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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Scouting Combine

Combine continuing to grow, help teams with Draft process

Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 1:51 PM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The NHL Scouting Combine certainly has come a long way since the days of fitness testing in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton hotel here.

That was evident this week when the 19th Combine was held at the Westin Bristol Place and Toronto International Centre.

The professionalism exhibited by the entire NHL Central Scouting staff, the maturity of the fresh-faced prospects and the heightened awareness of the event aided in the popularity of what now is considered one of the NHL's premier events leading up to the draft.

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Yakupov's fitness testing performance gets solid reviews

Friday, 06.01.2012 / 6:15 PM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- This was the moment Nail Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, had been waiting for -- a chance to prove to every NHL scout and general manager that he deserves to be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft on June 22 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The 18-year-old right wing from the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League certainly did his part Friday during the fitness stage of the NHL Scouting Combine at the Toronto International Centre.

Yakupov successfully survived the 13 individual tests designed to evaluate the strength and fitness of the draft hopefuls, including the grueling bike tests -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and the VO2 Max test.

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Kovalchuk's beginnings suggested Cup greatness

Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 12:45 PM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Long before he was named the Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr served as the chief scout for the Atlanta Thrashers.

It was in that capacity that Marr decided that the Atlanta Thrashers shoUld select Ilya Kovalchuk with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla.

"Ilya Kovalchuk was the guy … for sure," Marr told NHL.com.

A little more than 10 years later, the three-time NHL All-Star is now hoping to fulfill a childhood dream of helping his current team, the New Jersey Devils, win a Stanley Cup. Kovalchuk's Devils play host to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

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USNTDP players hope their future gets them to where Brown, Parise are today

Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 9:02 AM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"Dustin Brown hits and competes so hard and that's why they've gotten so far … because their captain has led the way. Zach Parise is the same way. He throws hits every game and produces and is an all-round player. That gritty mentality that they have is special, and it's something where it's got their teams to where they are right now." -- USNTDP forward Nicolas Kerdiles

TORONTO -- Don't think for a second that all those U.S.-born draft prospects invited to the NHL Scouting Combine this week aren't paying close attention the Stanley Cup Final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings.

Of the 27 American-made players participating at the Combine this year, five are members of the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team. Each realizes that for the first time since 1999, an American-born captain will have the opportunity to be the first to raise the Stanley Cup after winning the deciding game of the series.

Significant? You bet.

The lucky captain will be either Minneapolis native Zach Parise of the Devils or Ithaca, N.Y.-bred Dustin Brown of the Kings.

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Combine could be key for players who were injured

Tuesday, 05.29.2012 / 9:12 AM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Will the 2012 NHL Scouting Combine play a greater role than in past annual evaluation events considering the unusually high number of injuries to top draft-eligible talent this season?

It's very possible. But NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan, who specializes in talent out of the Western Hockey League, believes it might really be as bad you might think.

"Injuries are calculated differently than they were 10 years ago, when there might have been as many but nobody knew they were really hurt [since the medical technology wasn't as advanced]," Sullivan told NHL.com. "Now, they're evaluated so deeply that if there's a slight cause for concern, you have to sit out. Ten years ago they'd play, so to say there are more injuries today than there were before, that's a tough one."

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Combine provides NHL teams with well-rounded look

Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 2:03 PM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Don't think Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov will ace every interview and endurance test at the NHL Scouting Combine just because he was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft.

Still, there's always that chance.

Professional scouts and general managers will find out when Yakupov joins 104 other draft-eligible players from North America and Europe for the physical, mental and medical testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, which runs from May 28 to June 2 in Toronto.

"What the players have to keep in mind is that this will be their initial contact with many NHL teams, so they have the chance to make that initial impression," NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr told NHL.com. "Some kids aren't that comfortable when they're in an interview environment so you just kind of have to tell them they need to be a little prepared to talk about themselves, which is something they might not be used to doing.

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Yakupov, Forsberg top Scouting Combine invites

Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 12:53 PM / NHL Scouting Combine

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The top 105 players available for the 2012 NHL Draft will congregate in Toronto at the end of May for the annual NHL Scouting Combine.

This year's invitation list includes the top 88 North American players (78 skaters, 10 goalies) and top 17 European performers (14 skaters, three goalies).

Among the North American contingent is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated skater, Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov, who has 80 goals and 170 points in 107 games spanning two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. Top European center Filip Forsberg of Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan in Sweden will also be in attendance. Forsberg had eight goals and 17 points in 43 games with Leksand this season.

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2012 NHL Draft