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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com 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 NHL.com /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com 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 -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com 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 -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com 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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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 10:51 AM

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

Drouin skips fitness testing portion of Combine

TORONTO -- Jonathan Drouin is five days removed from winning the Memorial Cup, and after 72 games of hockey this season during the regular season, playoffs and international hockey, he opted Friday to not take part in the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine.

Drouin, No. 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft, went through the medical exams and had his height, weight and body fat measured, but chose to skip the more rigorous testing.

"We've been through a lot of hockey lately," Drouin said. "Just came back [from the Memorial Cup] four days ago. We didn't want to hurt each other. We didn't train a long time, no off-ice stuff. Just a little dangerous to do it."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 10:39 AM

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

Top prospects begin infamous bike testing

TORONTO -- Is there any doubt that the words "bike test" are enough to make any top draft-eligible prospect uneasy in the week leading up to the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine?

It's a frozen moment in time for any blue-chip athlete looking to make an impression on NHL scouts and general managers. The heart starts beating faster the moment those technicians duct tape both feet to the pedals in preparation for those two infamous tests: the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and VO2 Max.

Those familiar with the VO2 Max, which measures the endurance capability of a player's heart, lungs and muscles, knows it happens to be the most grueling of all the endurance tests conducted by York University for the benefit of the 30 NHL teams.

The Wingate peak power output test measures the explosiveness of a skater and could provide critical information in learning how quickly a player might be able to begin a transition up ice.

Last year, one player lasted at least 14 minutes on the VO2: Swedish defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who was drafted No. 6 by the Anaheim Ducks.

NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-rated North American skater in 2012, Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting, lasted 12:25 on the VO2.

Defenseman Mathew Dumba, drafted No. 7 by the Minnesota Wild, lasted 11 minutes.

"That's a killer, you come right off the Wingate and guys are throwing up in the back and your legs are just shot and you've got another one [VO2] to go," Dumba said. "It's pretty hard to bear down and it really challenges you."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 8:58 PM

By Seth Jones -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Seth Jones Draft blog

Jones ready to relax, prepare for testing

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 NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft.

Hello again from Toronto. Things have been going real well up here. I had about 10 more meetings today. It's pretty exciting. I had Tampa Bay today and I got the chance to meet Steve Yzerman, which is pretty cool.

I also met with Colorado today. I'm not sure who was in the room. I guess Patrick Roy came in today but I didn't get to meet him. Colorado really didn't treat me any different. I talked to a lot of other guys that went in with them and they pretty much asked the same questions -- if I think I'm NHL-ready, what can I bring to the team next year -- that sort of thing.

After the meetings I had an event to announce I signed an endorsement deal with CCM-Reebok. They've been great to me. I finally got it finalized tonight. It feels good to be in a family with a lot of great players -- Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. So it's pretty cool to do that. They have a lot of young guys with Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Galchenyuk, also. Definitely feels like a big family. The gear is awesome. I switched last summer and I've loved it ever since. I don't see myself going to another brand.

We announced the deal with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. They're both great players. I've had the chance to play with them and against them a couple times. It's pretty cool sharing some of the same experiences as your friends.


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Quote of the Day

I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

— Martin St. Louis after announcing his retirement from the NHL on Thursday