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The Combine: What Goes On?

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Among the seven scouts in total for the Flyers at the NHL’s annual Combine for Entry Draft prospects are general manager Paul Holmgren and director of hockey operations Chris Pryor.

Pryor and his group of scouts are in day three at the Toronto facility to get a better look at all of the invitees from Central Scouting, which begs the question of what really goes on at the NHL’s Combine?

“You see the kids play all year on the ice and you just try to get information on their character, their personality and you’re putting a face with the name,” said Pryor. “You’re trying to fill-in some of the blanks, building a puzzle and finding a couple more pieces to make the puzzle complete. I think the interview and this whole process fills in a couple holes that you weren’t sure about.”

So with a one-time chance to meet with these prospects, how do you choose which players to talk to and what are the conversations usually about?

“You can kind of pick and choose off that group that [Central Scouting] invited up. We ballpark a group of kids that we feel that we’re in a conversation about acquiring at certain points in the draft,” said Pryor.

The Flyers will have to ballpark who is projected to go in the third round, which as of right now, is their first selection in this year’s draft.

The Flyers traded their first and third round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Kris Versteeg near the trade deadline, while their second round pick belongs to Phoenix as part of the Dan Carcillo deal in 2009.

The third round pick that they do have comes by way of the Pittsburgh Penguins in a deal at last year’s draft.

Unable to sign a soon-to-be free agent defenseman Dan Hamhuis, the Flyers traded his rights to the Penguins for their third round pick in this year’s draft.

Of course that’s not to say that any number of deals could be made by the Flyers to move up in the draft by acquiring another team’s pick. Only time will tell if that becomes the case, but for now the scouts are doing their due diligence and talking to all possible prospects.

“You only have a certain allotted time per player, so you have to get to the point,” said Pryor when asked what typically goes on in player interviews.

“It’s a generalization. You want to look them in the eye and see how they handle themselves which gives you a little bit of an idea of what they’re make up is and their personality. How they perceive themselves as players and make sure you’re on the same pages on how we perceive them as players, and what are they’re strengths and weaknesses. If any of the guys have any red-flags that come up during their season, you can ask those questions pertaining to that.”

As the Combine prepares to wrap up, the next step Flyers scouts and management will take is creating a master list with the entire scouting staff to make sure every person “at the table” knows the game plan.

“We’re going to have our final meetings next week. All of our full-time [scouts] come in. We’ll meet with everybody and we’ll put a final list together, go over that and make sure everybody’s on the same page going into the Draft. Then at the draft we’ll go over the list again, make sure nothing is out of whack. We will get things in order for when we go into Friday we have something to work off of that everyone is comfortable with.”

From there you know the story. Once all 30 positions are set (after the Stanley Cup Champion is determined). Teams will know their exact position and wait for their turn to be “on-the-clock”.

For now, it’s all about preparation.
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