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NHL Scouting Combine: Day 1

by Kristi Hennessy / Winnipeg Jets


Combine provides NHL teams with well-rounded look

Mike Morreale - Staff Writer

Don't think Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov will ace every interview and endurance test at the NHL Scouting Combine just because he was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft.  READ MORE ›
105 of the top prospects of the 2012 NHL Draft class were invited to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto to put their bodies and minds to the tests. In three short days, each athlete will interview with as many as 30 NHL teams as well as take part in a number of vigorous fitness tests. is on location in Toronto at the International Centre to provide coverage of the physical testing on Friday June 1st, and Saturday June 2nd and talk to some of the top prospects before the NHL Draft on June 23-24th in Pittsburgh.

The first thing on the schedule for the athletes when they arrive in Toronto are the interviews. All 30 NHL teams are allowed to interview as many of the prospects as they'd like for up to 20 minutes. These interviews take place over two days.


After the prospects have completed all of the interviews that they were requested for, they move onto the fitness testing portion of the combine.

66 prospects are divided up into eight groups of eight or nine athletes on the first day. The second day the final group of 38 are divided into five groups. Each group begins the process with weighing in and having their exact height measured. They then make their way through the individual physical tests that include the following:

• Wingspan

•Body Fat (Skinfold Measurement)

•Grip Strength

•Push/Pull Strength



•Vertical Jump

•Standing Long Jump

•Bench Press

•Trunk Flexion

•Equilibrium Test

•Jump Training Mat

After the strength testing concludes, the prospects move onto the very challenging and dreadful bike testing. There are two vigorous bike tests to complete: the Wingate Ergometer Test, which is geared to see how much energy a player uses during a 30-second shift, and the VO2 Max Test, which measures a player’s endurance. Think of the anaerobic (Wingate) as a regular shift in a game but the VO2 Max is the entire game as a whole.


The fitness testing got underway at 7:30am Central time on Friday morning. 

8:30-10:30- Prospects among the first and second groups included Morgan Rielly, who is projected as the fifth-overall pick by Central Scouting, Colton Sissons (14th), Cody Ceci (6th), and Alex Galchenenyuk (4th).

The initial response from all of the prospects was relief that the fitness tests were finally over. The hard work was done and the fun will soon begin as the draft is just around the corner.

READ Q&A with: Morgan Rielly

10:30-12:30pm- Prospects in the third group included second-overall projected pick, Ryan Murray, Derrick Pouliot (12th), Jacob Trouba (9th), Henrik Samuelsson.

Murray on the combine:

"The VO2 was the toughest, it was like 12 minutes and having the tube in your mouth makes it hard to breathe. It's the first time I've ever done it."

"I talked to eight teams each day, pretty busy. I thought that they went well. It's good to go in there and talk to the teams and the scouts."

Edmonton Oil Kings winger Henrik Samuelsson, said he did not have much time to prepare for the combine as their season just ended one week ago after the Oil Kings fell at the Memorial Cup Championships. His thoughts on the late season.

"We led the league in points too so that was pretty cool," said Samuelsson. "Winning the WHL Championship was pretty surreal and then going to the Mem' Cup, we thought we had a good chance of winning but nothing clicked and we didn't play the way we new we could."

Samuelsson, son of two-time Penguins Stanley cup winner, Ulf Samuelsson, shared his throughts from the combine and how his father has impacted his young hockey career.

"He's been a big part of my life. He's taught me almost everything I know about hockey, him and my brother. It's been great having him as my dad."

VIDEO: Henrik Samuelsson

11:30-1:30- Prospects in the fourth group included Mathew Dumba, (ranked 11th by Central Scouting), Griffin Reinhart (ranked 10th overall), Brendan Gaunce in the 13th spot, and Swedish centreman projected to go third overall, Filip Forsberg.

Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels, is ranked in 11th overall. The 5'11.5 defenceman is coming off a strong offensive season with the Rebels tallying 57 points (20g, 37a) in 69 games. Dumba feels he will be able to stand out among the numerous other top-notch defencemen in the draft class.

"The thing that seperates me is my work ethic and my willingness to compete and win every battle. I hate to lose and I bring that every day and want to get better every day to get to that next level."

VIDEO: Mathew Dumba

1:30-3:30- Prospects in the fifth and sixth groups included the number one ranked prospect, Nail Yakupov, seventh projected prospect Radek Faksa, defenceman Matthew Finn in 16th, and Finnish London Knight Olli Maata.

: Nail Yakupov

3:30-6:30- Things began to wind down as the last couple of groups were up for their fitness testing. Among the final three groups was Tanner Pearson, a Barrie Colts member and close friend of Winnipeg Jet prospect Mark Scheifele.

Pearson is coming off of a very impressive offensive season totalling 91 points (37g, 54a) in 60 games. The left-winger from Kitchener, Ontario grew up with Scheifele and had nothing but the best of things to say about the seventh-overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft and the advice he offered up.

"I went through this all with Scheif' last year. Being the happy-go-lucky guy he is, he kind of said come here and have fun with it all. Don't be too nervous at the interviews, just go in and be yourself because that's what the teams want to hear."

The top ten results in each category from Friday's fitness testing will be posted soon.

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