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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 9:01 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Hawryluk removes doubts with strong Combine tests

TORONTO -- Brandon Wheat Kings forward Jayce Hawryluk used the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine on Saturday to show any NHL scouts or general managers he was fully healthy.

Hawryluk showed upper- and lower-body strength during his stops at each of the 11 stations.

The fitness testing came two months after he had a serious health scare. After scoring a hat trick in a Western Hockey League playoff game against the Regina Pats on March 26, Hawryluk collapsed in the locker room. He was hospitalized, and the collapse was blamed on dehydration. Hawryluk returned for the next game and didn't have another health issue.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 7:49 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Ekblad: I'm ready to play in NHL next season

TORONTO -- Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad doesn't consider himself to be arrogant, but he's confident that he's ready to make the jump to the NHL next season.

"That's the way I believe in myself," he said. "I wouldn't say I'm cocky but I'm confident and I believe that if I work hard and do all the little things, pay attention to details, I can be in that League next year."

Ranked second by NHL Central Scouting on its final list of the top North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft, Ekblad has reason to be confident. In 58 games this season, the 6-foot-3, 213-pounder led all Ontario Hockey League defensemen with 23 goals and tied for fifth with 53 points. He also had one goal and one assist in seven games with Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.


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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 6:23 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Portland center De Leo happy with Combine tests

TORONTO -- Center Chase De Leo of the Portland Winterhawks didn't have much time to prepare for the 2014 NHL Scouting Combine after his season came to an end May 12.

But De Leo ripped through the fitness portion of Combine in good time on Saturday at The International Centre.

He said he enjoyed the motivation provided by the personnel at York University while on the bikes.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 5:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Draisaitl hopes to help develop hockey in Germany

TORONTO -- Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl certainly would love to hear his name called first at the 2014 NHL Draft.

But for the native of Cologne, Germany, being the highest-drafted German-born player in NHL history is just as important.

"I'd be extremely proud and honored," Draisaitl said. "We've had some high picks. To be considered as maybe the highest-drafted German player ever would be a huge honor."

Right now that honor belongs to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Marcel Goc, who was selected by the San Jose Sharks with the 20th pick of the 2001 draft.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 2:31 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Flames 'looking for hockey players' with first pick

TORONTO -- The Calgary Flames are putting together a list of the players they might select when they announce the fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27.

Properly ranking those players, however, remains a challenge.

"It would be easy to say whoever is there at four we'll take at No. 4, but our group is bigger," Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button said. "We have six, seven, eight guys and we're still sorting that out and this is part of the process."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 12:18 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Prospect Virtanen enjoys fun interview with Flames

TORONTO -- Forward Jake Virtanen of the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen couldn't go through the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine after having surgery two weeks ago on his right shoulder. But that didn't stop him from having a few memorable moments during his week here.

Among those were an interesting interview with the Calgary Flames.

Virtanen knows a number of Flames front-office staffers since the Flames and the Hitmen share facilities at Scotiabank Saddledome.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 12:01 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Devils' Conte sees value in unpredictable draft

TORONTO -- The 2014 NHL Draft might be impossible to predict, but that doesn't necessarily mean scouts thirsting for new blood in their farm systems aren't chomping at the bit.

Take for instance New Jersey Devils veteran director of scouting David Conte, who has been projecting prospects for the organization for the past 30 years.

"I think there are some very unique and special players who will have long successful careers coming out of this draft class," Conte said. "I'm excited. Because there's not a consensus pick, there is a chance of getting players that you greatly value at a reduced price compared to years where there is a consensus."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 11:46 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Lightning excited to have two first-round picks

TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are one of two teams, along with the Anaheim Ducks, currently holding two first-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft. That's a pretty nice place to be, according to Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray.

"It's always a good year to have two first-round picks," he told NHL.com. "If you look at any draft, there's always 45 to 55 [players], depending on the year ... that become regular NHL players. It's our job to make sure we find at least two of those guys in the first round."

The Lightning have their pick at No. 19 and will also have either the 28th or 29th pick, depending on how the New York Rangers fare in the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning acquired the pick from New York in the Martin St. Louis trade.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 11:30 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Blues' MacInnis excited to watch son at Combine

TORONTO -- Al MacInnis, a Hall-of-Fame player who now serves as senior advisor to the general manager for the St. Louis Blues, was keeping a close eye on the prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft as they made their way through the testing floor at Toronto International Centre on Saturday.

But he followed one prospect a bit closer than others: his son Ryan, a center with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. MacInnis is No. 20 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2014 Draft.

"It's a good process to go through," Al MacInnis told NHL.com. "Obviously he knows a lot of these kids. He had a pretty good idea coming in here what to expect. He's been working at it. ... It's an exciting week for the boys."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 11:01 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Stars' McDonnell looking forward to new chapter

TORONTO -- The 2014 NHL Draft signals the start of a new era in the life of Dallas Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell.

McDonnell spent a decade aiding Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland at the draft table. This year, he will be sharing his insight with Stars GM Jim Nill, who hired him in July 2013.

The timing is impeccable too, as the 2014 Draft class poses a unique challenge.

"This is the toughest draft to gauge that I've ever been involved in," McDonnell told NHL.com. "Guys that maybe are tenth on your list, could go No. 30 or vice versa. It's not a big gap, like some years where it drops off. It's pretty close all the way through and I think it's just going to sort itself out at the draft table once teams start taking different players. You just hope something you have falls to you."

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