BUFFALO - The NHL Scouting Combine wrapped up Saturday, with the top NHL Draft prospects running through a maze of fitness tests and media availabilities before breaking camp after a busy week in Western New York.

No more pull-ups, no more Wingate cycle tests.

But NHL clubs, including the Flames, now have all the available data to pore over, as preparations for the draft continue.

Amid it all, the prospects got the opportunity to showcase a bit of personality for the throng of media assembled at Buffalo’s LECOM HarborCenter.

Combing The Combine

Watch interviews with more than 20 of the top prospects, GM Craig Conroy and more as part of FlamesTV's in-depth coverage from Buffalo!

Like Father, Like Son

Tij Iginla was one of the most popular interviews in Saturday’s media session, and for good reason.

The Kelowna Rockets forward scored 47 goals in 2023-24 and shot up the NHL Central Scouting rankings, landing at No. 9 on the final North American list.

One reporter made mention of the fact that many in the assembled group covered his father, Jarome, over the course of his Hall of Fame career.

A comment that Tij has probably heard a thousand times, but he was happy to share stories about his father’s influence, and the time his family had Nathan MacKinnon over for Thanksgiving dinner.

“I was probably still at the kid’s table,” Tij joked.

But despite sharing that same trademark smile, the younger Iginla is determined to forge his own path in the game.

“Growing up, obviously saw my Dad in the NHL, it was kind of always my dream to get there as well,” he said. “It always felt so far away, I was just a kid on the outdoor rink thinking ‘When’s my Draft year? 2024?’ It seems so far away but now it’s come pretty quick.

“It’s been a lot of fun and the week here has been fun, too.”

"My motivation comes from within"

Being the son of an NHL forward has its perks, like the aforementioned dinner while his father played with the Avalanche.

But at the root of it, Iginla recognizes just how fortunate he’s been.

“I think I’ve had a lot of advantages that other kids haven’t, so I think I’ve been very blessed to have my Dad, and be in a family that’s so into hockey, it’s kind of the main focus in our house,” he said. “To have my siblings, as well, they’re really into it too. I think we kind of have a good environment, boost each other up. When I see my brother or sister shooting pucks in the garage, then, you know, I’m going after. That’s been good for me, and them too, growing up.

“(I’ve) learned so much from my Dad, I think he has a really good mind for the game, and a great Dad as well.”

"Its a big deal to all these young guys"

The comparisons will exist long after Iginla is selected by an NHL club, and no doubt, there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the 18-year-old ahead of Draft weekend in Las Vegas.

He’s taken notes over the course of his childhood, though, on staying present, and staying focused.

Even with Dad in the spotlight for much of it.

“I think kind of my whole life, obviously my Dad’s been there with me, and I think I’ve gotten used to answering questions and hearing about him,” Iginla said. “From an outside perspective, it might seem like there’s more pressure, more expectations, things like that but I think for me, my motivation comes from within.

“I want to succeed because it’s what I want to do, and my dream, and I’m going to try and block out the outside noise as much as I can.”


Berkly The Builder

Berkly Catton picked up a new hobby last summer, and his handiwork helped him jump from 23 goals in 2022-23, to an eye-popping 54 last season with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.

Catton constructed his own shooter tutor out of wood, setting it up in the yard at his family home in Saskatoon to help out with his accuracy.

“I wanted to improve my shot a little bit,” he explained, acknowledging his construction project involved a bit of trial and error. “I was bored one day, so I figured it out.

“It’s probably not made very well, but it’s held together!”

"That's where I've mastered those little skills"

Once it was complete, Catton broke out the Road Warrior gear to complete his design.

“It’s funny, (it’s made) of kind of street hockey equipment and stuff, so it’s getting wrecked pretty quick, but it does the job I think,” he chuckled. “It has goalie equipment and everything. It’s pretty funny, actually.

“It looks pretty real.”

And from the sounds of things, the makeshift netminder got absolutely thrashed over the course of the summer, as Catton launched puck after puck at it in preparation for the 2023-24 campaign.

How many pucks, exactly?

No one knows for sure.

“To me, I’m not really counting,” Catton said.

“I just enjoy being back there and working on my craft.”


Question Of The Day

The prospects were forced to think outside the box this week then being interviewed by NHL clubs.

One team asked players about their Uber score, another asked their interviewees to choose between the role of sniper, medic or helicopter pilot if they were in the Army.

But several players also took time to share details about what animal they’d choose to be (hypothetically, of course), and why.

“I said a dolphin actually,” Catton told reporters. “You know, a smart animal that’s kind of slippery, which I think resonates to me on the ice.”

Ottawa 67’s defenceman Henry Mews didn’t get that particular query from an NHL club, but agreed with Catton when pressed by reporters.

“If I had to pick an animal, it would have been a dolphin,” Mews said. “I’m a really smart player, dolphins are the smartest animals, they travel as a group, right, and I love my teammates and I’m a really good teammate.”


Prince Albert Raiders forward - and Calgary native - Ryder Ritchie explained he’d be a cross between an owl and a shark.

The owl, for IQ reasons, and the shark?

Well, it bites.

But the most unique answer of the day was uttered by Iginla, who had the media in stitches when he explained his response.

“They said, ‘You can’t say lion or dog,’ ‘cause everyone says that, and I wanted to go with one they probably hadn’t heard,” he recalled. “So just kind of on the spot, I was like ‘I’m a pegasus!’ It’s a mythical creature, it’s like a horse with wings. I was like, it’s a horse, so I feel like I could be sociable and friendly, and hang out with the other horses, but when it’s time to ascend, I’ve got the wings too.

“I’ll just try to fly.”

Director of Sports Performance Rick Davis on Combine testing