They're all guests at an exclusive party -- also known as the 2009 NHL Scouting Combine -- that will feature more than 100 of the best draft-eligible players from North America and Europe. The players will be put through a vigorous round of physical, medical and psychological tests that could determine where they are chosen when the teams convene in Montreal on June 26-27.
"The Scouting Combine is designed to bring together in one spot, in an economical move, and Central Scouting has been charged with that mission … the League GMs say bring your top 100 rated players to one spot and then we'll get a crack at them," NHL Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire told NHL.com.
The event will be held May 25-30, and for the second straight year at the Westin Bristol Place hotel in Toronto. The players will be poked, prodded and have their every word and movement judged. One thing they won't have to do, however, is lace up the skates.
McGuire says there are a number of reasons for not putting the prospects on skates. First, for the top players, teams likely have seen them multiple times in person or on video already.
Also, there's the fact that some players, including many with U.S. colleges and high schools, haven't been on the ice since February, while others will have played in the Under-18 World Championships or just finished at the Memorial Cup, which ends the same week as the Combine.
"Is it fair to the kid whose high school season ended in February to stand next to the kid who (just) played in a championship game?" McGuire asked. "It might be unfair to the Memorial Cup participant if the (high school) kid had just been doing the Combine tests, sprinting five times as week, and not having to practice. That Memorial Cup guy, did he block a shot to win a championship and his ankle is sore?"
Instead, the players are put through their paces in a three-hour crucible which includes events as simple as the sit and reach, push-ups and sit-ups, right through a pair of high-tech torture chambers -- exercise bike tests that measure anaerobic fitness and an aerobic-max VO2 test.
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