BUFFALO - Only a handful of invitees to this year’s NHL Scouting Combine have professional hockey experience.

Emil Hemming is one of them.

The winger hails from Vaasa, Finland, and arrives in upstate New York this week having earned 40 games of Finnish Liiga experience with TPS.

He’s a popular figure here, too.

Ranked No. 6 among International Skaters for the upcoming draft, he’s getting to do the rounds with NHL clubs over the past few days - with a goal of wearing one of their sweaters at the end of the month in Las Vegas.

“It was a struggle a little bit with the time change at first, but it’s been great this week,” Hemming said Wednesday through a wide smile. “(I’ve) been excited, talking with the teams.

“I’ve been pretty busy with the teams, I have 29 meetings, so it’s been pretty busy week for me.”

Hemming’s English is fantastic, perhaps the by-product of childhood visits to Florida to spend time with his cousins.

It serves him well in this setting, too.

On the ice, Hemming’s season with TPS was a season of learning. He managed to score 11 points (7G, 4A) in Finland’s top division in 2023-24, despite the fact he doesn’t turn 18 years of age until June 27.

But it was also a season of self-growth, moving from a go-to guy offensively, to a player head coach Tommi Miettinen could trust in a checking role.

“I was excited when I got called up to the men’s team and got to play with them most of the season,” said Hemming. “It was a new role for me to play in the bottom six, fourth-line forward, just checking hard. It was a little bit frustrating at first, then I got comfortable with it.

“It was a good season for me there.”

Hemming says one of his favourite activities away from the rink is cooking. On it, meanwhile, he’s crafting a delicious two-way game, one that he figures will help him progress on his pro hockey journey.

“It helped me a lot, my defensive side got a lot better that season and I became more of a two-way player now,” he said of his new-found role. “I would say it was good (for) me to get this season (and learn) the defensive zone, not only the offensive zone.

“It helped me a lot, this season.”

Hemming’s year also included a pair of high-profile international tournaments.

He scored four times in five games as Finland hosted the IIHF U18 World Championship this spring, but he also earned the call to his country’s world junior team over the holidays.

A pretty impressive accomplishment - playing in a world tournament designed for players two years older than himself.

But Hemming’s got the frame to handle playing against older players. At 6-foot-2, he stands out in the KeyBank Center’s crowded hallways.

And while he’s been one of the busier prospects in the meeting portion of the Combine, his eyes lit up at the mere mention of fitness testing later this week.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“I want to see where I’m at.”