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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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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 10:42 AM

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

Kimball Union's Bird kicks off Combine workouts

TORONTO -- Forward Tyler Bird is used to working hard in the gym at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire. But he rarely attracts an audience during his workouts.

It was a far different vibe Saturday when he entered the testing room at Toronto International Centre for the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine.

"Nobody's looking at you when you're at school," Bird told NHL.com. "You've got guys from 30 NHL teams watching [at the Combine]. It's a little bit more pressure."

Bird was the first player to go through the testing Saturday. That can be intimidating for some, but the 6-foot-2, 202-pound right wing didn't have a problem with it.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 10:23 AM

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

DeAngelo hopes to show he's learned from mistakes

TORONTO -- Sarnia Sting defenseman Anthony DeAngelo knew the 2014 NHL Combine was going to be his chance to set the record straight.

Considered by many to be one of the more dynamic point-producing defensemen available in the 2014 NHL Draft, DeAngelo found himself making headlines for all the wrong reasons this season when he was twice suspended for violating the Ontario Hockey League's harassment, abuse and diversity policy.

"At the Combine, I had a chance to tell everyone the type of person I am because I think there might have been some misconceptions out there," DeAngelo said. "I just tried to be honest with every team [during the interview stage] and talked to them and let them get to know me. It was great getting some tips on the hockey side of things; a lot of good people were trying to help."

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Posted On Friday, 05.30.2014 / 6:26 PM

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

Functional Movement Screen test a hit with prospects

TORONTO -- The newest element incorporated into the NHL Scouting Combine, the Functional Movement Screen, introduced last year, was again a big hit with the top prospects.

The exam requires players to perform seven specific joint tests that ultimately could reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body.

Each movement in the seven tests is scored on a scale of 0-3, meaning that the highest possible total score is 21. According to research provided by NHL Central Scouting, a score of less than 14 might indicate a 75 percent likelihood of a future muscular or joint injury.


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Posted On Friday, 05.30.2014 / 5:07 PM

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

Top-ranked Kapanen puts tough season behind him

TORONTO -- Kasperi Kapanen is happy to be the top player in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of European prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft.

That was about the only thing that went well for the Finnish forward this season.

Kapanen had seven goals and 14 points in 47 games with KalPa in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. KalPa won 15 of its 60 games, finished last in the league and scored 101 goals.

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Posted On Friday, 05.30.2014 / 2:09 PM

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

MacLellan embraces top role for Capitals at Combine

TORONTO -- In his role as assistant general manager of the Washington Capitals for the previous seven seasons, Brian MacLellan was part of the club's annual amateur scouting meetings and draft preparation, but it wasn't one of his main jobs.

Now that he's become the Capitals' general manager, he's gone from observer to the final authority.

"You have more responsibility to accept than [in] the previous position," MacLellan told NHL.com. "I think we have a good staff so I think the transition should be pretty smooth. It should work out well."

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Posted On Friday, 05.30.2014 / 11:44 AM

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

Dumba's legacy helps Red Deer's Fleury at Combine

TORONTO -- Red Deer Rebels defenseman Haydn Fleury feels pretty comfortable this week at the NHL Scouting Combine. He has a former teammate to thank for that.

Fleury, No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft, and No. 2 among defensemen, learned a lot from Matt Dumba, a first-round pick by the Minnesota Wild (No. 7) in 2012.

"He just tells me not to listen to all the outside influences," Fleury told NHL.com. "There's going to be a lot of critics during a year like this. Just play your game and showcase yourself as much as you can."

Dumba and Fleury were teammates in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, and kept in touch after Dumba started the season with the Wild and then was traded to the Portland Winterhawks prior to returning to the Western Hockey League.

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Posted On Friday, 05.30.2014 / 11:42 AM

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

Bike tests loom for 2014 NHL Draft hopefuls

TORONTO -- The words "bike test" are enough to make any top draft prospect uneasy in the hours leading up to the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine.

The bike tests are daunting but important for any of the prospects looking to make an impression on NHL scouts and general managers. The heart starts beating faster the moment technicians duct tape the players' feet to the pedals in preparation for those two infamous tests -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and VO2 Max.

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Posted On Friday, 05.30.2014 / 11:33 AM

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

Florida GM Tallon open to options in No. 1 slot

TORONTO -- There are many advantages to being the general manager of the Florida Panthers. For Dale Tallon, who has held that position since May 2010, one of his favorites is getting to meet some of the top draft prospects at the NHL Scouting Combine.

"One of the great perks of this job is getting to meet all the young kids and see how they handle this pressure," Tallon told NHL.com. "It's not easy coming into meetings at this age. I don't know if when I was 17 or 18, I certainly wasn't capable of doing this. It's great to see the maturity process and the development of these young people. Every year seems to get better and better."

The Panthers won the NHL Draft Lottery and hold the No. 1 pick, but Tallon said he's open to moving the selection if the right trade came along.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 2:54 PM

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

USNTDP's Milano the man with the 'magic hands'

"He probably has as much skill and puck skills as anyone I've coached in 15 years," USNTDP U-18 coachDanton Cole said. "He does some amazing things with the puck."

As a freshman at Portledge School (N.Y.) in 2011, Milano was awestruck by an NHL.com video showcasing the magical hands and creativity of then-Saint John Sea Dogs right wing Tomas Jurco. Jurco went on to be selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round (No. 35) of the 2011 draft.

"Me and my friend, Brandon Fortunato, watched Jurco do those tricks during a lunch break," Milano said. "We saw that and said let's try doing that in the lunch room at school. We started stickhandling and doing those tricks the whole year. It was a little private school so we went outside in the parking lot to do them whenever we could."

Milano got pretty good at it.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 9:46 AM

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

Lowest-ranked invitee Middleton has high aspirations

TORONTO -- Defenseman Jacob Middleton of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League has nothing to lose and everything to gain as a participant at the 2014 NHL Scouting Combine.

Middleton is No. 172 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia next month. Despite being the lowest-rated player of the 119 prospects invited to the Combine this week, his spirits are at an all-time high.

"Knowing where I stand in the rankings, this gives me an opportunity to talk to teams and have them get to know me, because from the sounds of it a couple teams wanted to meet with me, which is an honor," Middleton told NHL.com. "To get this opportunity is exciting and I'm going to make the most of it."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 9:34 AM

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

Indiana Ice discuss thrill of victory, agony of dispersal

TORONTO -- It was a bittersweet ending for defensemen Joshua Jacobs and Ryan Mantha of the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League this season.

Three days after helping lead the organization to its second Clark Cup championship in 10 seasons after beating the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL championship series, the league completed a dispersal draft of those players that were on Indiana's season-ending roster and affiliate list.

"It was very strange," Jacobs said. "A lot of guys were heading to college but some of the younger guys were staying and needed more time, but we celebrated like it was our last hurrah. Seeing the players getting drafted was kind of bittersweet, but it was also a good thing for them and they'll get a new insight into next year and more options, more intelligence from other coaches."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 9:22 AM

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

Wheat Kings' Hawryluk eager to prove full recovery

TORONTO -- Brandon Wheat Kings center Jayce Hawryluk is looking forward to impressing NHL scouts and general managers during the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine at Toronto International Centre on Saturday.

For Hawryluk, taking part in the most grueling portion of the Combine is something he is relishing. That wasn't the case two months ago, when after leading the Wheat Kings to a 5-4 victory against the Regina Pats in Game 3 of their best-of-7 first-round Western Hockey League playoff series, Hawryluk was hospitalized after collapsing in the locker room from dehydration.

Hawryluk told NHL.com on Thursday that NHL personnel have questioned what happened that night, moments after he had been named the game's first star after scoring three goals and adding an assist. He has assured all who have asked that he is fully healthy and plans to prove that Saturday.

"I'm better than ever," Hawryluk said. "Everything is fine. I went through tests and it's all good. It was a scary situation with the dehydration. The doctors told me it was overexertion and dehydration, which caused my light-headedness. There was no heart problem and all my medical reports are good."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 4:48 PM

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

Fabbri uses Memorial Cup loss as motivation

TORONTO -- It wasn't the finish Guelph Storm center Robert Fabbri envisioned in the Memorial Cup championship game in London, Ontario, on Sunday.

Still, despite a 6-3 loss against the Edmonton Oil Kings on the final day of the Canadian Hockey League season, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-hand shot has plenty to get excited about now that the 2014 NHL Draft is less than a month away.

Fabbri, No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, finished the season with 45 goals and 87 points in 58 games in his second season in the Ontario Hockey League.

"You can't really define a season off one game, although it was the Memorial Cup and we worked really hard for that opportunity; we just didn't get the outcome we wanted," Fabbri said.

"Winning the OHL championship was one of our goals and one of the steps we needed to take to get to the Memorial Cup. Accomplishing that and the way we did was great. Not too many players can say they won an OHL championship."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 11:10 AM

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

Wheat Kings' Quenneville set to impress at Combine

TORONTO -- Wonder what the topic of discussion was when Brandon Wheat Kings center John Quenneville visited the interview room of the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday here at the NHL Scouting Combine?

Quenneville, a second cousin to Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and nephew (through marriage) of Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, had 25 goals and 58 points in 61 Western Hockey League games this season. He is No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

He told NHL.com that the meeting with the Blackhawks was "interesting."

Perhaps Quenneville offered some words of encouragement for the Blackhawks staff in attendance. Chicago trails its Western Conference Final series against the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Game 5 is Wednesday at United Center in Chicago (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"Los Angeles is playing great hockey, but there are so many good players on Chicago; I still think they can make a series of it so long as they dig deep," he said.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 9:30 AM

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

Oshawa forward Smith a prospect on the rise in 2014

TORONTO -- Oshawa Generals right wing Hunter Smith is hoping the success he had on the baseball diamond someday carries over to the ice.

"I grew up playing baseball and was a catcher," Smith told NHL.com. "I was a big home-run hitter, always hitting in the [No.] three or [No.] four hole."

Smith, born in Windsor, Ontario, was a catcher with the Windsor South Canadians baseball program for a few years before he decided to make hockey his full-time ambition.

"I think I loved baseball so much because we always won," he said. "One year we went 53-1, so we were always a championship-winning team, and it was just a lot of fun. There was no better feeling than trotting the bases. But baseball has been over with now for me for about four or five years."

Smith, a 6-foot-6, 208-pound forward, had the biggest jump on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft, landing at No. 39 after being ranked No. 140 in the midterm release in January.

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