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NHL Combine

NHL Scouting Combine, Day Six: History made by prospect from England

Kirk first player trained there to complete event; Humboldt honored

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Liam Kirk became the first player born and trained in England to complete the NHL Scouting Combine at HarborCenter on Saturday.

Kirk (6-foot-1, 156 pounds), a forward, is No. 65 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters available for the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23.

 

[RELATED: Complete 2018 NHL Draft coverage]

 

"It's pretty special being the first British-born and trained guy here and I'm hoping to be the first to be drafted too," Kirk said. "I'm sure a few guys will ask about my story and pick my brain a bit about what went on, but it's been good.

"I never really thought this would happen, to be honest, and I always believed I could play in the NHL. But as a kid from Britain, you don't expect this. It's been nice to be out here and show what I can do."

Kirk completed all tests, including the Wingate Cycle Ergometer peak power output test, which measures the explosiveness of a skater.

"I was stuck behind the curtain for about 30 minutes after that one," Kirk said. "It's pretty tough."

Kirk won a gold medal as the second-youngest player on the Great Britain men's national team at the IIHF World Championship Division 1, Group A tournament in Budapest, Hungary in April. The 3-2 shootout win against Hungary secured a promotion to the elite level of the World Championship for the first time since 1994.

Kirk had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) for the Sheffield Steelers this season, the most points by an Under-18 player in Elite Ice Hockey League history.

Here are a few other things we learned this week at the combine:

 

Honoring Humboldt

The NHL and NHL Central Scouting did its best to remember those affected by the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos on the afternoon of April 6 when 16 members died in a bus crash while traveling to a playoff game in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

All 104 prospects attending the combine received a pair of shorts and baseball cap with the Humboldt logo stitched on each item. 

"I met two players who survived the crash and are in rehabilitation (Jacob Wassermann and Xavier Labelle)," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "We talked as a group about the way this impacted the hockey world and how it hit home with every young player that would be here at the combine.

"We thought we'd just let the Broncos kind of participate with everybody by having the logo on the shorts and headwear and the Humboldt Strong ribbon attached to the first exercise station. The kids get it, it's meaningful."

 

First survivor 

Defenseman Martin Fehervary from Oskarshamn in Sweden's second division was the first player to finish the fitness testing circuit Saturday.

That meant he was the first player to go through the new version of the Wingate test. Rather than full-bore 30-second sprint, the format is 45 seconds, with 5-10 second intervals of sprinting followed by recovery.

"The breaks between the bikes was really tough," he said. "A little bit different. Last year, it goes all the way 30 seconds; now it's 10, five rest, then go again five, stuff like that. It was tough."

Fehervary, 18, had two assists in seven games for Slovakia at the 2018 IIHF World Championship as the second-youngest player in the tournament. He was eight days older than University of Michigan defenseman Quintin Hughes of the United States.

 

Vegas strong

The Vegas Golden Knights are not only well-represented in the Stanley Cup Final, but also at the combine this week to prepare for their second NHL Draft.

"The professional staff did a great job with the expansion draft and we're here with the amateur staff trying to make sure that we can continue the evolution of the organization," Golden Knights director of amateur scouting Scott Luce said. "We have a distraction that is the Stanley Cup Final. But when push comes to shove, we're here trying to get our guys in the right order, identify them as athletes and as people, and then go back to Vegas and put together our year-end list as we head into the draft."

The Golden Knights have seven picks in the draft, but no selections in the first and third round.

 

Reason to believe 

Oliver Wahlstrom (6-1, 205), No. 7 in NHL Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, believes he should be considered among the top forwards of the 2018 NHL Draft class.

Video: Wahlstrom works out at 2018 NHL Scouting Combine

Wahlstrom led the USNTDP with 94 points (48 goals, 46 assists) and 13 power-play goals in 62 games. He was asked if he feels he belongs in the same grouping with forwards Andrei Svechnikov (No. 1), Brady Tkachuk (No. 2), and Filip Zadina (No. 3).

"I feel I'm right up with those guys," Wahlstrom said. "You look at how I produced this year; I'm right up with them. They're awesome players and tremendous guys and I know a few of them, but I was born and raised to be the best. I'm excited for this draft to see where I end up."

 

Svechnikov excited to see Ovechkin

Andrei Svechnikov, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's rankings of North American skaters, will be one of seven prospects headed to Washington for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on Monday.

Video: Svechnikov answers questions at the NHL Combine

Svechnikov, from Kazan, Russia, will join Rasmus Dahlin of Frolunda (Sweden), Noah Dobson of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL), Evan Bouchard of London (OHL), Brady Tkachuk of Boston University in Hockey East, Filip Zadina of Halifax (QMJHL) and Quintin Hughes of the University of Michigan (Big 10). Svechnikov looks forward to witnessing Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin live.

"It'll be super interesting to watch him because all of Russia wants him to win the Stanley Cup," Svechnikov said. "All of us are going to have a great time and hopefully in a few years that will be all of us in the Stanley Cup Final."

 

Dahlin goes mild

Rasmus Dahlin hasn't been picked by the Buffalo Sabres yet but the Frolunda defenseman, expected to be selected by the Sabres with the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, has started to sample some of the local cuisines.

That meant a trip to the famed Anchor Bar for chicken wings. It was Dahlin's first time eating them, and there was a bit of a learning curve.

"I actually ate the chicken wings two days ago," he said. "It was good, but I probably took it a bit too spicy. Got to go with the mild next time."

Video: Rasmus Dahlin speaks to media at the NHL Combine

 

Fitness testing changes

Changes were made to the way the bench press and the Wingate test were administered at the combine this year.

Rather than measure the number of repetitions on the bench press, a device called "Gym Aware" was used to measure the velocity of the bar while the player pushed it up. The weight on the bar was 50 percent of the player's body weight.

"Repetition is huge, but this is measuring explosive power," said Jim McCrossin, Philadelphia Flyers director of sports medicine. "I think it's more applicable to our sport."

McCrossin also liked the change in the Wingate because it better replicates game action.

"It's almost like doing a shift," McCrossin said. "Stops and starts; that's what our sport is all about."

The changes were made by a committee of team strength and conditioning coaches that work with NHL Central Scouting to determine the testing protocols.

NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman and correspondent Joe Yerdon contributed to this report.

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