TORONTO -- The newest element incorporated into the NHL Scouting Combine, the Functional Movement Screen, introduced last year, was again a big hit with the top prospects.
The exam requires players to perform seven specific joint tests that ultimately could reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body.
"All players were screened through the various movements and the results are available for the NHL strength coaches, some of which observed the players going through the screening," Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "The screening was also videotaped and is available for strength coaches to utilize in team draft preparation and for training programs if that team drafts the player."
Each movement in the seven tests is scored on a scale of 0-3, meaning that the highest possible total score is 21. According to research provided by NHL Central Scouting, a score of less than 14 might indicate a 75 percent likelihood of a future muscular or joint injury.
Roni Jamnik, an associate professor at York University in Toronto, was one of the individuals administering the screening, which was held Thursday at the Westin Bristol Place.
"It takes about 15 minutes to complete and I refer to it as a screen and not a test, where we're looking at the body alignment by having the athletes do common movements that challenge the body," Jamnik said. "These screenings could bring out some symmetric deficiencies that could be problematic down the road."
Ontario Hockey League defensemen Anthony DeAngelo of the Sarnia Sting and Alexander Peters of the Plymouth Whalers considered one segment of the screening as the toughest.
"A couple of guys, including myself, struggled with balancing on one side while extending the other side," Peters said. "A lot of the movements were a bit different and some, if you're not very flexible, could be challenging. But everybody went through it pretty quickly."
DeAngelo also acknowledged that balancing on one side was a struggle.
"I did some of the stuff before, but there were a couple of things I never saw," DeAngelo said. "It was a lot of balance and core strength stuff. There was one test where you had to lift your same side arm and leg at the same time while keeping the other side on the ground; that was kind of tough.
"There were trainers watching to see if you were off-balance or need more core strength. I think it's a positive test to take."
Marr said the FMS screening is ideally done before a player has his medical exam. All players at the Combine underwent medical examinations on Friday.
"A majority of NHL teams utilize FMS in some form and the NFL has been performing this screening as part of the medical process for their combine for a number of years," Marr said. "This is something you ideally want to do prior to the medical examinations so that the FMS results can be screened and provided to the doctors before the player is examined."
FMS scores are indicators that if an athlete continues on his current training path without correction, then he's at higher risk of injury. Strength coaches can use the FMS scores to establish corrective exercises for the athlete to achieve mechanically sound movement patterns. FMS also creates a "functional baseline" to mark progress and can be used as part of a "return to play" protocol for injured players.