The 2012 NHL Scouting Combine wrapped up last week in Toronto with 105 of the top prospects of the 2012 Draft class. Each player moved through a series of interviews with NHL teams followed by the rigorous physical testing. Winnipeg Jets Assistant Athletic Therapist and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Lee Stubbs was in Toronto taking detailed notes for Jets GM, Kevin Cheveldayoff and Assistant GM, Craig Heisinger.
“I was there to mainly look at their overall physique from a muscular standpoint,” said Stubbs. “We are able to see their bodies and know how much room they have to develop or if they are already at their maximum size.”
Out of the 100+ prospects, Stubbs is handed a “short list” of anywhere from 20-40 prospect s so that he can focus in on a few specifics.
“I try to take notes on as many prospects as I can even outside of the short list that I was given. There are a lot, but there are so many possibilities come draft day so, the more the better.
“After all of the prospects have finished the testing, I break down the results and see how each guy did overall and see what potential each might have.”
There are a few things that are taken into consideration when it comes time to rate each prospect. Some of the athlete’s seasons only finished a few days ago, if they were in the Memorial Cup Championships. How much time since their last game and when their last workout are all things that are recorded on the scouting reports so that all prospects are given a fair assessment.
“I don’t think the combine testing portion makes a huge difference on where the player will go in the draft but it does weigh into the overall process” said Stubbs. “It’s definitely a decent piece of the puzzle.”
With a long list of injured prospects, you can’t help but wonder if the prospect hardly played last season, how is he ranked both on the ice and off? Also, what the risks are to drafting injured players?
“It depends on the injury,” said Stubbs. “Like when it happened, where it is and the severity of the injury. The biggest question is, will it affect the player long term, and will it be easy to re-injure? It’s common to have injuries, you just have to look if it’ll be a long road to recovery or not.”
There are many prospects who surprised the scouts this season on the ice resulting in moving up the rankings but are there many surprises with the testing?
“There are always surprises at the combine. One guy could be an amazing hockey player but then take his shirt off and he has a lot of room to develop, which can take time. Then there are the guys who are on the low end of the leg testing which can mean they wont be very fast or strong skaters. Or, they aren’t good at the agility testing that can also mean they could be great stick-handlers but yet not the best skater.
“I can help develop a player to his highest potential physically, but can’t teach them to be good hockey players.”
Stubbs is actively involved with every prospect and regular Jets roster player throughout the off-season. He is responsible for making sure every guy is doing the proper amount of workouts and staying on track.
“Every guy gets a workout book from me. Every player is different as some need a little more guidance than others but generally I am in touch with every guy and their strength and conditioning coach every couple of weeks.”
With the draft just a couple weeks away and the prospect camp sneaking up in July, Stubbs will have his hands full with talking to all of the Jets players in the system. He will do his best to make sure each athlete is in tip-top shape when it comes time to try out for the 2012-2013 Winnipeg Jets roster.
FULL COMBINE RESULTS