It's easy to see why with possibly six picks over the opening two rounds. Entering this year's Draft, slated June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman will have two first-round picks and three, possibly four, in the second.
With this many picks at his disposal, Tampa Bay Director of Amateur Scouting, Al Murray, certainly has his work cut out.
"Steve has put us in a position with two first-round picks and three seconds, maybe a fourth, so we're going to be able to get a little bit of everything if we want," Murray told NHL.com. "We can go for a defenseman, a goalie, a center or wing or just load up at a certain position. We're entering the Draft pretty open-minded and trying to rank the best 40 players of the group."
Defenseman Ryan Murray is captain of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan won a bronze medal playing for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship and was also the second-youngest player to ever appear for Canada at the Men's World Championships. Despite his busy schedule, Murray submitted one final blog on Friday upon his completion of the 2012 NHL Scouting Combine.
Hi everyone. The NHL Combine has come and gone.
I got a good sleep [Thursday] night and wasn't too nervous. I think I had a little too much to eat [Friday] morning though. I had a big breakfast and that didn't hold up too well -- after the Wingate test I felt good for a couple minutes. I felt that wasn't so hard, and then went into the back room and started getting nauseous and, as soon as I sat down, felt really dizzy and just wasn't feeling well. So I figured I'd just force it out since I was going to do the VO2 Max next.
I kind of knew what to expect a little bit. I knew it would be tough and it was.
At the start of the testing, there are scouts everywhere just sort of staring at you as you're going through the testing and it's a bit intimidating, but I just tried to block them out and focus on the test. I thought the Wingate wasn't that hard because it was only 30 seconds; I just closed my eyes and just went as hard as I could. I thought the VO2 was harder.
During the VO2, at around the eight-minute mark, you're trying to keep up with the RPM's and going absolutely full out and you're breathing through the tube and it's a little different because they're plugging your nose. You're trying to get air and going so long, you completely max your body out.
Overall, I had fun and despite being a little nervous for the first couple of interviews, I was fine after the first two or three. It was most of the same stuff and I just felt more comfortable. I got to meet some new guys here at the testing and it was very tough, but very satisfying afterwards when you can kind of take a seat. I can honestly say I really pushed my body to the limit.
Thanks for reading my blog during the NHL Combine. Next up ... the NHL Draft.
TORONTO -- While NHL scouts, general managers and strength coaches are focused on the physical attributes of the prospects taking part in the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine, at times there are other traits that come shining through during the exercise.
Ottawa Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion shared one such instance of that occurring, and it involves a player that now has become part of the NHL's elite.
In 2006, Dorion and current Senators assistant GM Tim Murray were working for the New York Rangers when they were eyeing a slender forward prospect preparing for the bench press test.
NEWARK, N.J. -- For the Kings to win their 10th straight road game in these playoffs and take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick said they don't have to change much from their Game 1 performance.
Roenick is instead putting the onus on the Devils to capitalize when they have the chance and establish their forecheck from the get-go in Game 2 Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
For more of Roenick's thoughts heading into Game 2, check out this Q&A he did with NHL.com:
NHL.com: What do the Devils have to do to win Game 2?
JR: Obviously this is the biggest game of their season. You can't fall down 2-0 to a team as hot as the L.A. Kings. For me, what I saw last game, the opportunities that were missed by the Devils -- open nets, missed passes, quality, quality scoring chances that they had that had they converted it would have been a much different game -- they have to convert on those in Game 2. Both teams had quality chances, but the Devils especially. David Clarkson had a couple. Zach Parise had a golden one that he just couldn't get a stick on it. I think a lot of it had to do with the ice conditions, the puck was bouncing a lot. The players won't blame it, but I think the ice was to blame for some bad bounces that helped keep the puck out of the net. Regardless, they have to convert on all those chances.
NHL.com: How do they go about getting more chances than they had in Game 1, because they had only 18 shots on goal?
JR: I think they have to get on their forecheck harder. I don't think they put enough pressure on L.A.'s defense. They made a couple of big mistakes. Their 'D' got beat on the first goal by a hard forecheck, a turnover, and the puck goes to the back of the net without the proper coverage. They have to tighten up and put more pressure on the L.A. defense to create more turnovers.
NHL.com: If they are able to do that, do you think it'll be enough to win against a Kings team that is finding a way in just about every game it plays?
JR: It's going to give them the best opportunity. You can't say it for sure it will be enough, because you can't predict the future, but it will give the Kings a lot more to handle. I do think Jersey has the ability to forecheck harder and they have to test them to that capacity. If they don't, L.A. will continue to pick them apart.
NHL.com: What do the Kings have to do to take a 2-0 lead in the series?
JR: I don't think they have to change much. They moved the puck well. They stayed out of the penalty box. They got some really good forechecking in. They created some good scoring opportunities. All in all, they have to make sure they don't turn the puck over in neutral ice. Sometimes when Jersey got more chances the puck was turned over in neutral ice, either by the defense or the centerman, and then the Devils were able to transition very quickly.
NHL.com: How do the Kings avoid the pitfalls of those turnovers considering you know the Devils are going to want to pounce?
JR: For me, it's about making sure they control the puck and control the blue lines. The blue lines are very important. And they really just have to play as sturdy a defensive game and as boring a game as they possibly can to get the fans nervous, restless and quiet. Maybe they can steal another game out of the Devils building.
NHL.com: The Kings have been at their best in Game 2s. Does that matter now? Does it give them a psychological advantage?
JR: No, I don't think it does. I really think the Kings are in a zone physically, mentally. I don't think they're looking at it being Game 1, Game 2 or Game 3. They are taking it one game at a time. They're keeping it simple. They are moving the puck well. They don't care if they're up or down, they're just playing a hockey game, one at a time. Darryl Sutter is making third and fourth lines feel like they're a huge part of this team, and he's challenging the top lines to be better. That's a beautiful way to bring the whole team into the mix. I think Darryl Sutter deserves a lot of credit for bringing in a very strong mentality in that locker room.
Thursday was a day off and a pretty light day at the rink. We had an optional skate and I think most of the guys opted to stay off the ice to get some maintenance, play some soccer and just kind of hang out and recharge.
When we're on the road, practices are always later in the day, normally in the afternoon. Obviously, the home team gets the earlier ice time. Yesterday our practice was scheduled for 2 p.m., so we got to the rink at about 1 p.m. Normally, with practice, it would be a light practice -- a quick on and off.
When we got to the rink, we played some soccer outside the dressing room, did some stretching, some guys went and got ice -- whatever guys had to do get themselves ready.
TORONTO -- Mikhail Grigorenko sat out the fitness testing of the Scouting Combine while he continues to recover from a bout of mononucleosis. However, he assured NHL decision-makers he would be 100 percent before teams are scheduled to report to training camps in September. In fact, the Quebec Remparts center said he'd be ready to go by the time teams hold summer rookie camps.
"Mini-camp will be in two months or something, so I'll be ready," he said. "In a few days I will start to train, so I have all summer to train."
Grigorenko said he didn't even know he was sick until after the Remparts lost to the Halifax Mooseheads in the quarterfinals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. He had 10 points in 11 games, but just three goals, leading some to question his work ethic.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer has a lot of unique ties to the Kings.
For instance, Mike Richards played for him when he was the head coach of the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. DeBoer is close with Brent Sutter, the former Devils coach who is also one of the younger brothers of Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
The one that flies under the radar is his previous relationship with Kings forward Justin Williams, who played for DeBoer when he was the head coach of the OHL's Plymouth Whalers.
DeBoer was asked about Williams on Friday. He relayed the story of how he met him and why he has the utmost respect for Williams.
"I drafted him in the sixth round out of Junior C in, I believe, Cobourg, Ont., which is outside Belleville," DeBoer said. "Kid came in and didn't make our team the first year. We put him down on the Tier 2 team. He just kept hanging around. You could tell he was a good hockey player, but was about 150 pounds. He had a great heart.
"Next year, he came back to camp, played for one year for me, was a first-round pick, (and I) never saw him again. He stepped right into Philadelphia. Great story of perseverance. I've got a lot of time for Justin."
Matt Dumba is a defenseman for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-11.75, 183-pound defenseman was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. He also had a tournament-high 12 points -- all assists -- to help Canada Pacific win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This summer, he played for Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also took part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Dumba has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
When I first arrived in Toronto for the Scouting Combine, I was real nervous. Everything that I heard from everyone, I was pretty scared about the interviews. I didn't know what they were going to ask. But after the first couple I got some confidence, and I thought they really went well. I'm a pretty good speaker, so they just went smooth for me.
I had 19 interviews altogether, but I remember starting the first and being real nervous. As I went on, though, it got better and better and I got more relaxed and more confident as I went through.
I didn't get any strange questions -- nothing at all. Everyone else said they had something, but not me.
The fitness testing was a totally different experience. I looked in the testing room and I'd never seen something like that before. I had kind of heard stories and everything, but it was really cool, how it's all set up, how everyone is watching, critiquing you -- kind of nervous and scary at the same time. Once you get into the testing, and I started doing my thing, it was all good.
It's intimidating, for sure, but as you get comfortable in your own skin and taking off your shirt and stuff, it's good. I knew I was prepared for it all and I knew I was going to fare well on all the tests. I was happy with that.
I thought I did good on the vertical leap and especially the long jump -- I almost jumped off the mat there. And the pushups, I did really well on that.
The bikes tests were really tough. We bike a little in Red Deer at my gym in the summer, but we never did that. It's not a part of that. I'm not sure how they correlate to hockey, but I know what scouts are looking for -- how you battle and compete. I just wanted to go on there and do my best in that and give everything I have.
The Wingate test was first and it's tough. You've got to definitely focus in for those full 35 seconds. And it really is 35 -- you start and they say faster, faster and then you go and you've got to hit that for 30 seconds. I was good. I don't think I dropped off too much. I really pushed through. Wingate was one of my stronger ones.
The VO2 was next and I had done that at my gym before, but nothing like this. That was tough. I really put everything into it. At one point I think I blacked out. I didn't even know what I was doing -- I was just going. I don't know what happened, just the animal inside took over. It was good, though.
I'm done now, and it was a really good week. I'm happy I did this.