Share with your Friends

Posted On Friday, 06.03.2011 / 1:18 PM

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

Nugent-Hopkins on the bench

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins accepts the fact that he'll never win any power-lifting competitions.
"I'm not a big bench press guy, as you can probably tell," he joked with reporters yesterday. But as one scout said, until a barbell starts scoring goals, he'll worry about bench press totals another time.
When Nugent-Hopkins' turn came on the bench, he did about six reps with the 150-pound bar. But his ability on a bench isn't why he's NHL Central Skating's top-ranked North American skater and a candidate to be the first pick of the draft next month.

"It went all right," he said after finishing the fitness testing circuit. "I don't have the biggest chest out there, so I didn't lift the most on the bench press, but I did alright."
Nugent-Hopkins is listed at 164 pounds, but he says he's put on five pounds since the season ended, and believes he could put on another five to 10 before next season starts. So he's not spending a lot of time worrying about how much bigger or stronger he might have to be to play in the NHL next season.
"I think about it a little bit," he said. "I'm not going to stress too much about it. I'm working hard at it, I'm trying to put on the weight and put on some strength. That's all I can do."
Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Friday, 06.03.2011 / 12:10 PM

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

First through the Combine

Youngstown Phantoms defenseman Scott Mayfield, No. 24 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, had the privilege of being the first player to complete the fitness testing circuit at the NHL Scouting Combine.
"It felt good," he said. "I'm done. I got it out of the way. I'll be on a plane home while some of the kids are still testing, so that's nice."
The fitness testing for the first time was held in a larger room at the Toronto Congress Centre, but a larger room allowed for more scouts, general managers and media to pack the room.
"That was new to me," Mayfield said. "You're definitely in the spotlight out here. I enjoyed it, though. It's something to compete in and I want to see how my results turned out against all the other kids here."
Like most of the prospects, the two bike tests -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer, which measures a player's power output during a 30-second burst, and the VO2 Max test, which measures a player's endurance -- were the toughest.
"The bike tests are, of course, the hardest and I was on the bike quite a bit the last two months leading up to this," Mayfield said. "I think I did good. They didn't tell us our results, we won't get to see those just yet. I was happy with what I did. I definitely tried my hardest."
He had no shortage of motivation -- two trainers were screaming at jet-engine decibels inches from his face. 
"I got a personal trainer at home who told me to keep going … they told me they were going to be pretty loud," he said. "I said, be really loud, that pushes you that much harder. They were pretty loud in my ear."
Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 06.03.2011 / 10:08 AM

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

Fun, fashion and bike riding with top prospects videographer Steven Hoffner came up with a great idea -- take two of the top prospects here at the NHL Scouting Combine to the Eaton Centre, the biggest mall in Canada, conveniently located in downtown Toronto.
We piled into a rented Buick with Gabriel Landeskog and Mika Zibanejad, who have known each other since they were 8-year-olds growing up and playing hockey together in Stockholm. Landeskog, who plays for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers, is NHL Central Scouting's No.2-ranked North American skater in its final rankings for the 2011 Entry Draft, while Zibanejad is the No. 2-ranked European skater.
How did it go? Well the video here tells the story better than I can, but I'll try filling in a few blanks on a video shoot that had a little bit of everything.

Our first stop was H&M, a Swedish clothing store. We got the guys looking at jeans and ties and trying on a few hats and glasses. Landeskog, who you would think would be a familiar face in Toronto due to his success in the OHL, was recognized, but not for his hockey skills. A gentlemen saying he was representative of a modeling agency approached Landeskog and asked him if he would be interested in being a model. Landeskog politely declined, but I guess if the hockey thing doesn't work out, he's got a second career lined up.
Our next stop was music store HVM. Zibanejad eyed an Adam Lambert CD, while Landeskog found a Queen CD, and made sure to note that former teammate Jeff Skinner was a fan. And as a fitting cliché, the two young Swedes spent the most time with an ABBA CD.
Posted On Thursday, 06.02.2011 / 4:24 PM

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

Binnington 'drafted' by Hockey Canada

Jordan Binnington, NHL Central Scouting's third-ranked goaltender, was announced today as one of 10 goalies invited to Hockey Canada's summer goaltending camp. It's the first step in the tryout process for Canada's 2012 World Junior Championship team.

Binnington, who plays for the OHL's Owen Sound Attack, is the only one of the 10 eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft. Eight have been drafted or signed by NHL teams; only Belleville Bulls goalie Malcolm Subban doesn't have an NHL affiliation as he doesn't become draft-eligible until next year.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Binnington told "It's a great opportunity for me to showcase myself. Obviously I'm young … chances are slim for me, but I'm going to show what I can do and hopefully we'll see what happens from there."

Other goaltenders invited are Mississauga's J.P. Anderson (Sharks), University of Denver's Sam Brittian (Panthers), Medicine Hat's Tyler Bunz (Oilers), Quebec's Louis Domingue (Coyotes), Seattle's Calvin Pickard (Avalanche), Everett's Kent Simpson (Blackhawks) and Niagara's Mark Visentin (Coyotes).

Hockey Canada also invited six goalies to the same camp as a tryout for the summer under-18 team that will represent Canada at August's Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. None of that group is eligible until next year's draft: Daniel Altshuller, Nepean (CCHL), Chris Driedger, Tri-City (WHL), Alex Dubeau, Shawinigan (QMJHL), Domenic Graham, Drummondville (QMJHL), Matt Murray, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), Francois Tremblay, Val-d'Or (QMJHL).

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 06.02.2011 / 12:59 PM

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

Blues' clues

The St. Louis Blues are one of four teams that don't have a first-round pick at the 2011 Entry Draft -- the 11th pick belongs to Colorado from the Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart trade -- but Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes he might have the ammunition to change that.

The Blues have three second-round picks and a pair of third-round selections, and Armstrong said that could be enough to entice a team to part with one of its top-round picks.

"With the possibility of the way our picks are clumped together there's the potential to move up into the first round, we believe," Armstrong told "We approach it pretty well the same way. You still have to do your homework; you never know what's going to transpire at the draft table. We're approaching it the same way as if we had a first pick. My experience shows me where you think you can move to in the first round with the assets we have and we'll focus in that area."

Armstrong said his targets could be the Avalanche, Senators, Oilers and Maple Leafs -- all of which with multiple first-round picks.

"The teams that have multiple first-round picks might want to consider moving back and gaining extra second-round picks," said Armstrong. "It all really depends on how those teams have their lists."

While he said getting into the first round is a hope, it's not an imperative, because the player available at 23 or 24 could be just as good as the player available 43 or 44.

"There's really good depth in this draft," Armstrong said. "Our scouting staff has a belief where certain players will go. There's a range that if we can move up to we'd like to get into (but) history has shown that players that go in the early 30s have the same success as players that go in the early 20s. You just have to do your homework, know your players and understand what you're looking for in an NHL player."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 5:49 PM

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

Another Subban nears Draft day

While scouts and fans are focused on the 2011 Entry Draft, there's a familiar name getting ready for the 2012 Draft.

Malcolm Subban, younger brother of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, on Wednesday visited the Westin Bristol Place, home of this week's NHL Scouting Combine, to get a feel for an event he'll almost certainly be invited to next season.

Subban spent his first Ontario Hockey League season with the Belleville Bulls in 2010-11. In 32 games, he went 10-17-2 with a 3.16 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. He also earned an invitation to Hockey Canada's summer goaltending camp, which could see him earn the chance to audition for a spot on Canada's 2012 World Junior Championship team.

Before that, though, there was a little shopping trip around the mini-Reebok store set up in a hotel ballroom. Subban tried out gear and checked out some of the stuff pros like Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller use. He even pulled on a Miller Buffalo Sabres jersey.

Posted On Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 1:13 AM

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

Devils continuing to write their book

New Jersey Devils scouting director David Conte was asked if his goal for next month's draft is to find a player that could skate into the NHL next season.

"No," he told "It's a goal to find a guy who can play 20 seasons."

It's interesting Conte picked that number. The Devils have the fourth pick at the 2011 Entry Draft, the first time they've earned a spot so high since 1989. They had the fifth pick that year and selected forward Bill Guerin, who nearly played 20 seasons -- he retired in December 2010 after 18 NHL seasons.

(The Devils drafted third in 1991, but acquired that pick in a trade.)

Conte, going into his 18th year leading the Devils' drafts, said picking this early in the draft really doesn't change much about how he does his job.

"it's certainly easier in the sense that you don't have as many players to consider," he said. "It's also more important because the quality of the player, at least at this stage in time, seemingly is better, higher upside, and more critical to the team because you need to improve. How we go about it? No, I don't think we need to make too many adaptations to what we've done in the past."

Conte said he and his staff is considering a group of 8-12 players for the fourth pick, but isn't prepared to start narrowing that list yet. He's using this week's NHL Scouting Combine to continue compiling information, and said when he leaves Toronto, he likely won't have crossed any names off his list.

"We have the interviews, the testing -- the book's not complete, so what's the point of trying to figure it out?" he said. "I talk to people … why do you open your Christmas presents before Christmas? There's no need."

While it's possible New Jersey's first pick could be in the opening-day lineup, Devils fans shouldn't expect the Christmas present they see in June to be available to play with in October.

"In an ideal world you'd like to give them more seasoning," said Conte, who then added the choice wasn't really his to make.

"Players will pick the team. We won't."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Tuesday, 05.31.2011 / 9:55 PM

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

What's the Flyers' plan?

The Philadelphia Flyers won't make their first selection at the 2011 Entry Draft until late in the third round, but that hasn't stopped GM Paul Holmgren from taking the time to interview some of the top prospects here in Toronto at the NHL Scouting Combine.

"We've been spending time talking to guys that are going to go high in the first round because you never know," Holmgren told "We're here, all these players are here, might as well get to know them a little bit. You never know. Even if you don't draft a guy or move up, you never know what might come down the road, in a trade, maybe it's two or three years from now. Any time you get a chance to interact with these young players it's good."

Holmgren referenced the 2002 Entry Draft as an example of the unpredictability of the draft. That year, he was the club's assistant GM when the team didn't have a first-round pick but did have a pair of second-round choices. On draft day, they sent those choices along with forward Ruslan Fedotenko to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the fourth pick of the draft and selected Joni Pitkanen.

"You have to approach it like anything can happen," said Holmgren. "That's the way we've always done it. You never really do know what might happen. We went into the draft in 2002 and we ended up with the fourth pick. You have to know the players. Scouts have their jobs to do. They continue to do them, look at all the players and prepare for any scenario that might come up."

Holmgren said he didn't know how possible it would be for him to move up. He traded first- and third-round picks to Toronto in the Kris Versteeg deal, and their second-round pick was sent to Phoenix in 2009 as part of the Daniel Carcillo trade.

"You never know what might happen," said Holmgren. "It varies. Certain teams are in different spots. I just think you need to be open-minded about these things. Are first-round picks coveted? I would say sometimes yes, sometimes no."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 6:23 PM

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

Time with Tallon

TORONTO -- Dale Tallon wore No. 19 for most of his NHL career, but he's come to be more associated with the number 3.

That's because for the second straight year, Tallon, the general manager of the Florida Panthers, holds the No. 3 pick of the Draft.

And before that, when he was the GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, he had the third pick of the 2007 Entry Draft. That worked out pretty well, when he chose Jonathan Toews. And the early returns on last year's third pick, defenseman Erik Gudbranson, look pretty good.

Will he have the same success with the third pick this year? Tallon is confident he will.

"I think it's a very good position to be in this year," Tallon told on Monday, the first day of the NHL Scouting Combine. "We're going to get a good player there."

The third pick isn't the only one the Panthers have. For the second straight year, Florida has double-digit picks. After making 13 selections last year, they have 10 picks this year -- besides their first-round choice, they have two picks in the second round and four in the third.

And if Tallon has his way, they'll have even more choices when the teams convene at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25.

"If we can achieve that and get a couple more picks this year, that would give us 24, 25 picks in a year -- that's like four drafts," he said. "That really can set us up or the future and give us a strong foundation. That's what we're doing."

Building from the draft up is part of Tallon's rebuilding plan in Florida, which started a year ago when he was hired. It's the same philosophy he used to rebuild the Blackhawks when he was hired as that team's GM in 2005. In his tenure in Chicago, the Hawks added such key components as Toews, Patrick Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson, to go along with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien, who were drafted while Tallon was assistant GM in Chicago.

His work in Florida started last year with Gudbranson, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound defenseman with a powerful shot and a nasty edge to his game. Gudbranson had a strong training camp, but was sent back to Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League when he and the team couldn't agree on a contract. He totaled 34 points and 105 penalty minutes in 44 games, and 5 points in seven games for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

Tallon said he expects Gudbranson to be in South Florida to start 2011-12.

"We're happy with this development and we'll get him taken care of in the next little while, get him signed up," Tallon said. "He's a big part of our future. He's a core guy for us. He's got captaincy-type material as far as character on and off the ice. We think he's going to be a great player for us."

He has high hopes for his two other first-round picks, centers Nick Bjugstad and Quinton Howden.

Bjugstad, a 6-foot-4, 188-pound center taken with the 19th pick, had 8 goals and 12 assists in 29 games as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, and had 2 goals and 2 assists in six games in helping the U.S. win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

Howden, a 6-2, 182-pound center taken with the 29th pick, had a team-best 40 goals in 60 games for the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors and he had 2 goals and 3 assists to help Canada win the silver medal at the 2011 WJC.

They weren't the only successes.

"(John) McFarland had a good second half in Saginaw and (Alex) Petrovic had good numbers in Red Deer. … We're happy with all of them. Every one of those kids we drafted had good years last year in their respective leagues and their development has come along nicely. (Director of Player Development) Brian Skrudland has done a real nice job for us in that regard, keeping an eye on those kids and giving them information and mentoring them and helping them along so they've all had a better understanding of what's expected of them. We're happy. We kept a close eye on them. It's important. We don't want them to get astray and get some bad habits. We want them to get a pro and a Panther state of mind. That's what we're trying to instill in our people. And change the whole perception and culture that we have in Florida."

One of the common factors in last year's draft was a combination of size and skill. Eight of their 13 picks were taller than 6-2 and six weigh at least 190 pounds. This year, however, Tallon said the accent might be placed more on skill.

"Probably going to go for more speed and skill," said Tallon. "That's one thing we don't have a lot of, offense yet. We're going to look at probably the same character and same traits but probably go with more speed and skill to offset the size we drafted last year. But it won't preclude us from drafting some big, strong guys this year.

Tallon sees his renovation work in Florida on same path as the one that ended with Stanley Cup glory in Chicago.

"I think it's very similar," Tallon said. "I think the difference moving forward (in Florida) is the flexibility we have contract-wise. We have, depending on what the (salary cap) floor is, just to get to the floor we'll have to spend anywhere from $28 to $30 million -- that's the difference. That can afford us to get some good 27-, 28-, 29-year-old free agents that can be leaders of our team."

In Chicago he added free agents Nikolai Khabibulin, Cristobal Huet, Brian Campbell and Antti Niemi to his home-grown group. Tallon said he plans on being just as active with the Panthers. One of the positions he'll look at closest is in goal. Veteran starter Tomas Vokoun can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, but the team's top prospect is goalie Jacob Markstrom. Also, backup Scott Clemmensen has one year left on his contract.

"We're going to look at Tomas, we're going to look at everything available," said Tallon. "Free agency, trade, those are the ways we're going to see what best suits our situation with young goaltenders with Markstrom, (Sam) Brittain and (Brian) Foster in our system. We have some good young goaltenders. And Scott Clemmensen is a very good backup goaltender, had a good year for us. We're going to get a top goalie. If it's Tomas, great, but we don't know. We're going to talk to him as well."

Beside the player side, Tallon also needs to find a coach. Since firing Peter DeBoer following last season's 14th place finish in the Eastern Conference, Tallon said it's "been an exhaustive search," but hoped to have a new coach in place prior to next month's draft.

"We've talked to and interviewed a tremendous number of quality candidates," said Tallon. "The good thing is we have a lot of guys that want to come to Florida and see us turn this around. That's the good news."

While he might have a young team for the 2011-12 season, he said he doesn't necessarily need a young coach to grow with his players.

"We need a good teacher and a good communicator," he said. "It doesn't matter, the age. I don't look at age as a factor. … I want to have somebody that can relate to young guys and have respect of elder players."

Once he has that in place, Tallon can work on finding a new number to be associated with.

"I don't want to be picking there (No. 3) ever again, unless we get it in a trade," said Tallon. "We need to start moving up the ladder. Been at the front row enough; it was nice being in the back row. That's the goal."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 3:02 PM

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

Which prospects are staying busy?

The interview process at the NHL Scouting Combine gives teams a chance to meet as many of the top prospects for the 2011 Entry Draft as possible. Some teams see lots of kids, while others have specific targets in mind.

Apparently, lots of teams are interested in four particular players.

Sarnia Sting forward Brett Ritchie is one of four players that will meet with 29 of the 30 teams during the Combine. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right wing had 21 goals and 20 assists in just 49 OHL games this season, but broke out in a big way for Canada at the World Under-18 Championships, finishing with 4 goals and 3 assists in seven games as Canada finished fourth. He's No. 36 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the Draft.

Three Swedish players also will meet with 29 of the 30 teams -- Djurgarden center Mika Zibanejad, Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked European forward; and Farjestad defensemen Jonas Brodin (No. 3 on Central Scouting's list) and Oscar Klefbom (No. 6).
First | Prev | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105-107 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

He's been one of our top players all year. Tonight he was by far our best player. There wasn't anybody in the same universe as him.

— Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz on goalie Braden Holtby, who made 33 saves to shut out the Edmonton Oilers 1-0
World Cup of Hockey 2016