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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 3:55 PM

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

And the winners are …

After two days, all 100 players have finished their testing here at the Toronto Congress Centre. After covering the Day 1 leaders, we have some final results to report:

Peak power output -- The Wingate Cycle Ergometer -- also known as the bane of prospects' existence -- measures how hard a player can go in a 30-second shift. Portland Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie and Shawinigan Cataractes defenseman Jonathan Racine, the first-day leaders, finished on top with 15.9 watts of energy per kilogram of body weight. Choate-Rosemary Hill School forward Philippe Hudon was third at 15.7.

VO2 Max test duration -- No one matched the two defensemen who lasted 14 minutes yesterday, Skelleftea's Adam Larson and the Vancouver Giants' David Musil, each at 14 minutes. Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Saginaw Spirit forward Brandon Saad, Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit and center Gregory Hoffman, who plays for Ambri in Switzerland's top league, all lasted 13 minutes.

Wing span -- Brossoit stands just 6-foot-2 1/2, but his 81-inch wingspan led the field. Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Joel Edmundson, who stands 6-foot-4 1/2, was next at 79.24 inches.

Body fat -- U.S. National Team forward Rocco Grimaldi and Saint John Sea Dogs forward Ryan Tesink were the leanest players at 6.8 percent body fat. Shawinigan Cataractes forward Maximilien Le Sieur was next at 7.0 percent.

Long jump -- Shawinigan defenseman Jonathan Racine's first-day leap of 119.3 inches finished atop the leaderboard. U.S. National Team defenseman Connor Murphy was second at 115.5, followed closely by Edmonton Oil Kings left wing Travis Ewanyk and U.S. National team goaltender John Gibson, who each went 115 inches.

Vertical jump -- Le Sieur stands just 6-foot-1 3/4, but he had the best hops of all the prospects, going 30.5 inches in the vertical leap. That put him barely ahead of the first-day leaders, Portland Winterhawks defenseman Joseph Morrow and Saginaw Spirit forward Vincent Trocheck, who registered 30.3-inch leaps. Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening was fourth at 30.0 inches. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the Combine was turned in by the 5-foot-6 Grimaldi, who was fifth at 29.8 inches.

Curl-ups -- Three Finns owned this category. Karpat right wing Miikka Salomaki topped the list with 70, followed by JYP goaltender Samu Perhonen with 68, and Jokerit center Alexander Ruutuu with 66. Plymouth Whalers forward Rickard Rakell also had 66.

Grip strength -- The player you'd least like to shake hands with is Morrow, who measured 177 pounds with his right hand. The strongest overall grip, however, belonged to Prince Albert Raiders forward Mark McNeill, who was second to Morrow on right-hand grip at 162 pounds, and first with his left hand, also 162.

Bench press -- Clendening, McNeill, Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco and Seattle Thunderbirds center Luke Lockhart each did 13 reps with the 150-pound weight on the bench. Omaha Lancers forward Seth Ambroz, Northeastern defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak and RPI defenseman Patrick Koudys were next with 12.

Push-ups -- Kitchener Rangers goaltender Michael Morrison topped the field with 45, with Le Sieur second at 42. First-day leader Clendening finished third with 40, followed by Grimaldi with 39.

Push/Pull strength -- The hardest player to clear from the front of the net might be McNeill, who had 32 goals in 72 WHL games this season. His 366 pounds of push strength was far ahead of Oleksiak, who was next at 312. McNeill's pull strength of 306 pounds was second only to U.S. National Team forward Tyler Biggs, who totaled 323 pounds.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 2:34 PM

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

The last competitor

After two days and 100 draft prospects, the final player stepped off the last bike. Windsor Spitfires forward Alexander Khokhlachev, No. 29 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, was the last player to finish his stint at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Khokhlachev said he had some advance warning -- he certainly had enough people to talk to about their testing experiences -- but said nothing really could have prepared him.

"They tell me what's happening here," he told NHL.com. "I know it's very hard. We just need to do this. Just all the scouts are here, and work hard.

"I work out, but never like this. I did push-ups, bench press. But not these bikes -- that's pretty hard."

Going last might have been even harder than any other competitor, because as Khokhlachev finished each exercise, the personnel from York Fitness, which oversees the testing for Central Scouting, was breaking down its equipment.

Khokhlachev said it didn't really bother him. "Just going and do your work," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 2:01 PM

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

Binnington honest about his testing

While some players might try to gloss over their issues during the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, Owen Sound Attack goalie Jordan Binnington didn't find a need to hide.

"I got sick after both of them," he told NHL.com. "I guess they were both pretty tough."

Binnington, NHL Central Scouting's third-ranked North American goaltender for the 2011 Entry Draft, was in the second-to-last group Saturday, so that was a lot of time to hear stories from friends about what the testing would be like.

"(Daniel) Catenacci came back and he said, 'Holy (cow), it's tough, so long,'" said Binnington. "He got me all scared for it. Some guys were just like it's alright, you'll do fine. Dougie Hamilton was telling me you'll be alright, you'll do fine."

Even though he had little time to prepare for the Combine -- his team played in the Memorial Cup just nine days ago -- he felt pretty positive about his performance.

"I didn't have much time to prepare," he said. "No excuses. I worked my hardest."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 12:13 PM

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

Howson could have an active Draft

Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson currently holds the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft. It doesn't mean he's going to be there by the time the 2011 Entry Draft starts.

"Possibly we'd look to move the pick -- even for a player, if we could," Howson told NHL.com. "We're open for anything. I don't think it's likely we'd move up, more likely we'd either make the pick or move back or perhaps trade it for a player."

Howson said if the Jackets stay at No. 8, he has an idea in mind on what kind of player he's looking for.

"We generally draft for best player available, but there are some positions we would like to fill with this pick and it seems like those positions will be available with the pick," he said. "If he's the best player on our board, that'll dictate it."

They got one of the best players on their board last year when they chose Portland Winterhawks center Ryan Johansen with the fourth pick. He finished seventh in the Western Hockey League with 92 points and second on his team with 40 goals, and his 28 points in 20 WHL playoff games led the league. He also had 9 points in seven games and made the all-tournament team playing for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

"He had a great year," said Howson. "We couldn't have written it down much better. Having the good year in Portland, being on a winning team, making the World Junior team, being a tournament all-star, leading the Western league in playoff scoring -- he's really made a statement this year."

Howson said Johansen will have every opportunity to make the NHL team this year.

"He'll be given him an opportunity to play," said Howson. "I think he's put himself into a very good position, and it'll be up to him in September to make sure he stays."

Who his teammates could be remains a question. Among the Jackets' unrestricted free agents are forwards Scottie Upshall, Chris Clark and Ethan Moreau, defensemen Jan Hejda and Craig Rivet, and goalie Mathieu Garon.

"I think we'll be fairly active in trying to improve certain areas of our team," said Howson. "We'll certainly talk to some of our free agents."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 11:53 AM

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

Tampa scout Al Murray talks Draft, Brett Connolly

After serving for three years with Hockey Canada as the head scout of men's national teams, Al Murray will enter his first NHL Entry Draft with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the director of amateur scouting later this month.

"You always want to help try and make a statement for the organization and we've got great direction from the top," Murray told NHL.com. "Steve (Yzerman) has given us really good direction into the type of team he wants to put together and the attributes he wants us to look for in the player.

"We had a whole season to try and find those types of players and we have a group of them we'd like to get. We just hope everybody else in the League cooperates and leaves them there for us."

The Lighting own the No. 27 pick in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24.

Murray was asked how well he felt last year's first-round draft choice, Brett Connolly, had improved and if he could be in the Lightning lineup next season.
Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning

"Steve's philosophy throughout the organization is to never rush anyone, but not to hold anyone back," Murray said. "Brett's made a big commitment this year. He's from Prince George, B.C., but he's in Toronto and has been here for a couple of weeks training with a personal trainer.

"He'll stay here for the summer; he's made a significant commitment to put himself in every position to try and make the team and to try and do as well as he can, so with added strength and confidence, we're anxious to see what he looks like in the fall training camp, but there will be no urgency to push Brett into a roster spot."

Murray confirmed that Connolly's hip issues, which limited him for much of the 2009-10 campaign, are ancient history.

"That really wasn't an issue all through last season," Murray said.

In his third season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, Connolly produced 46 goals and 73 points in 59 games.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 11:19 AM

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

Perhonen engineered way up leaderboard

The player with the MacGyver-inspired hair has engineered a way to take the lead in the curl-up competition here at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Finnish goaltender Samu Perhonen didn't need a paper clip, drinking straw, some gum and a comb to hit 68 curl-ups -- just hard work.

Perhonen, who plays for JYP in Finland's junior league, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European netminder. He said during the interview process, a team had asked him about his thick mane of blond locks.

"Someone asked me what the inspiration was for my hair style," Perhonen told NHL.com. "I said, 'I don't know, maybe MacGyver.'"

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 9:43 AM

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

Sharks looking for a match

For the second straight year, the San Jose Sharks have the 28th pick in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft. Last year, they grabbed Charlie Coyle with that pick and watched him flourish as a freshman at Boston University and with the U.S. at the World Junior Championship.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson told NHL.com if he stays at No. 28 this year, he's sure he'll find another solid player. However, he's not afraid to move out of that spot -- either up or down.

"At 28 do we think we'll get a good player? Yes," Wilson said. "But if there's a player we need to move up a couple spots to get, we're willing to do that. And we're willing to move out of that spot and find a couple guys in the second round. We can do that, too."

Wilson said making that decision is two-fold -- obviously there has to be a player in mind, and he also has to find a willing partner to make a deal with.

"I think more and more teams are looking to do that," he said of moving at the draft. "It was tougher five or six years ago. I think there are more teams that are willing to look and be creative … It's matchmaking when you have those conversations."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 7:53 AM

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

Right on the 'Button'

When asked to comment on the life of the late E.J. McGuire, NHL Network analyst Craig Button found just the right words.

"E.J. had foresight and he had vision," Button told NHL.com. "But more than that, he had a love for the future of the game and the future of the game is these young players. We spend too much time picking apart players; E.J. celebrated their gifts and qualities that were going to make them special in the NHL."
              Craig Button, NHL Network analyst

Button was working for both the NHL Network and TSN on Friday during the fitness-testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine at the Toronto Congress Centre.

"This Combine was his vision," Button continued. "It was about making it more thorough, more complete, and giving the teams the information they needed. We talk about the interviewing and fitness testing portion of the Combine, but E.J. was one person who always considered the medical testing equally important. We don't have to go back very far to remember David Carle and how a medical test saved that young boy's life."

An abnormality in Carle's heart that put him at risk for sudden cardiac death if he exerted too much energy was first detected by doctors at the Combine in June, 2008, prompting a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

NHL Central Scouting had Carle rated No. 60 among North American skaters that year, setting him up to go as high as the second round.

Thanks to McGuire's foresight, the young defenseman was properly diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -- a thickening of the heart that had previously been cited in the sudden death of young athletes.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 06.03.2011 / 8:08 PM

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

Top HS prospect gets schooled at Combine

Mario Lucia got his first real taste of what it will take to earn a roster spot with an NHL team.

Lucia, projected to be the first high school player off the board at the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., was one of six scholastic standouts invited to the NHL Scouting Combine this week.

As expected, the Combine experience was something the Wayzata (Minn.) High School junior won't soon forget.

"I'm going to get some rest and a nice hot shower," Lucia told the media following the completion of his fitness testing at the spacious Toronto Congress Centre.


"It was an honor to be here, fun and a dream come true," Lucia continued. "There are hundreds and thousands of players that would like to be here in my position, and I'm just living it up and soaking it all in right now."

The son of University of Minnesota coach Don Lucia offers an incredible release, smarts and knack for putting the puck in the net. He said the bike tests were the most strenuous.

"The VO2 test was easily the hardest; that combination of the Wingate and then getting little rest in between is just a deadly combination," Mario Lucia said. "The Wingate wasn't too bad since it was 30 seconds but that VO2 is intimidating … you just have to go as hard as you can and it's the mental part of it. It's not just going as hard as you can, it's trying to stay focused and not giving up."

Since the 2000 Draft, 156 high school players have been plucked from prep schools throughout the U.S. Since 2003, 135 players have been tabbed.

Lucia, a left wing rated No. 34 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 25 goals and 47 points in 24 games at Wayzata. His team finished the season 20-6-2 following a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Eden Prairie in the Section 6AA championship at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on March 2.

"I mean, everyone wants to be drafted in the first round and it would be a dream to go in the first round but my expectations are, hopefully, early second," Lucia said. "Either way, being drafted is an honor. It doesn't really mean anything at this point since you still have to work your way up there."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 06.03.2011 / 7:30 PM

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

A look at the prospects who aced their Scouting Combine fitness tests

TORONTO -- The first day of NHL Scouting Combine fitness testing here at the Toronto Congress Centre has finished, so it's time to look at a few first-day leaders in some of the categories.

Peak power output -- The Wingate Cycle Ergometer -- also known as the bane of prospects' existence -- measures how hard a player can go in a 30-second shift. Portland Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie and Shawinigan Cataractes defenseman Jonathan Racine led the way at 15.9 watts of energy per kilogram of body weight.

VO2 Max test duration
-- The players who stuck with it the longest were a pair of defensemen, Skelleftea's Adam Larson and the Vancouver Giants' David Musil, each at 14 minutes. Next were Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Saginaw Spirit forward Brandon Saad.

Wing span -- Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Joel Edmundson, who stands 6-foot-4 1/2, had a 79.24-inch wing span, about a quarter-inch longer than Racine, who stands 6-1.

Body fat -- Rogle defenseman Rasmus Bengtsson measured in with only 3.6-percent body fat. The next leanest players were U.S. National Team forward Rocco Grimaldi and Saint John Sea Dogs forward Ryan Tesink at 6.8 percent.

Long jump -- Racine pops up again, setting the standard with 119.3 inches. U.S. National Team defenseman Connor Murphy was second at 115.5.

Vertical jump -- Portland defenseman Joseph Morrow and Saginaw Spirit forward Vincent Trocheck had the best hops, scoring 30.3-inch vertical leaps, just ahead of Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening, who went 30.0 inches. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day was turned in by the 5-foot-6 Grimaldi, who tied Racine for fourth at 29.8 inches.

Curl-ups -- Swift Current Broncos defenseman Reece Scarlett led the way with 51, with Murphy second at 48.

Grip strength -- The player you'd least like to shake hands with is Morrow, who measured 177 pounds with his right hand. The strongest overall grip, however, belonged to Prince Albert Raiders forward Mark McNeill, who was second to Morrow on right-hand grip at 162 pounds, and first with his left hand, also 162.

Bench press -- Clendening, McNeill and Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco each did 13 reps with the 150-pound weight on the bench. Omaha Lancers forward Seth Ambroz and Northeastern defenseman Jamie Oleksiak were next with 12.

Push-ups
-- Clendening led the way with 40. Grimaldi was next with 39.

Push/pull strength
-- The hardest player to clear from the front of the net might be McNeill, who had 32 goals in 72 WHL games this season. His 366 pounds of push strength was far ahead of Oleksiak, who was next at 312. McNeill's pull strength of 306 pounds was second only to U.S. National Team forward Tyler Biggs, who totaled 323 pounds.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley