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Combine comes to a close in Buffalo

Director of Central Scouting notes variety among first round prospects

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

The NHL's Director of Central Scouting, Dan Marr, wasted no time in grading this year's NHL Draft class.

"I'm a scout," he said. "They're all A's!"

With the 2017 NHL Combine wrapped up in Buffalo, and the Draft coming up in Chicago on June 23-24, Marr said he believes there is a lot of depth in the first round. But he believes Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier - the top two North American skaters - have separated themselves from the crowd.

"The players at the top end of this draft are going to be solid franchise players for their clubs once they get established," he said. "They're different players, but as far as the impact they're going to have with NHL teams, it's going to be very similar. It's a very fine line between the two."

Patrick is coming off an injury-plagued season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, while Hischier's Halifax Mooseheads lost in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs in six games.

In the regular season, Hischier notched 38 goals and 86 points compared to Patrick's 46 points in 33 games.

Go back to Brandon's WHL championship season in 2015-16 however, and the Wheat Kings' then alternate captain had 102 points, including 41 goals.

"We get the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them. Both are high character players, and coaches like that because those guys don't require any maintenance," said Marr. "They're both competitors. Their athletic skills and attributes are in a class of themselves. They're able to do it with a compete level that you get things done, and they're able to do it at the speed that you have to play with at a National Hockey League level."

Speaking of speed, Marr sees plenty of it in the defencemen waiting to be picked in the Draft. Cale Makar, whose Alberta Junior Hockey League team - the Brooks Bandits - lost in the 2017 Royal Bank Cup final to the host Cobourg Cougars.

Makar put up 24 goals and 51 assists for 75 points during the regular season; all of those numbers led AJHL defencemen.

Video: COMBINE | Dan Marr

"For Cale, if you're looking for a guy that could be another Erik Karlsson or Kris Letang, he could potentially develop into that type of player," said Marr. "But then you have other players like Callan Foote and Juuso Valimaki, they bring different dimensions to the game and different styles, even though their numbers are quite similar. It's just a different package that you get with each player.

"(There is) a lot of variety and a lot of versatility. It depends on what type of player you're looking for."

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