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Pryor Comments on NHL Combine

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers

(Voorhees, NJ) – With the calendar recently flipping from May to June, the first big event of the NHL’s offseason is now in plain view, and the Flyers’ front office is in full swing preparing for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal.

The event takes place on June 26-27 at the Bell Centre, but Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren and several members of his staff attended the draft combine in Toronto last week as they continue to evaluate prospects. Also in attendance were Chris Pryor, the director of hockey operations; Don Luce, the director of player development; and scouts Dennis Patterson and Ilkka Sinisalo.

A total of 103 draft-eligible players attended the combine after receiving an invitation from NHL Central Scouting. One of those players will likely be the Flyers’ first round draft pick this year. Philadelphia will pick 21st overall.
Chris Pryor is confident the Flyers will get a top prospect with their first round pick. (Flyers Photos)

Pryor explained why the combine is important to the evaluation process.

“It gives you a chance to put a face with a name,” he said. “You get to know the kids a little bit from the interview process. You get 15-20 minutes to sit down and talk to them and ask them questions. You learn a little bit about their mental makeup and personality.

“You see their off-ice testing so you get to see their body type, and [Flyers trainer] Jim McCrossin will get the test results to look over. It just kind of fills in some blanks, and gives you a little better-rounded picture of the players you’re looking at.”

The interview process and how each potential draft pick presents himself could play a major role in where they are chosen on draft day.

“There are some character flaws you hear about in some of the kids that you probably know about going in, because the hockey community is a tightly knit group. There are some kids that have some off-ice issues or on-ice issues. You can address those, or talk to the kids about them. Maybe some of that stuff is just rumors. Sometimes rumors are dangerous because they can spread.
Some kids haven’t done a whole lot of off-ice programs for whatever reason, and other kids have. Some kids have a full beard, and other kids haven’t shaved yet. There are a lot of variables in there.” - Chris Pryor

“If there are some rumors out there, you can, hopefully, as a group, put that to rest.”

Seeing the kids put through rigorous training exercises, which do not include any on-ice activity, is also vital.

Now that they have returned with information they didn’t have a week ago, the Flyers' scouting staff will convene for several days beginning June 3 and put together their preliminary list for the draft itself.

Pryor is poised that the Flyers will be able to land a player that will be a major contributor to the team at some point in the future. Their track record in the past decade validates that confidence, as Philadelphia has chosen such players as Simon Gagne (22nd overall, 1998); Justin Williams (28th overall, 2000); Mike Richards (24th overall, 2003); Claude Giroux (22nd overall, 2006) and Luca Sbisa (19th overall, 2008) in a similar position to where they are this year.
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