about his thick mane of blond locks.

"Someone asked me what the inspiration was for my hair style," Perhonen told NHL.com. "I said, 'I don't know, maybe MacGyver.'"

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 9:43 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Sharks looking for a match

For the second straight year, the San Jose Sharks have the 28th pick in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft. Last year, they grabbed Charlie Coyle with that pick and watched him flourish as a freshman at Boston University and with the U.S. at the World Junior Championship.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson told NHL.com if he stays at No. 28 this year, he's sure he'll find another solid player. However, he's not afraid to move out of that spot -- either up or down.

"At 28 do we think we'll get a good player? Yes," Wilson said. "But if there's a player we need to move up a couple spots to get, we're willing to do that. And we're willing to move out of that spot and find a couple guys in the second round. We can do that, too."

Wilson said making that decision is two-fold -- obviously there has to be a player in mind, and he also has to find a willing partner to make a deal with.

"I think more and more teams are looking to do that," he said of moving at the draft. "It was tougher five or six years ago. I think there are more teams that are willing to look and be creative … It's matchmaking when you have those conversations."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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