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Prospects begin Combine in Buffalo

by Mike G. Morreale / Toronto Maple Leafs



BUFFALO -- There are 114 players here for the 2016 NHL Draft Combine this week at First Niagara Center and HarborCenter.

The combine will give all 30 NHL teams a complete physical and medical assessment of the prospects before the 2016 NHL Draft, which will take place June 24 and 25 at First Niagara Center.

The teams will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the invited prospects Monday through Friday at First Niagara Center. The medical examinations of each player will take place Thursday, and nine of the 12 fitness tests will take place Saturday at HarborCenter. No player can test until clearing the medical screening.

Here are the four intriguing takes from Monday at the combine:

1. First-round feedback: Auston Matthews, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters eligible for the 2016 draft, will have seven team interviews this week prior to testing Saturday.

"I think you want to have good meetings with teams; whatever team you meet you want to show them that you're not only a good hockey player but a good person and respectful," Matthews said. "With the testing, you want to do as good as you can and show your athleticism because that's all important stuff. It kind of translates to how you are on the ice."

2. Scouts honor: St. Louis Blues director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong said the reason they selected Robby Fabbri at No. 21 in the 2014 draft was because their entire scouting staff had him rated the best player at that point; it had nothing to do with team needs.

"We took a hockey player," Armstrong told NHL.com. "You have to hunt like heck to get two more players [similar to Fabbri] in the draft, and that's hard. If you draft three players that eventually play over 100 NHL games you did your job. If you get a superstar every three years, you have a chance to win a Stanley Cup. The superstars are the difference-makers in the draft.

"Whether it's a [Vladimir] Tarasenko, Fabbri or Alex Pietranglo. Those guys can really alter your team makeup quickly."

3. Top underrated prospect: Chicoutimi defenseman Frederic Allard, No. 32 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, set career-highs across the board this season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 14 goals, 45 assists and 59 points in 64 games. Allard is a solid right-shot puck mover.

"He can quarterback a power play and plays a ton of minutes," NHL Central Scouting's Troy Dumville said. "He's an effective player in his own end as well."

4. Quirky question of the day: Center German Rubtsov, No. 5 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, provided an interesting inquiry that was asked of him during one of his six team interviews Monday.

"They asked me how many times I shave," Rubtsov said. "I don't even remember how many times, but I told them two times a week."

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