BUFFALO -- Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made certain he had a front row seat to the feature presentation Friday morning at HarborCenter, when Zurich center Auston Matthews and Tappara right wing Patrik Laine were side by side for the grueling VO2 max bike test.
It was the only test held Friday and the third test prospects had to endure this week at the NHL Scouting Combine. The remaining nine tests will be held Saturday at HarborCenter.
Matthews, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, and Laine, No. 2 on the list, completed the VO2 max. Laine appeared a bit more fatigued afterward.
"I don't know that you read too much into anything," Cheveldayoff told NHL.com. "I think that there's lots of players here like [London left wing] Matthew Tkachuk and [Karpat right wing] Jesse Puljujarvi, who aren't doing the tests, so there's a little bit of give and take. All these kids are going to do everything they possibly can to help us, as an industry, make our decisions.
"These are not easy tests, they're physically demanding, it's 8 o'clock in the morning and a lot of them look like they just rolled out of the wrapper, so you never want to read too much into anything."
Many expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to select Matthews with the first choice. The Jets hold the No. 2 pick in the draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center on June 24-25.
Cheveldayoff and his scouting staff this week interviewed Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi, No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters. They are the projected top three picks in the draft.
"We still have some interviews left to go with some players, but we've had some really good meetings and I think it's an exciting time for the kids," Cheveldayoff said. "It's certainly an important time for our organization to do its due diligence. During the interview process, you try and have a few laughs and make it a little serious."
The Jets have seven picks in the draft, including two in the first round. Winnipeg's prospect pool already is well stocked with forwards Kyle Connor (No. 17, 2015), Jack Roslovic (No. 25, 2015), Brendan Lemieux (No. 31, 2014) and Nic Petan (No. 43, 2013), and defenseman Josh Morrissey (No. 13, 2013) in the mix.
Cheveldayoff is excited what the future holds for the Jets and their fans.
"Since Day One, we said [building through the draft] was the way we were going to approach the team," he said. "Our very first draft pick, Mark Scheifele (No. 7, 2011), went through this process and to see where he came from to where he is now as a player is special.
"We have exciting young players in our organization and whoever we select [in 2016] is only going to help add to that. From an organization standpoint, a city standpoint, you're starting to see some of the things we have been building come to fruition, and that's been the thought process behind everything we've done."