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Over 100 draft hopefuls invited to NHL Combine in Buffalo

by Mike G. Morreale / Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, the projected top three picks at the 2016 NHL Draft, are among the 114 players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft who have been invited to the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine.

The event will be held at First Niagara Center and the HarborCenter in Buffalo from May 30 to June 4.

Matthews, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Scottsdale, Ariz., had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games for Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. He was second in voting for league MVP and won the league's Rising Star award.

He's No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters for the 2016 draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center on June 24-25.

Laine (6-4, 206) had 17 goals, 33 points and 253 shots on goal in 46 games for Tappara in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. He had 10 goals and 15 points in 18 postseason games and was named playoff MVP while helping Tappara win the Liiga title.

Puljujarvi (6-3, 203) had 13 goals, 28 points and 175 shots on goal while averaging 15:04 of ice time per game in 50 games with Karpat in Liiga.

Laine and Puljujarvi helped Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Puljujarvi, 17, led the tournament with 17 points, the most by an under-18 player since Jaromir Jagr of Czechoslovakia had 18 points at the 1990 WJC. He also was named the best forward and most valuable player of the tournament. Laine tied Matthews for the WJC lead with seven goals.

The Combine gives all 30 NHL teams a complete physical and medical assessment of the top prospects three weeks before the draft.

"The Combine week is always an interesting event for Central Scouting that seems to go by very quickly," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "The goal is to present an event that allows NHL personnel to interact with the future stars of our game and assist the NHL clubs in their pursuit of gaining as much knowledge about the draft prospects as possible. Central Scouting looks forward to hosting the prospects during Combine week so that they can further showcase themselves."

Teams will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the prospects at First Niagara Center from May 30 through June 3. The medical examinations will take place June 2, and a majority of the fitness testing will take place at HarborCenter on June 4.

No player can test until clearing the medical screening.

Among the top North American skaters invited to the Combine are left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois (6-2, 201) of Cape Breton in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, left wing Matthew Tkachuk (6-1, 200) of London in the Ontario Hockey League, left wing Alexander Nylander (6-0, 180) of Mississauga in the OHL, and defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6-2, 205) of Sarnia in the OHL.

Nine goaltenders were invited to the Combine, among them Evan Fitzpatrick of Sherbrooke of the QMJHL and Filip Gustavsson of Lulea's team in Sweden's junior league. Fitzpatrick (6-3, 206) is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goaltenders and Gustavsson (6-1, 184) is No. 1 on the final ranking of international goaltenders.

View the complete list of Scouting Combine invitees on NHL.com.

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