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2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

McGuire's 'teammates' remember him fondly

Monday, 05.30.2011 / 11:48 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TORONTO -- While still saddened by the fact their inspirational leader won't be a part of this year's Scouting Combine, the folks at NHL Central Scouting went about their usual business this week in Toronto.

"E.J. was not a good typist and so we thought we'd get a computer dictation program for him to use, and he tried it, but no computer in the world could keep up with him. It was an admirable effort, but even computers failed him."
-- Jack Gerien

It's what EJ McGuire would have expected.

It wasn't too long ago several of the scouts spoke exclusively with via a conference call to reflect on the life of the man who always will hold a special place in their hearts. McGuire, the long-time director and Vice President of Central Scouting, died of cancer April 7.

McGuire was known as one of the most dedicated and respected individuals you'd ever want to meet. But did you know this avid runner once challenged former NHL forward Al Secord in a race?

Prospects to be tested off the ice at Combine

Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Just because Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll have the highest average power output of any other player on the board upon completion of the anaerobic fitness exam.

The proof will be in the pudding, as the old adage goes, when Nugent-Hopkins is among the top 102 draft-eligible players from North American and Europe to undergo rigorous testing and medical examinations at the NHL Scouting Combine from May 30 to June 4 in Toronto.

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Nugent-Hopkins told "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it's going to be a lot of fun. I know I'm really looking forward to talking with some teams and being able to meet some of the top prospects from around the world."

Bieksa shows that the college route works

Saturday, 05.28.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

"Let's be realistic. At 16 years old, how many kids are actually going to make the NHL? So I wanted a fall-back plan. I didn't want to put all my eggs all in one basket, so I thought I'd go to school and get an education. The college route was picking up then and if I could make the NHL out of college, great, and if not, I had a (finance) degree to fall back on. I'd always been a pretty good student, so I think I made the right decision."
-- Kevin Bieksa

To the five collegians invited to the upcoming NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa has some uplifting news with regard to the college way of life.

Following a three-year stint in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Burlington Cougars, Bieksa had the choice of attending Bowling Green State University of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association or playing for the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey League.

"It was going to be Mississauga's inaugural season and I was drafted by them in the later rounds, but went to their camp nonetheless," Bieksa told "It was a tough decision because of all the hoopla going on, with Don Cherry taking over the franchise. I was a big fan of his and it was something I really wanted to be a part of. I made the team and had a sit-down with my dad to really go over my options."

Gibson the top name(s) when it comes to goalies

Friday, 05.27.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There isn't much that separates goalies John Gibson of the U.S. National Team Development Program and Christopher Gibson of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

John Gibson of Whitehall, Pa., has been regarded as the No. 1 goalie by NHL Central Scouting since the start of the season, while Christopher Gibson of Karkkila, Finland, has locked down the No. 2 slot.

"The top two guys have a very similar style … there's not much separation other than consistency," Central Scouting's head goalie scout, Al Jensen, told "I think John has maybe been a little more consistent in his game over the course of the year. But it's a very fine line between these two. I have no problems saying they are quality goalies and as I followed them, it just solidified my thinking of how good they really are.

Nugent-Hopkins the star of deep center crop

Thursday, 05.26.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There is certainly no shortage of top-tier centers eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25.

The list is not only lengthy, but exceptionally impressive. That's not to say grabbing one of the top centers in the early rounds will bring you an NHL-ready pivot in 2011-12, but let's just say whichever NHL franchise opts for a middle man will be reaping the benefits some three years down the road.

"The consensus with everyone I've talked to, as well as coaches, is that this draft is deeper but it doesn't have five or six guys right off the top that you can say are going to jump right in and play right away," NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee told 

Morrow grabs own share of attention

Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League aren't the only team with a plethora of draft-eligible talent waiting to be selected.

Don't overlook the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. In addition to forwards Sven Baertschi and Ty Rattie, defenseman Joseph Morrow is a prime candidate to hear his name announced in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft, on June 24, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Born in 1992, Morrow never had an opportunity to watch his dad, Dave, play the game. But that hasn't stopped him from learning all the positive details. The elder Morrow was drafted in the fourth round (No. 56) in the 1977 Amateur Draft by the Vancouver Canucks but never played in the NHL. He did spend three seasons playing professional hockey, including 10 games with the WHA's Indianapolis Racers in 1978-79.

Rakell showed skills in first N. American season

Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Looking for a sleeper in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft? Look no further than Plymouth Whalers right wing Rickard Rakell of the Ontario Hockey League.

While left wing Gabriel Landeskog might be the top Swedish-born forward participating at the NHL Scouting Combine next week in Toronto, Rakell might be the top Swedish-born right wing strutting his stuff at the six-day event. When Landeskog suffered an ankle injury in Sweden's first game of the World Junior Championship in Buffalo in January, Rakell finished with a respectable 3 assists in five games.

"I liked him a lot; he did a lot for his draft status at the (WJC)," one NHL scout from the Western Conference told

How Oleksiak is prepping for Combine

Monday, 05.23.2011 / 1:30 PM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Northeastern University defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak, the tallest draft-eligible player on the board for the 2011 Entry Draft at 6-foot-7, 244-pounds, is currently making the most of his time in the Boston area prior to heading out to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto next week.

Oleksiak informed that in addition to taking extra classes, he's hard at work preparing for the rigorous fitness testing he'll undergo at the Toronto Congress Center beginning June 3.

"I've been working with a strength coach (Dan Boothby of Northeastern) Monday through Friday, preparing for the Combine," Oleksiak told "We'll do testing a couple times, doing the Wingate and VO2 tests maybe once or twice. I'll definitely work on stuff that'll help me for the Combine and kind of get me ready so I'm at peak performance going in there."

Landeskog leads draft-eligible left wingers

Monday, 05.23.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Draft Combine Presented by Reebok

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

In addition to being the top-rated left wing available at the NHL Entry Draft next month, Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers might also be the most NHL-ready prospect on the board.

While the 6-1/2, 207-pound Swede dropped to No. 2 overall on NHL Central Scouting's final ratings of North American skaters in April, he'll remain a highly-coveted commodity come June 24 when the opening round of the draft is held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

"He's more mature than the other top picks right now and he could probably step in and play sooner than the other picks depending on which team takes him," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told "He reminds me a lot of former Kitchener Ranger (and current Philadelphia Flyers captain) Mike Richards. He sticks up for his teammates, he's strong at both ends of the rink and he competes as hard, if not harder, than anybody. He's got all the assets that you need to be a team leader; that's what you'd want your No. 1 pick to be."
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