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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Barkov believes he can be top-seven pick

TORONTO -- The NHL Scouting Combine is an opportunity for teams to learn about the players they might take in the 2013 NHL Draft. But sometimes the players learn something about themselves. That was the case for Aleksander Barkov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European skater.

"I didn't know that my English is so good," he said. "I thought that I can't speak but then it was easy."

Barkov already was highly regarded because of his play. The 17-year-old center had 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games with Tappara in sm-Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and had three goals and four assists in seven games for Finland at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:05 PM

By Nathan MacKinnon -  Special to / - Nathan MacKinnon Draft blog

MacKinnon now prepares for NHL Draft

Nathan Mackinnon is in his second season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year. The 6-foot, 182-pound forward has 32 goals, 75 points and a plus-40 rating in 44 regular-season games for the Mooseheads in 2012-13. In 17 playoff games, MacKinnon finished with 11 goals and 33 points to help lead his team to the QMJHL championship. He was then awarded with the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP after finishing with tournament highs of seven goals and 13 points in four games as Halifax won its first Cup crown. MacKinnon, who served as captain for Team Cherry at the 2013 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and represented Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Russia, has offered to provide with a monthly blog leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J.

Hello hockey fans!

Well, I must say there was a little anxiety when I got to this stage but for me it's been great. It was a great experience and a lot of fun at the NHL Combine. I really didn't know what to expect since different teams have different approaches and ask different questions, but it was certainly a great experience.

I didn't go through the fitness portion of the testing [on Friday]. I did the medical examinations and the basic stuff, but that was it. Obviously it's tough to miss out on something like [the fitness tests] because you want to see what you have, but at the same time it's been a great experience and I'm looking forward to the Draft.

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 3:17 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Stars' Jackson looking forward to NHL Draft

TORONTO -- Les Jackson has been scouting prospects for the Dallas Stars organization for 25 years, so he knows there are no guarantees when it comes to the NHL Draft.

"Nothing's for sure," he told "We've picked high and never gotten anybody. You just hope that you draft the right guy if there's a player there and you take him. You work with him, develop him, be patient with him and see what you get."

Jackson, the Stars' assistant general manager, oversees the team's amateur scouting department. This year, the Stars have two first-round picks: their own at No. 10 and the Boston Bruins' pick they acquired in the Jaromir Jagr trade (number yet to be determined).

"Anytime you can get two picks it's a good deal," Jackson said. "It's a good draft this year. We're fortunate. We got one late. We wish our first pick was late, but unfortunately it's 10. It's a deep draft, so I think teams are going to do well in the first top of the draft."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Nurse will have cheering section at draft, with McNabb

TORONTO -- Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse anticipates a large family contingent to join him at Prudential Center on June 30 for the NHL Draft.

Nurse, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, is expected to be chosen among the top 10 players. He told that one of his biggest supporters is his uncle Donovan McNabb, who spent 13 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, including 11 with the Philadelphia Eagles, and is Darnell's uncle by marriage.

"The draft will be a whole family affair, with my aunts and uncles, cousins and my parents," Nurse said at the NHL Scouting Combine. "And Uncle Donovan will be there and he can't wait. He's excited for it too."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 2:25 PM

By Sean Monahan -  Special to / - Sean Monahan Draft blog

Monahan completes fitness tests; Draft next

Sean Monahan, NHL Central Scouting's No. 5-rated skater among the top draft-eligible prospects in North America, is a center for the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-2.25, 187-pound forward led his team with 31 goals, 47 assists, 15 power-play goals and 78 points in 58 games this season for the 67's. Monahan, who was voted among the top three players in four separate categories during the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll in March, has offered to maintain a blog during his stay in Toronto for the NHL Scouting Combine this week.

Hello from the Toronto International Centre!

Well, it's over, the fitness testing is done.

I was really looking forward to this and have been working out for a while now so, obviously I was a little nervous and I had to get something light in my system. So everyone recommended a light breakfast so I had a little fruit smoothie and some oatmeal. I think that was a good choice too.

After that I came in and did the medical testing and it was a process and that was pretty long. I guess I was just getting pretty anxious for the fitness. Once I got there, there were so many people watching and I did get a little more nervous with all the lights on me. But I think I did well and now I know my weaknesses and that's something I'll work on in the summer.

I think the Wingate bike test was the harder of the two tests. It's quick and just 30 seconds and there's a lot of resistance and you have to keep the pace up there but I did the best I could. I'm proud of myself and ready to work on what I need to work on over the summer.

After the tests, I had plenty of interviews to do. I realize this is a process to get to the next level and I want to be a pro and I want to play in the NHL so I think going through this is good experience for me and I'm enjoying all of it.

Overall, the week was great. I got to spend time with good friends and see my competition. I was rooming with [Guelph Storm center] Jason Dickinson and that was fun and meeting all the general managers and scouts was pretty special. I just told them how I feel about my game and what I need to improve on and my goals.

Obviously I'm looking forward to the Draft but I know there's a lot of work to do before that day arrives. I'm just looking forward to getting back in the gym consistently and working hard. I really want to make that jump next year and I think through hard work, it will help me. I feel if I do that and I get drafted I'll be ready for the development camp and make an impression there.

Follow Sean Monahan on Twitter at: @Monahan20

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 1:19 PM

By Seth Jones -  Special to / - Seth Jones Draft blog

Jones heading home after Combine experience

Seth Jones is a defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has solid athletic bloodlines -- his father, Popeye Jones, played 11 seasons in the NBA. The top-ranked player in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones was named the best professional prospect in the WHL, and helped the United States win the gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship. Jones has offered to maintain a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft.

TORONTO -- Checking in from the NHL Scouting Combine for one final time.

My day started pretty early -- the alarm went off at 7:20 a.m. It was a pretty early morning. I had some breakfast and we left the hotel at 8 a.m. for 8:30 medical testing. That took about two hours, an hour longer than it said on the schedule. Little frustrating, but everyone had to do it.

Then came the fitness testing room. That felt weird, for sure. You have hundreds of people's eyes staring at you and staring a hole through you. Cameras in your face, those sorts of things. It definitely is weird. You take your shirt off and everyone is still staring at you and it feels a little more weird. It definitely was an experience to remember.

I did the height and weight measurements and they tested my body fat, but that was it. I skipped out on the fitness tests. We made the decision a couple days ago. My agent, Pat Brisson, pulled me aside and said how are you feeling and those sorts of things. I've been nursing a couple injuries during the year. He said he thinks that it's best that I take the fitness off. I haven't had time to prepare for it. It was definitely both of our decisions.

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:48 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Oilers would consider dealing their first pick

TORONTO -- Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe wasn't ready to talk about what his team's plans were for the 2013 NHL Draft, but did tell that with the seventh pick, "We're going to get another great piece to add to the group."

That's if the Oilers keep the pick.

Edmonton appears to be overflowing with young talent, thanks in part to having the first pick of the draft in each of the previous three years.

Lowe said the decision to keep or move the pick lies with general manager Craig MacTavish, but admitted the organizational mindset is to listen to any suggestions.

"Because the draft is deep, as you move along, if someone offered us something we felt could fit in with our group, a different age and a certain type of positional player we need, we wouldn't be opposed to moving the pick," Lowe said. "Maybe where teams are positioned with the [salary] cap going down, all those sorts of moons aligning could lead to something."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:31 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Father had basketball dreams for Jones

TORONTO -- Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones might make things look easy on the ice, but NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft said he didn't have the easiest time getting started in the sport.

The son of former NBA player Ronald "Popeye" Jones, Seth's father obviously hoped his three sons would follow in his path. Instead, Justin, Seth and Caleb opted for hockey.

Convincing dad they wanted to be hockey players wasn't easy.

"I have two brothers and we all started playing about the same time," Seth said. "He wasn't very happy at the time, but he's fine with it now.

"He was probably expecting all of us [to be basketball players]. A lot of kids want to follow their father's footsteps and do the same things he did. It was a little different in our house."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Quebec's Erne goes first in fitness test

TORONTO -- Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne had the distinction of being the first player to complete the fitness testing circuit at the NHL Scouting Combine.

It wasn't easy, with the giant ballroom packed with NHL scouts and general managers, as well as media members staring at his every move.

"It's different," Erne said. "It really is. I didn't know what to expect with the setup. They're all right in your face, smiling at you. It's different, for sure."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 12:08 PM

By Nick Baptiste -  Special to / - Nick Baptiste Draft blog

Baptiste gearing up for bike tests

Nick Baptiste, No. 61 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible skaters in North America, concluded his second season with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League in 2012-13. The 6-foot, 189-pound right wing produced 21 goals and 48 points in 66 games for the Wolves. He also won a gold medal for Team Canada at the World Under-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia, in April, collecting three goals, eight points and a plus-6 rating in seven tourney games. Baptiste has agreed to take the time and maintain a blog for during his stay at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto this week.

Hi everyone. On Tuesday, I arrived in Toronto and made my way to the hotel. I registered and met up with my roommate Phil Desrosiers and some of the other players. I had a bit of time to catch up with some guys before my first dinner meeting with a team.

On Wednesday morning, my meetings started at 8:45 a.m. I was scheduled to meet 19 teams over the course of the two days and the meetings went well. Each meeting was pretty relaxed. There were a few difficult questions but most teams asked about my season, my strengths and my game.

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Quote of the Day

I was going nuts and I saw [Subban], he was going crazy, and the ref had no idea where to go. [Subban] was skating to me, and I was skating to him and the ref was right in between us and I don't know, I kind of hit him pretty hard, I thought, but those were some emotions and I'm pretty sure he understands that.

— Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk on the celebration following his OT goal against Ottawa in Game 2