Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Nurse will have cheering section at draft, with McNabb

TORONTO -- Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse anticipates a large family contingent to join him at Prudential Center on June 30 for the NHL Draft.

Nurse, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, is expected to be chosen among the top 10 players. He told that one of his biggest supporters is his uncle Donovan McNabb, who spent 13 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, including 11 with the Philadelphia Eagles, and is Darnell's uncle by marriage.

"The draft will be a whole family affair, with my aunts and uncles, cousins and my parents," Nurse said at the NHL Scouting Combine. "And Uncle Donovan will be there and he can't wait. He's excited for it too."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:48 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Oilers would consider dealing their first pick

TORONTO -- Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe wasn't ready to talk about what his team's plans were for the 2013 NHL Draft, but did tell that with the seventh pick, "We're going to get another great piece to add to the group."

That's if the Oilers keep the pick.

Edmonton appears to be overflowing with young talent, thanks in part to having the first pick of the draft in each of the previous three years.

Lowe said the decision to keep or move the pick lies with general manager Craig MacTavish, but admitted the organizational mindset is to listen to any suggestions.

"Because the draft is deep, as you move along, if someone offered us something we felt could fit in with our group, a different age and a certain type of positional player we need, we wouldn't be opposed to moving the pick," Lowe said. "Maybe where teams are positioned with the [salary] cap going down, all those sorts of moons aligning could lead to something."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:31 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Father had basketball dreams for Jones

TORONTO -- Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones might make things look easy on the ice, but NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft said he didn't have the easiest time getting started in the sport.

The son of former NBA player Ronald "Popeye" Jones, Seth's father obviously hoped his three sons would follow in his path. Instead, Justin, Seth and Caleb opted for hockey.

Convincing dad they wanted to be hockey players wasn't easy.

"I have two brothers and we all started playing about the same time," Seth said. "He wasn't very happy at the time, but he's fine with it now.

"He was probably expecting all of us [to be basketball players]. A lot of kids want to follow their father's footsteps and do the same things he did. It was a little different in our house."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Quebec's Erne goes first in fitness test

TORONTO -- Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne had the distinction of being the first player to complete the fitness testing circuit at the NHL Scouting Combine.

It wasn't easy, with the giant ballroom packed with NHL scouts and general managers, as well as media members staring at his every move.

"It's different," Erne said. "It really is. I didn't know what to expect with the setup. They're all right in your face, smiling at you. It's different, for sure."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 10:51 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Drouin skips fitness testing portion of Combine

TORONTO -- Jonathan Drouin is five days removed from winning the Memorial Cup, and after 72 games of hockey this season during the regular season, playoffs and international hockey, he opted Friday to not take part in the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine.

Drouin, No. 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft, went through the medical exams and had his height, weight and body fat measured, but chose to skip the more rigorous testing.

"We've been through a lot of hockey lately," Drouin said. "Just came back [from the Memorial Cup] four days ago. We didn't want to hurt each other. We didn't train a long time, no off-ice stuff. Just a little dangerous to do it."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 10:39 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Top prospects begin infamous bike testing

TORONTO -- Is there any doubt that the words "bike test" are enough to make any top draft-eligible prospect uneasy in the week leading up to the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine?

It's a frozen moment in time for any blue-chip athlete looking to make an impression on NHL scouts and general managers. The heart starts beating faster the moment those technicians duct tape both feet to the pedals in preparation for those two infamous tests: the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and VO2 Max.

Those familiar with the VO2 Max, which measures the endurance capability of a player's heart, lungs and muscles, knows it happens to be the most grueling of all the endurance tests conducted by York University for the benefit of the 30 NHL teams.

The Wingate peak power output test measures the explosiveness of a skater and could provide critical information in learning how quickly a player might be able to begin a transition up ice.

Last year, one player lasted at least 14 minutes on the VO2: Swedish defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who was drafted No. 6 by the Anaheim Ducks.

NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-rated North American skater in 2012, Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting, lasted 12:25 on the VO2.

Defenseman Mathew Dumba, drafted No. 7 by the Minnesota Wild, lasted 11 minutes.

"That's a killer, you come right off the Wingate and guys are throwing up in the back and your legs are just shot and you've got another one [VO2] to go," Dumba said. "It's pretty hard to bear down and it really challenges you."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 8:16 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Jones, MacKinnon, Drouin might skip fitness test

TORONTO -- It's possible the long grind of the junior hockey season, including the Memorial Cup tournament that ended four days ago, will keep top 2013 NHL Draft prospects Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads from participating in the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine.

The trio is 1, 2, 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for this year's draft.

The agent for Jones and MacKinnon, Pat Brisson, told his clients will undergo medical exams Friday as scheduled, but a decision on whether they would participate in the 13 individual tests designed to evaluate strength and fitness would be made afterward.

"In my opinion, you need about a week or two to get ready for some of those tests, and we have to respect what they've gone through here lately," Brisson said. "They're in game shape, but you have to treat them like Ferraris in a sense that now these athletes have to prepare for these things. Not that they can't do it, but we'll undergo the medical exam and take it from there."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 2:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

NHL-caliber shot makes Pulock one to watch

TORONTO -- Simply put, defenseman Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings is a warrior.

Despite missing considerable time in 2012-13 with a fractured orbital bone then a broken wrist, he impressed the scouts enough to earn the No. 12 ranking on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top 2013 NHL Draft-eligible North American skaters.

"He does everything well," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told "He's got the hardest shot I've seen in years. He's so smart. The thing that's even more impressive is I've seen him take seven or eight super hits -- body checks and hip checks -- laying guys into the boards. He's got all the tools to be a top pick."

Sullivan went as far as to say Pulock has an NHL-caliber shot right now.

"He's got one of the hardest shots not only in the Western Hockey League, but would have one of the hardest in the NHL," Sullivan said. "Don't laugh … it's that good."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Current lack of first-round pick doesn't daunt Wild

TORONTO -- Even though the Minnesota Wild doesn't have a first-round pick, general manager Chuck Fletcher said he isn't approaching the NHL Scouting Combine this week or the build-up to the 2013 NHL Draft any differently.

The Wild sent their first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Jason Pominville trade. Minnesota's first selection will be in at No. 46 in the second round.

"You're always preparing because you never know what can happen between now and the draft," Fletcher told "Whether you make trades and maybe acquire an extra pick. Maybe you can package some picks and move up in the draft. We haven't focused on the top end of the draft as much, because realistically we're not going to pay to the price to get into that level. We're interviewing a lot of guys, as many as normal, and it's also a draft, too, with the depth of this draft, I think there's going to be a lot of variation on everyone's list between 15 and 40. And we expect at 46 to be looking at a player we have significantly higher than that on our list."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 12:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Tambellini knows the drill at Scouting Combine

TORONTO -- It's pretty safe to assume that center Adam Tambellini of the Surrey Eagles in the British Columbia Hockey League had a good idea what questions would be asked during team interviews at the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine.

As the son of former Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini, the 6-foot-2.25, 169-pound left-handed shot had quite the advantage.

"We had a little demo going at home, and it was cool to hear what he had to say about it and what they're looking for because he used to be the one asking the questions," Tambellini told, referencing his father. "It was nice to lean on him for some help, and I think it worked out."

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