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Central Scouting Draft Combine: the off-ice evaluation

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
Jamieson Oleksiak works out on the first day of the 2011 NHL Combine event at the Toronto Congress Centre on June 3, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/NHLI via Getty Images)

CALGARY, AB -- With the NHL Central Scouting Draft Combine a week away, Calgary Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button is preparing to put the finishing touches on the bulk of scouting reports he and his team have compiled on draft-eligible players.

"Right now, for me, I'm trying to gather the information, sort it, disseminate it and then, the stuff we have concerns about ... we've got to dig in on," he told "It's a lot of background work. Talking to coaches, getting the feel for the kids off the ice and preparing for the combine and the whole interview process. It's a lot of administrative work but it's important work."

While the combine is an important tool in crafting complete scouting reports, Button cautioned it is just one part of the process and is not a determining factor when it comes to the final rankings of players.

"We'll make notes coming out of those interviews as far as he said something we need to follow up on. We don't knock guys down on the list or raise guys up on the list based on a good or bad interview but we might get information that we do further digging on, good or bad.

"Their biggest interview is done on the ice. It's what they do on the ice and how we project them as players."

The combine also features physical testing, allowing teams to get a better idea of just how fit each prospect is. Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh will accompany hockey operations to the combine to provide input on how the prospects fare in the physical testing.

"(Hesketh) was helpful last year with Laurent Brossoit," Button noted. "He told us what an athlete he was. We liked him as an athlete, as a goalie and also his character, his compete effort.

"We thought in the sixth round, here's a kid with a tireless work ethic and he's really athletic. You get him with the right goalie coach, he has something to build his game around. There's value in stuff like that."

Heading into the combine, Button estimates he and his staff have 90 percent of their work done on their scouting reports. The combine will allow them to fill in the holes and get their final impression on players.

"We've made notes on who we need to follow up on. The evaluations are done as far as watching games. We'll still go to the Memorial Cup and watch some of that but not much is going to change. We have a big body of work on these players."

In order to complete reports on players that are not attending the combine, Flames scouts will interview players in their respective areas and send their final reports back to Button.

The 2012 NHL Central Scouting Draft Combine begins on May 28th in Toronto, running until June 2nd.

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