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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 10:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Marr: 120 players invited to NHL Scouting Combine

Once NHL Central Scouting finalizes the rankings for the top 2014 NHL Draft-eligible North American prospects, the scouting staff will begin making preparations for the NHL Scouting Combine, which will be held May 25-31 in Toronto.

NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr confirmed for NHL.com that 120 players, including North American and international skaters and goalies, have been invited to the Combine this year. The 2013 Combine had the top 101 players from North America and Europe.

All NHL teams will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the invited prospects between May 26 and May 30. The medical examinations of each player will take place May 30 and fitness testing will be May 31.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 9:08 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Wheat Kings' Hawryluk hospitalized after collapse

Brandon Wheat Kings center Jayce Hawryluk, No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, is alert and talking after collapsing in the dressing room after a 5-4 victory against the Regina Pats in Game 3 of the Western Hockey League playoffs on Wednesday in Brandon.

Hawryluk was taken by ambulance to Brandon Regional Health Centre.

Wheat Kings general manager and coach Kelly McCrimmon released the following statement after the game:

"Jayce was taken to hospital after [Wednesday's] game. While concerned, the club believes it is not serious. Until we have more information we cannot pinpoint the cause. Jayce is resting comfortably."


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 4:28 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Day 1 recap: How Central Scouting has evolved

TORONTO -- The opening day of NHL Central Scouting's meeting to determine the final rankings of the top draft-eligible North American skaters proved to be entertaining as well as enlightening.

Entertaining in the fact the top players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in June were discussed and debated for eight hours. Enlightening in the way Central Scouting has taken a proactive approach in making projections at a time when the game has certainly evolved since the bureau was established prior to 1975-76 as a courtesy to NHL teams.

"Our whole business is projection so you have to project where the game will be a little bit down the road," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "We have to look at those trends. We have to know that the game is evolving this way because we're telling you who will play there in the next three-to-five years; it's one of the hardest but best things about our job.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 12:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Familiar top prospects dominate OHL discussion

12 p.m. ET -- The Ontario Hockey League was the next league on the itinerary for discussion at NHL Central Scouting's final meeting of the top draft-eligible players in North America.

The top five OHL players listed at the midterm -- Samuel Bennett of Kingston, Aaron Ekblad of Barrie, Michael Dal Colle of Oshawa, Nicholas Ritchie of Peterborough and Brendan Perlini of Niagara -- continued to gain high praise.

On Bennett: "He's done nothing to change my mind. I think he's done a great job all season."

On Ritchie: "This guy is big (6-2.25, 231), but can still play at top speed and play well at top speed. He can up his game when he has to."

On Dal Colle: "He's had that consistency you need. He would project to be even better once he gets that strength; this kid continues to grow. He's got a good stick and his hockey sense is solid."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 11:24 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Eastern U.S. defensemen receive CSS spotlight

11 a.m. ET -- The scouts started discussion on the Eastern part of the United States and there were plenty of players up for discussion.

Several defensemen, including Gavin Bayreuther of St. Lawrence in the ECAC, Miles Gendron of Rivers Academy in Massachusetts, Scott Savage of Boston College and John-Claude Brassard of Noble & Greenough School in Massachusetts were players open for talks.

Bayreuther (6-0.5, 195) had nine goals and 36 points in 38 games for St. Lawrence. Gendron (6-1.5, 181) had six goals and 19 points for Rivers Academy. In 29 games for the Boston College Eagles, Scott Savage (6-1, 171) had four goals and 16 points. Brassard, who will attend Union College in New York in 2015-16, also had a productive season with 11 goals and 43 points in 27 games for Noble & Greenough.

Steven Merl (6-3, 186) of Belle Tire U18 (T1AAA) produced six goals and 23 points in 36 games as a right-handed center. He'll play in the United States Hockey League next season.

The scouts took a 15-minute coffee break and are now beginning to discuss players from the Ontario Hockey League. At the midterm release in January, Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL was No. 1 among North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 11:10 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Early focus on top 'Q' talents at CSS meetings

10 a.m. ET -- Chris Bordeleau, who does much of the scouting in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, began Day 1 with discussion on the top players within the league. At the midterm, forward Ivan Barbashev of Moncton was the top player from the QMJHL and left wing Nikolaj Ehlers was the second highest.

Left wing Vladimir Tkachev (5-foot-9, 141 pounds) of Moncton was discussed in detail, including his compete level, the type of player he is and can become. Tkachev had 10 goals, 20 points in 20 games after joining the Wildcats from Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League in the middle of the season.

Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb had Tkachev ranked No. 14 on the midterm list of the top international skaters when he played overseas. Center Alexandre Goulet of Charlottetown, left wing Julien Pelletier of Cape Breton, center Cameron Darcy of Cape Breton and center Jan Mandat of Victoriaville were also discussed in length.

What was interesting, in addition to hearing the commentary on the players, was how scouts were figuring out how to rank players based on how the game has changed in recent seasons. The speed and quickness with which the game is now played might change some opinions.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 9:30 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Final meeting to rank top players for 2014 Draft begins

So the scouts are in place and we're ready to roll here at the board offices in Toronto. The final meeting to determine the top 2014 draft-eligible prospects is under way.

Scouts in attendance are director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, along with Chris Edwards, David Gregory, Al Jensen, B.J. MacDonald, Peter Sullivan, Chris Bordeleau and Greg Rajanen. Jensen is also responsible for ranking the top North American goaltenders. Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb will make his recommendations to Marr from a separate location on the top international skaters and goaltenders.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 6:24 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Reinhart, Draisaitl earn WHL first-team honors

Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl and Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart, two of the top 2014 draft-eligible point producers in the Western Hockey League this season, were named First Team All-Stars of the WHL's Eastern Conference on Thursday.

Draisaitl, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, finished fourth in the league with 105 points (38 goals, 67 assists) in 64 regular-season games. Reinhart, No. 4 on Central Scouting's midterm list, also had 105 points (36 goals, 69 assists) in four fewer games.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 4:42 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Ekblad earns four top honors in OHL coaches poll

Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, won top honors in four different categories in the Eastern Conference of the Ontario Hockey League.

The results of the OHL Coaches Poll, which enables teams from each conference to recognize the top three players in 20 different categories, were released Wednesday in Toronto.

Ekblad, considered to be the top draft-eligible defenseman on the board this season, earned first-place finishes for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman. He also was voted second in the category of best penalty killer, behind Philadelphia Flyers prospect and Oshawa Generals forwards Scott Laughton.


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POSTED ON Monday, 03.17.2014 / 1:21 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Top prospects set for tiebreaker

Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, will lead his charges against the Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday in a tiebreaker game to determine the final playoff spot in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference playoffs.

The winner will play the top-seeded Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round of the best-of-seven WHL playoffs on Saturday in Edmonton.

The WHL, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League begin postseason play this week.

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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1